Crowds gathered at the cenotaph at the B.C. legislature in 2017 for the Remembrance Day ceremony.
Darren Stone / Times Colonist
VICTORIA — The policing of Remembrance Day ceremonies will continue to be funded by the City of Victoria.Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps apologized Thursday night on behalf of council for any confusion or insult to veterans and serving military members caused during budget discussions last week. “I am sorry on behalf of this council,” said Helps.Helps proposed that council not even discuss a motion made by Coun. Ben Isitt on June 6, the 75th anniversary of D-Day, to approach the Department of National Defence and Department of Veterans Affairs to help fund policing costs for military-related events such as Remembrance Day.That motion set off a firestorm of criticism, which Helps wanted to put to rest.Councillors were unanimous in deciding to not discuss the motion and it was unceremoniously dropped.That didn’t stop Isitt only moments later, however, from addressing his concerns about “the toxic political culture that is being encouraged by some corporate media organizations and conservative political organizations in this country.”Isitt said the backlash to his motion “undermines our democratic institutions” and distorts city council deliberations and “discourages elected officials from asking the hard questions necessary to do the jobs that we were elected to do.”“The logical outcome of the smear campaign against this city council will be the rubber stamping of every request for funding and every other decision that comes across our desks, out of fear of causing offence.”Related
Victoria councillors unanimously agreed to allocate up to $135,300 from 2019 contingency funds to cover a police budget shortfall for special events.That includes $78,400 for Canada Day, $41,700 for special events run by non-profits, and an estimated $15,200 for policing military-related event, including Remembrance Day.Before the mayor’s apology, some councillors had already offered emotional apologies to veterans attending the meeting.Coun. Laurel Collins thanked the B.C.-based London Drugs for its offer Thursday to help fund Remembrance Day ceremonies in Victoria for the next few years “but we’ve got this,” said Collins.Royal Canadian Navy veteran John Appler said earlier Thursday that nothing short of an apology to veterans would suffice.Appler, who lives in Burnaby and served as a weapons technician aboard the HMCS Terra Nova, said his former shipmates wanted to boycott Victoria, where they had planned to have a five-to-six-day gathering for a 50th anniversary reunion in 2023. He was part of Canadian peacekeeping forces deployed to Vietnam in 1973 to help enforce the Paris Peace Accords at the end of the Vietnam War.“They won’t be happy with just the motion being recanted,” he said. “Victoria is disrespecting us, so why should we contribute to their tax base?Veterans were looking for a sincere apology from mayor and council, he said.“An awful lot depends on the sincerity of it,” said Appler. “We’re looking for justice.”Last week Port Coquitlam Mayor Brad West took to Twitter to call the motion a “classless, shameful move.” Others said Remembrance Day is not a military event, and called Isitt’s motion “disgusting” and “disgraceful.”On Thursday, West said he’d waive rental fees if the veterans wanted to host their reunion in his city.Appler acknowledged that in the 6-3 committee-of-the-whole vote that supported the motion last week, the mayor and councillors Geoff Young and Charleyne Thronton-Joe voted against.Last week, Isitt attributed the backlash to the timing rather than “council asking some hard questions about regional expenditures that are currently falling entirely on the taxpayers of Victoria and Esquimalt.” He also blamed the alt-right.On Thursday night Isitt too offered an apology to anyone he may have offended.CLICK HERE to report a typo. Is there more to this story? We’d like to hear from you about this or any other stories you think we should know about. Email email@example.com.