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Editorial: Freedom of speech in Sooke must be constructive — 114 Comments

  1. Why have we let this outrageous behaviour happen?
    We have become a third world town! Shame on them!

  2. Council doesn’t get to define “reasonable limits,” a court of law does. and I say let them try. I say we start a legal fund and take this to the next level. A class action suit of our own. I say SPN continues its vital role as observer, reporter, information disseminator, and that we the people stand behind her, make her stronger, use that information appropriately to shape the community/society that we want to live and work in, and raise our children in. Shame on Mayor Tait, who just herself finished defending a violation of her own civil/human rights by this Council. Her husband’s behavior, in her defense during and after a council meeting at the end of her parental leave, calling for council to respect and abide their legal and ethical responsibilities, could be interpreted as harassment and bullying, yet she came to his defense. WTF?! it’s all ass backwards. and utterly baffling. if we band together and buy shares in SPN, then we the people become the legal owners of the SPN and it is then the legal voice of a collective, not the fledgling business and crucial livelihood of one private citizen who can be more easily threatened by bankruptcy. YES to a sit-in of sorts at the upcoming council meeting! YES to Gail for Mayor! YES to Britt continuing to be the critical thinking opposition watchdog. YES to splashing across the wider media highlighting this special brand of Sooke politics and governance what we are so sadly renowned for. it would make for a very interesting juxtaposition story to the wider media attention given to Mayor Tait’s parental leave battle. I voted for Mayor Tait, and never ever ever expected that she or Ebony Logins would condone this, nevermind sign their names to it. Absolutely unforgiveable. and not be forgotten.

    Truth is first ridiculed, then violently opposed, and finally accepted as self evident. oh for that day that our council gets to level three. holding out no hopes for this current administration…but that which doesn’t kill us (or shut us up and hold us down) will only make us stronger for a better future. for now, let us iron out these wrinkles (some super huge and stubborn) and learn as we go.

  3. Oh dear! I just don’t get this.
    Nobody was being ‘bullied’ or ‘harassed’ from what I can tell. Maybe council were coming under pressure by having their actions, or the actions of specific councillors questioned.
    There again, council are putting little information out about whom they think might be bullying or harassing whom, so it’s hard to tell.
    Local press reporting the truth factually (E&OE – nobody get it right 100% of the time) or local citizens questioning council decisions, no matter how many times that might happen, fits neither bullying nor harassment. In a just and free society it is part of the political process is it not?

    How dare anyone question us?
    It really seems that council do not want feedback or debate and, worse still, are prepared to resort to legal pressure on anyone that dares question councils actions. Bearing in mind of course that is local tax payers money that council is burning up to hire lawyers to try and stymie local press/people.

    Sooke District Council – Listen up! This is not the way to foster a decent working relationship with your citizens. Legal threats are a very poor approach indeed and surely a vote loser! You are digging nothing other than a deeper hole for yourselves.

    By all means.. send me a letter whilst you are at it… and burn more valuable Sooke tax payers money!

    • Wow this is all just surreal
      Mainstream media must be contacted. Tv and newspaper. This can not be accepted nor tolerated. If we remain quiet and idle, we are accepting and tolerating…

  4. This is getting a lot of shares which is a good thing. The more number of shares and circulation this article gets the more they will have to face their actions and lack there of without costing SPN their job or facing law suits.

  5. Is this what we all just gave the group in city hall our large amounts of property tax money for????

  6. If a stupid question can be tolerated; who exactly, is the bully in this situation?

  7. Despotism is not democracy. Questioning by the public should be welcomed. Of course SPN would win a case, but council is betting you don’t want all the hassle, and of course you don’t. This kind of frightened reaction on their part only fuels battles and misunderstanding, rather than open dialogue that should be encouraged.

  8. we seem to be living in a time when people are finally waking up and more fully understanding how limited most democratic governance either is or has become.
    The results are, among other things, Brexit, Tony Blair facing impeachment, and that the candidacies of Trump and Hillary Clinton have come this far.
    It resulted in people choosing the Liberals over the NDP and certainly the Greens in a lesser of 2 evils or believing Lib advertising decision.
    This crisis in democracy and the effects of selfishness, greed, and supposed superiority over others is becoming apparent not only on federal and provincial levels, but locally as well.
    Our veterans need support, so do First Nations, drug addicts, the homeless, low income people, the disabled, public schools, safe water, forest protection, the suicidal, and so on.
    Sooke and surrounding areas are a microcosm with people of low-high income.
    Even on our street the difference is apparent with wealthier people with properties on the water, and those who live across the street.
    The support of Bernie Sanders in the US, and Jeremy Corbyn in the UK are indications of what it takes to defend human rights, health care, pensions, the environment, and freedom. I think it’s terrible that SPN’s ability to provide news and information to its readers has been stifled, and City hall should be embarrassed by their actions.

