The grave pronouncements from both Colin Basran and Stephen Fuhr lauding citizen participation and lamenting the abuse of online open dialogue are exasperating (Courier, May 16).
Both these politicians blocked me from their official Facebook pages within days of their election to office — I hadn’t even commented on their pages when I was shut out from this avenue of democratic engagement.
Both these politicians have refused numerous entreaties to unblock me. I asked them why I had been blocked, and pointed out that as a matter of principle, political speech is free speech both in Canada and in the U.S.
I told them the U.S. Supreme Court had decided Donald Trump couldn’t block Twitter users simply because they criticized him, and added that the B.C. Civil Liberties Union was examining the problem of politicians blocking the public from their official social media accounts.
To this day they’ve ignored me. I remain blocked.
It gets worse. As a founding member of Renters United, a recognized stakeholder in the issue of short-term rentals regulation, I gave city hall advance notice that I would need 15 minutes to deliver comments at the public hearing on this matter.
City Bylaw 9200 allows that citizens can speak for longer than the standard five-minute block so long as the speaker is adding new information for public consideration.
The hearing agenda stated the same: “Speakers are encouraged to limit their remarks to five minutes, however, if they have additional information they may address council again after all other members of the public have been heard a first time.”
The moment the hearing opened, Mayor Basran defied the bylaw, the posted hearing procedures, and his statutory duty of procedural fairness, announcing that members of the public would be limited to five minutes’ speaking time. I would not have been able to lay out all our points in five minutes, let alone make conclusions. The mayor effectively prevented Renters United from participating in the hearing.
Away with his crocodile tears! The mayor has repeatedly shown that he’s no less abusive of democratic process than the idiot who posted the threat in the light of day, not even bothering with anonymity.
Let’s wait to see if the courts eventually find the threat to be less than credible. To me, it looks like more rough play in the tumultuous political sandbox.