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(Updated @ 3.10 p.m.): Mayor Colin Basran made a short speech at City Hall this afternoon about being the target of a threatening comment online.
It can be viewed in full below:
His full statement read:
I’d like to speak frankly about an incident yesterday and the larger issue of bullying and harassment.
I want to make a few remarks around what I consider objectionable and inappropriate behaviour.
As you may know, the RCMP are investigating allegations of online threats directed at myself. Police have identified and arrested a suspect and it is now before the courts. The actions of the RCMP clearly illustrate the seriousness of this issue.
As elected officials, it truly is an honour to lead our community. We are tasked with making numerous decisions, both large and small, that we hope will positively benefit our community not only now, but for years to come. But we as elected representatives know that decisions we make face public scrutiny and regardless of the outcome, not everyone will be satisfied.
Criticism of our decisions and debating issues facing our community is nothing new and it often helps lead to better outcomes. But online comments made by one of our residents yesterday, encouraging violence, is where I draw the line. By ignoring the comment and not saying anything, to me, would just be condoning this type of behaviour.
I have to stand up for my Council colleagues and the elected representatives at all levels to say that this incident is not acceptable under any circumstance.
It’s unacceptable to me, it’s unacceptable to my family and I am sure it’s unacceptable to the majority of society.
But this isn’t just about me.
Democracy is sometimes messy, and controversial issues sometimes generate strong feelings. But that’s what makes our community strong – exercising an open mind, humility and mutual respect and especially with those with whom we disagree.
The bigger issue here is about civility and a collective commitment to civil discourse. More than ever, it’s vital to challenge those who use personal attacks, online bullying, or vulgar language to stifle opposing points of view.
This is not the behaviour that encourages the diverse and inclusive community we are all working so hard to build.
Simply put, it is sad that I have to stand here and make a plea for civility and talk about why bullying and harassment is intolerable.
As upsetting as this has been, I believe this is an opportunity for our community to grow. It’s a reminder that we can disagree with one another, but we can do so respectfully. We all see the world a little differently and that’s a good thing.
Kelowna should be a place where we can share our views without fear of bullying and harassment. That is the Kelowna my Council colleagues and I will continue to build together.
(Updated @ 10.45 a.m.): A 52-year-old man from Kelowna has been arrested after Mayor Colin Basran was the victim of a threatening comment online.
Kelowna RCMP said the suspect was arrested following a report of "threats uttered online towards a City of Kelowna official".
"As a result of their investigation, police have identified and arrested a suspect in connection with the alleged threats made," the RCMP explained.
"The suspect, a 52-year-old Kelowna man, faces potential criminal charges.
"He was released on strict conditions and is expected to appear in Court on June 24, 2019."
(Original story @ 9 a.m.): Mayor Colin Basran was “brought to tears” after a social media user said someone should “put a bullet” in him.
The mayor wrote on his Instagram account this morning to share his feelings about an abusive comment made in response to a controversial development in Pandosy Village.
The 22-unit, six-storey building was voted down by council last month but Basran exercised his executive privilege to have it brought back to council on Monday, where it was passed.
When the story was posted on a Kelowna news site’s Facebook page, one commenter wrote: “Put a bullet in this f***tard…”
Basran said “you expect some criticism” as a political figure, but added: “The post above goes beyond anything I would have ever expected.”
“This may not be a big deal to some, but this is incredibly hurtful to my family and I. So much so, I’ll admit it brought me to tears.
“I’m scared, angry, sad and everything in between. I put up with a lot of criticism at times, but threatening my safety is completely unacceptable!”
He concluded: “If this is the new norm for elected officials, I want no part of it.”
KelownaNow has requested more information from the RCMP.