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Bylaw in Maple Ridge regulating council behaviour faces backlash

Last Updated Feb 6, 2020 at 6:11 am PDT

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A bylaw in Maple Ridge would bar those attending council from questioning the motives of city councillors

The changes forbid people from questioning the motives of government and city officials

The eyebrow-raising rule is part of several initiatives aimed at improving audience behaviour

MAPLE RIDGE (NEWS 1130) –¬†A bylaw that was given final reading in Maple Ridge last month is causing uproar online.

The change regulates audience behaviour at council meetings, and is one of several changes to rules around etiquette at the meetings, including banning offensive signs, gesture, conduct, and language.

It’s a move that addresses “bullying or harassing behaviour” in respect of a Council Member, Government Official or City employee.

That includes expressing a negative opinion about the personality or character of a Council member, speaking “disrespectfully”, speaking or acting in a way that is deemed aggressive, and using offensive gestures or signs.

It also means people are not allowed to question the motives of council members, government officials or city employees.

But the changes are not being embraced by all, some online are calling the suggestion undemocratic and authoritarian.

Councillor Kiersten Duncan has also raised concerns, saying “This means that residents and even myself as a city councillor am not allowed to say if I think one of my colleagues is in a conflict of interest.”

“I think it is very important that in a democracy citizens should have the freedom to express their concerns if they feel a politician is in a conflict of interest on an item and members of council should have the same privilege,” she writes.

NEWS 1130 has reached out to Mayor Mike Morden for comment.