Coun. Ben Isitt (File contributed/ City of Victoria)

Petition calls for suspension of Victoria councillor Ben Isitt

Isitt says petition ‘does not provide a reliable barometer of public opinion’

Nearly 2,000 people have signed a petition calling for Coun. Ben Isitt’s suspension, following comments connected to recent protests.

Isitt attended a demonstration put on by the supporters of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs as a citizen on Feb. 11. Following the demonstration, where allegations of assault were reported to Victoria police, Isitt chastised the police and the media.

“This allegation is hogwash designed to discredit Indigenous youth and their supporters,” Isitt posted in a tweet. “VicPD’s mandate is to ensure public safety, not spread fake news.”

In a blog post, Isitt later claimed that “the corporate media is frantically spinning the non-violent blockade of the legislature as some kind of ‘violent protest.’”

ALSO READ: Victoria councillor calls VicPD allegations of assault at downtown protest ‘fake news’

The comments drew public pushback, as well as comments from B.C. Premier John Horgan who said that his “thoughts on that individual are not printable… I do not view the city council in Victoria as a mirror image of Mr. Isitt. He will carry on living his life the way he does and will have to reckon with that as time goes by.”

A Change.org petition claims that Isitt’s actions lay in “contrary to the community charter” of B.C., saying that a mayor should “provide leadership to council including by recommending bylaws, resolutions and other measures that may assist in the peace, order and good governance of the municipality,” and that Isitt’s actions are affecting the mayor’s role.

Petition founder David S. Piercy said he “would like to ask for a suspension and investigation in to the actions of Ben Isitt and the effects his actions have on the City of Victoria, businesses, jobs and safety of the residents of Victoria and first responders.”

ALSO READ: Victoria Coun. Ben Isitt calls for limitation of council duties in response to survey results

The petition wrongly says Isitt attended an “unlawful assembly” at the B.C. Legislature; Canadian residents have a right to protest peacefully.

Additionally, municipal councillors are allowed to participate in protests at their own choosing, as well as present their own views, said Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps to Black Press Media following Isitt’s comments.

She more recently noted the councillors cannot be suspended, even with a petition.

When asked what her thoughts were on the public animosity against Isitt, she declined to comment, saying it was inappropriate for her to do so.

Isitt is aware of the petition, but feels it is unfounded.

“While I welcome input from the public, this particular petition does not provide a reliable barometer of public opinion. Many of the signatories live outside the province and country,” he said in an emailed statement. “There is also no legal basis from removing me from public office, since I am in compliance with all provincial legislation relating to the conduct of municipal councillors. The petition appears to be motivated by opposition to my political ideas, rather than actual infractions of provincial law. I intend to do the job that 14,205 people elected me to do a little over a year ago.”

Despite consistent public pushback against Isitt’s opinion, he received the most votes of anyone on council in the 2018 election, including more than those put forward for the mayor.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

Like us on Facebook, send a Tweet to @NicoleCrescenzi
and follow us on Instagram

City of Victoria

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Saanich mayor receives his foster bees through pollinator rental program

‘I feel like I’m an adoptive father,’ Fred Haynes says of his rented mason bee colony

Members of immunocompromised community seek more options to get groceries as online services are backlogged

One woman has decided to build a greenhouse to ensure she is able to access food throughout pandemic

Revamped Oak Bay Volunteer Services in need of donations, volunteers

Non-profit stares down challenge of helping seniors amid COVID-19 crisis

Sidney event marking end of the Second World War cancelled because of COVID-19

Town Crier Kenny Podmore plans to mark the occasion with a Proclamation of Peace

UVic Vikes new basketball coach on the fast track

At 26, Shalie Dheensaw assumed head coaching role

VIDEO: How doctors in Canada will decide who lives and dies if pandemic worsens

Officials in several provinces have been developing guides so that doctors don’t feel alone

Nanaimo’s Harmac mill works to fill doubled pulp order for medical masks and gowns

Mill’s president says extra cleaning in place and workers are social distancing

Two people fined after B.C. police spot online ads re-selling 5,000 surgical, N95 masks

Police confiscated the masks, being sold at inflated prices, and now working with Fraser Health

Unclear if Cowichan couple refusing to self-isolate will face penalty

No fines or charges have been laid to date, including Cowichan couple who won’t self isolate

POLL: Will you be able to make your rent or mortgage payment this month?

With the COVID-19 delivering a devastating blow to the global economy, and… Continue reading

COVID-19: Postponed surgeries will be done, B.C. health minister says

Contract with private surgical clinic to help clear backlog

Black Press Media ad sparks discussion about value of community newspapers

White Rock resident hopes front-page note shines light on revenue loss during COVID-19 crisis

Nanaimo man arrested after allegedly setting house fire

Firefighters arrived to find mobile home ablaze on Barnes Road in Cedar on Thursday

Businesses advised to prepare for federal, B.C. COVID-19 assistance

Canada Revenue Agency portal expected to open next week

Most Read