When I stood at the mic during the public input portion of the Oct. 8 Port Moody council meeting and called for anyone in the audience who agreed with my three points — that I supported Coun. Diana Dilworth's motions regarding Mayor Rob Vagramov, that I felt the motion should be moved to the front of the agenda and that Mayor Vagramov should recuse himself from both the discussion and the vote due to extreme personal conflict of interest — to stand up, I was unsure of what the response would be.
There were more than 200 people in council chambers that night and at least 85% of them stood up.
Although Coun. Meghan Lahti was clearly the most visibly emotional person there, she was not the only one. I saw tears creep into the face of all four female councillors, not to mention very many people, male and female, in the audience.
But, then, councillors Hunter Madsen and Steve Milani mansplaining sexual assault was one of the most disgusting exhibits I've witnessed in a very long time. Coun. Madsen referred to the events related to Mayor Vagramov's sexual assault charge as a "misstep."
It was incredibly telling that the three men on the stage voted against the motions. This action, I sincerely hope, will be well remembered by every female in Port Moody and every male who understands and acknowledges the insight into character this provides.
The mayor said he'll take the matter under advisement and then proceeded to do exactly what he wants. And then told a reporter after the meeting that this is political.
For Mayor Vagramov not to recuse himself from this vote was astounding and clearly political.
And the only reason this is a political issue is because the province has not acted on the Union of BC Municipality's motions of last year and set mechanisms in place that remove it from the political arena.
The Oct. 8 meeting fiasco is a crystal clear example of why that needs to happen and I hope people reach out to the minister responsible, Selina Robinson, and request this be attended to at the first available opportunity. I believe a provincial review of municipal conflict of interest guidelines as they pertain to elected officials is also urgently called for.
I have been overwhelmingly sad since the meeting. Some of the comments overheard in the chamber last Tuesday night were appalling.
But I received a message from a Port Moody woman this afternoon that helped. She said was watching the council proceedings from home, all alone, and when I called for people to stand, she stood, though nobody could see her. Her words moved me.
I don’t know where we will go from here as a city but I do not believe for a moment that the citizens of Port Moody are done with this.
Laura Dick, Port Moody