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Victoria city council will continue to fund Remembrance Day events, councillors apologize to veterans

Last Updated Jun 14, 2019 at 12:11 am PDT

Summary

The suggestion to ask the military to pay for Remembrance Day events was made at council last week

The motion sparked an uproar, as the suggestion was made on the 75th anniversary of D Day

Council did not support the motion, with many offering their apologies to veterans for the original motion

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — Victoria city council will not be approaching the federal government for help with covering costs associated with future Remembrance Day ceremonies.

When the suggestion was made at council last week, it was instantly met with an uproar.

The original motion was meant to explore the idea of the Department of Defence/Veterans Affairs funding military events in the city. But the motion was presented on the 75th anniversary of D-Day, which many found insensitive.

Thursday evening when the motion was brought up again to the council, not a single councillor moved it.

Mayor Lisa Helps explained the lack of support meant the motion was dead in the water.

“I think it really has been a reputational risk to the city to have motions like this coming to our council table. When we send any kind of signal that feels like disrespect to the military, I think that’s not a good signal to send,” she says.

“I want to signal from the capital city of BC that there is a good deal of support and respect for the work that veterans are doing. If anything came out of this council over the past week that signalled anything other than that, I am sorry on behalf of this council.”

Councillor Laurel Collins says she regrets supporting the original motion.

“I want to say sorry. I wish that motion had never come forward. I want to make it clear that Remembrance Day was never under threat of being defunded. We approved the funds of the policing costs of all these events. Only after allocating the funding did we look at the potential of exploring cost sharing,” she says.

“I spoke to a number of veterans here in Victoria and across Canada. I heard today that London Drugs offered to pay for Remembrance Day. I want to say to them, thank you, but we’ve got this.”

For his part, Ben Isitt, the councillor behind the original idea, apologized for the timing of the discussion but said the toxic political culture is being promoted by corporate media organizations.

“The logical outcome of the smear campaign against this city council will be the rubber-stamping of every request for funds or every other decision out of fear of causing offence,” he says.

He admits it would have been better to raise the issue on another day and that if anyone was offended by the timing of the motion, he apologizes.