    • Sooke is anti police, anti media, anti democracy.
      ie. Local detachment is stretched to the max (I know first hand) and council refuses to raise budget as crime increases (gangs and drugs are digging in deeper) akin to Langford. Council snubs requests for budget review but Mayor takes fluffy media op post shooting.
      They want to run their own show here. Out of touch, entitled, arrogant and self righteous. This can not be tolerated.

      • Ok. thanks for sharing more insight.
        makes sense because Colwood is not supportive of boosting policing in a region that desperately needs it. yet another sad example of Sooke.

  9. To Sooke Pocket News,
    The day that the Mayor and Councillors chose to run…they also chose to have their actions questioned. Your life, my dear councillors and mayor, has just become an open book if you want to be in politics. The town of Sooke, DOES, want to know what you are doing with OUR tax dollars, and what exactly you are all up to, because as you know, politicians are rarely ever trusted (and for a million reasons why).
    So PLEASE, SPN, do NOT let yourself be
    “bullied” into not doing your job…because “SOOKE WANTS TO KNOW” exactly what is going on at ALL TIMES..!!

  10. please

    all of you leaving comments

    Please call them, leave letters, fill them with your dismay. Actions speak louder than words

    just do it

  11. At the moment this seems very unjust but council does not deserve to be bullied at their place of work. In order to make an informed and conscious decision about who is doing the bullying, why doesn’t council be fully transparent about what they believe constitutes bullying and harassment? If it was published or occurred at a council meeting, then there is written record of it. COUNCIL: QUOTE THIS AND PUBLISH IT for the voters to see that you are not being ridiculous. At the moment, council looks like the bullies…

  12. I see that this letter was drafted and signed by Maja Tait and Teresa Sullivan. Not sure who did the drafting. I wonder what the other Council members think of this plan of action? I can’t believe they all think this is OK. I would like to see what the vote spread was like.
    As the letter states, someone thought something that Gail and or Britt said was incorrect, why can’t the complainant request a conversation to clarify? Why did we go from a discussion in council to a law suit? The correct process is for the public to ask questions or give information that Council should have.. and Council asking for the information to do their jobs properly. I know Council has made mistakes in the past and we didn’t sue them for it.

  13. Unbelievable…and very disturbing!

    It’s just one thing after the other with this Council, more specifically with a couple of the individuals on Council. If their goal is to rile up an already exasperated citizenry then by all means take away their rights and freedom of expression…which is what this smacks of. We pay those people’s salaries through our constantly increasing taxes. They work for us. We do not work for them.

    The District’s Anti Bullying and Harassment policy has been thrown in the face of those who dare question the actions/ decisions of the Council/ the District staff. That confuses me. My understanding is that this policy applies In- House specifically to those who work or volunteer with the District of Sooke and their interactions with each other, not to the tax paying citizens of Sooke. The purpose of that document is to make sure those who work at the District…whether on Council or as staff or as a volunteer…play nice with each other. It has no bearing on the public’s behaviour towards those who work,or volunteer for the District. Where on earth did they get the idea that it does?

    Unbelievable that they would try to muzzle Britt. Have they never heard of Freedom of the Press? Or is that freedom available only to those who agree with them and toe the line? We live in a free, democratic society….a fact which will be reinforced during the way too far away election in 2018.

    And Gail Hall! Gail is not on Council nor an employee, hence the Anti Harrassment Policy does not apply to her either. Perhaps the District should consider hiring her though for her expertise on matters before Council. She has shown on numerous occasions that she is a whole lot more knowledgeable than those who are being paid to do the job.

    I would like to see Britt continue to report the facts and those of us who support her will continue to ask the questions. You cannot muzzle everybody.

  14. Absolutely ridiculous. The antibullying clause they refer to is applicable in the workplace, not for the public or the media. Makes me wonder exactly what they are trying to hide.

  15. Britt, which of your invariably well written, researched and footnoted stories triggered the complaints from a councillor and a staff member? Perhaps this one — http://sooke.pocketnews.ca/sooke-staff-is-slim-and-trim. Or other(s)? Please share the link(s) if you can.

    As for the “private and confidential” letter to our town’s most dedicated council watchdog, I agree with Peter GM and others that it would be wise for CAO Sullivan and Mayor Tait to quote the exact passages in Ms. Hall’s letters and public comments that they believe qualify as “defamation, harassment and bullying.”

    PS For perspective’s sake, check out this Guardian article about the incredible volume of truly vile abuse that major politicians must contend with nowadays. By contrast, Sooke is Pleasantville and the occasional withering remark, cogent observation and forthright criticism from engaged citizens doesn’t make it any less so. And hooray for that. http://www.theguardian.com/technology/datablog/ng-interactive/2016/jun/27/from-julia-gillard-to-hillary-clinton-online-abuse-of-politicians-around-the-world.

