Councillor’s censure was not over a 'minor error': Port Coquitlam council

Statement challenges Laura Dupont's claims that she is being silenced, and further notes a disclosure of confidential information on three occasions

Port Coquitlam council is taking issue with comments made by Coun. Laura Dupont about her censure and removal from some committees.

In her response to council’s disciplinary measures, Dupont told The Tri-City News that she had apologized for her “mistake” and the censure and sanctions were heavy handed.

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But In a statement on the city’s website, her five council colleagues and Mayor Brad West disagree with Dupont’s characterization of the actions that prompted the censure motion.

According to the councillors, the censure was based on independent third-party findings that Dupont had disclosed confidential information on three occasions in breach of section 117 of the Community Charter.

“Council has taken the matter very seriously and would not have taken such actions over a minor error. The actions are directly related to Councillor’s Dupont’s conduct and breaches of confidentiality and not related to any Council policy discussions or positions.”

The nature of the breaches have not been revealed, with the city citing confidentiality, however Dupont said in her comment to The Tri-City News that “if the community knew the details of this, they would be surprised.”

Brad West told The Tri-City News Thursday he could not comment on the matter though the statement says the breach was from a closed meeting where only labour, land or legal matters can be discussed, and a disclosure of confidential materials could have financial consequences for the city.

However, according to Dupont, the censure was a way of silencing her outspoken efforts on environmental protection and climate change and she confirmed she was no longer a member of Metro Vancouver’s Climate Change Action Committee, although her name was still listed on the committee website today. 

As well, she said she had been removed from the acting-mayor rotation and her appointment to the Tri-Cities Healthy Community Partnership was revoked.

A petition has already been started to get her reinstated to the Metro Vancouver’s Climate Change Action Committee

However, the statement by the councillors — Steve Darling, Nancy McCurrach, Darrell Penner, Glenn Pollock and Dean Washington and Mayor West — states that Dupont retains all her duties and powers as a councillor, including the ability to vote on city matters.

The councillors’ statement also takes issue with Dupont’s claim that she is being intimidated, noting that while debate is passionate, everyone is respectful and there is no tolerance of intimidation and harassment.

In what is a rare occurrence in civic government, the censure includes a number of sanctions: in addition to removal from outside committees and the acting mayor’s rotation, Dupont loses access to confidential materials.

The statement from council indicates Dupont was given an opportunity to have legal representation when the censure was being discussed but that the motion was approved after she or her lawyer made their submissions.

Some New Westminster councillors, meanwhile, are coming to Dupont’s defence.

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