Maple Ridge city Councillor Kiersten Duncan was ejected from an online meeting on Tuesday night, after an exchange with Mayor Mike Morden.
Following some verbal sparring during the Zoom meeting, Morden ruled Duncan out of order, and her mic was cut.
At that point, she held up a sign that said “Let Me Speak #Censured.”
The mayor took exception, and after Duncan refused to apologize, she was ejected from the meeting.
Commenting about the meeting on Wednesday morning, Coun. Ahmed Yousef said “it’s an uncomfortable work environment.”
“I hope egos can be set aside and to focus on serving Maple Ridge to the best of our abilities,” said Yousef. “I’m hopeful that the passion and drive for our communities unites us in striving for the good of all.”
The issue before council was a new retail store by Burb Cannabis, to be located at 110-20110 Lougheed Hwy.
Coun. Chelsa Meadus supported the application, saying the city’s policy of a required 1,000 m setback from existing stores is “a little bit much.”
“We seem to be one of the only municipalities that has this type of spacing,” she said.
Duncan spoke in favour of keeping the 1000m setbacks, and opposed the new store being in that location.
She went on to say the store’s apparel could be attractive to youth, and cause them to start using cannabis products.
Meadus called a point of order, saying the apparel issue was not relevant. Staff accepted her point, but Duncan persisted.
“There’s a woman that’s almost topless on the t-shirt, and I think it’s inappropriate,” said Duncan.
Morden told Duncan she had been ruled out of order, and to “cease and desist.”
Coun. Judy Dueck said Duncan had earlier stated council should not deny people access to pharmacies for methadone, but took a position that could deny people access to cannabis, which is used by many for medical reasons. Dueck called the number of seniors going into existing cannabis stores “an eye opener.”
“It’s okay that we go and get methadone, but it’s not okay that we get cannabis,” said Dueck.
Duncan wanted a second chance to speak. Morden warned her to stick to the issue of the cannabis store application.
Duncan replied she would like to respond to Dueck’s comment about methadone clinics.
“I’m going to deny that,” said Morden.
“Why can my colleague speak to it, and I can’t?” asked Duncan.
“I’m going to rule you out of order,” said the mayor. Video of the meeting shows Duncan speaking, but her mic has been cut.
Soon she held up the sign.
Morden called a point of order.
“I’m going to open up the mic for you to apologize. That is an inappropriate statement for you to make and an inappropriate way,” Morden told Duncan.
“I feel I’m being censured because I’m not allowed to speak to an item my colleague brought up about my comment, and they are, and that’s not fair. I should have the same rights,” countered Duncan.
Morden asked staff for advice on the issue, and they said Duncan had been ruled out of order because her comments did not relate to the item on the table.
Duncan again asked why she was not allowed to respond to another councillor’s point. The mayor responded it was not a matter for debate.
“I would also ask you to apologize for the sign that you put up, which is contrary to the rules of procedure,” persisted Morden.
“No, I’m being censured,” she responded.
“Councillor Duncan, you have one more opportunity to apologize.”
“I’m being censured, and the public deserves to know.”
“The councillor will be deemed ejected from the meeting,” stated Morden. “Please eject councillor Duncan. That’s the ruling of the chair.”
After the meeting, he said the mayor’s job is to chair a respectful and productive meeting, and deter personal attacks and derogatory comments that undermine the process.
“It’s about respectful engagement, and speaking to the issues,” he said.
He was “procedurally comfortable” with what transpired, adding “But I didn’t enjoy it.”
Morden said a mayor is given the authority to eject a councillor.
“I’ve been at that edge, but always try to cut some slack, and try to rein it in.”
There will be no repercussions from Duncan being ejected, he said.
“The clock is re-set every time.”
Burb Cannabis was advised to proceed with an application for the proposed Lougheed Highway location.
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