  16. People can make their statement about the Mayor and Councillors at the polls.

  17. Can someone please initiate a vote of non-confidence? This ongoing nonsense must stop!

    • You gotta love how everything is a paradox, they’re using anti-bullying laws (which I thought were for kids at school, but I guess it’s dual-purpose? sneaky af) to bully a small news website. it’s absolutely shameful.

  18. We actually have to do something about this.. Anyone have any ideas as to what we can do. WE AS A Community need to stand up and say this is wrong. They hired people outside our community, there are not listening to the public by adding tons of red tape to get through before you can speak, then they think that they don’t have to be held accountable for our money…public funds. Can we call for an election or ask them to step down? Someone with some know how please guide us. Thanks

  19. As a young male construction worker/gardener who currently lives in Sooke and is thinking of getting his own place soon, it’s news like this that makes me consider something like… I dunno, Sannich? Langford? anything but Sooke, I mean what does this town have for people under 30?

    • nope. you get what you pay for.
      growing congestion and an insecure bullying council lay the foundation and feel of a town. doesn’t look promising.

  20. I don’t know, they hire people outside of Sooke and even from out of province if I remember correctly, they add tons of red tape so the public can’t speak or question counsel, They fire people and pay severance and they don’t advise the public as to how much is paid out instead when asked they start pulling the bullying card. I would like to also see what counsel thinks is untrue and bullying. I also think that Sooke might want to rethink the counsel all together. Did we make the right Choice? I don’t think so they are hiding to much from us, the don’t ask us, they won’t tell us where our money is going and then they ask us not to talk about it. I have lost Confidence. Maybe a non-confidence vote is in order.

  21. I thought that this was supposed to be the ” Transition Party ” — Transition to what — a Dictatorship — my goodness, I have lived here for almost 20 years — to see this happening in our Community is not what we want at all — I thought we had rid ourselves of the Harper Government & their Conservative ideology — I for one can not wait until the next Election to rid ourselves of the current council and appointees — it will be time to take back our town.

  22. Political figures at all levels are subject to public scrutiny. They took a vow, as per Part 5, sections 115 and 116 of the Community Charter to ” (a) to consider the well-being and interests of the municipality and its community.” To censor public opinion and investigative journalism by way of threats from lawyers (whom the bill is paid for by the hardworking taxpayer)or through so-called anti-bullying/harassment policy is an egregious act of bullying, intimidation and the muzzling of freedom of speech/expression at its finest. I think these four year term elects forget that it is the citizens who pay their wages – in return for fair, transparent and good governance. I would recommend putting a complaint in to the Ombudsperson https://www.bcombudsperson.ca/complaints/what-we-investigate as these tactics by the Mayor et al are unconstitutional.

  23. Who is the real bully here?? If the voting public of Sooke only knew the truth about what goes on behind closed doors in this council and who the real bullies are. You have to ask yourself why those who are employed by this town are dissatisfied with their employer and why so many have moved on.

  24. I was actually attending at this particular council meeting, in support for Britt. When I heard Gail speaking, I realized this town is in need of a good ” clean up”, politically. The question is, is there better replacement available…who in this town would you vote for? Just saying

  25. Instead of all the whining here, the obvious answer is that someone in a less vulnerable position needs to learn the details of the situation, attend council meetings, verify the facts of the matter, and if they hold up, they should publicize the actual details of whatever this is about and test if the council’s threats are real.

    The publicity will be bad for the council regardless. The more they fight it, the more the story will spread, the worse the publicity will become for them, and they’ll have to spend increasing amounts of public money to fight it. Especially if they really are trying to cover something up.

    Or, they’ll have to admit whatever the problem is and deal with it.

    … And all the above will hurt their chances of getting re-elected.

    So who has the resources and security to do the right thing for the city?

  26. Let’s all wear our pink anti-bullying shirts at the next council meeting.

  27. Members of the public who raise questions will be “dealt with” ?? Wow. Censorship at its worst. I think I’ll phone the district and the mayor and let them know “Members of the public” are the ones who call the shots and We allow them to have their jobs.

  28. Pretty sad society that we have created for ourselves, where asking questions and demanding accountability and answers from it’s elected public council members is now met by being shouted down as either a ‘bully’ or a ‘racist’. Pretty damn sad.

  29. for anyone and everyone who is interested in debates about Sooke Council, civilised debates I hope, please join on facebook, Sooke Council Watchdogs – the more people involved the better it will be

  30. Quite the firestorm Britt, for a one-woman show you sure make a big impact. And through it all I can’t help but think that lil ole Sooke Pocket News probably has a few more eyeballs on it than it did before the Maja / Britt media tour. Here’s to you and your increased readership 😀 You go girl!!