A contrite Victoria council backs away from plan to ask military to foot bill for policing events such as Remembrance Day

A contrite Victoria council backs away from plan to ask military to foot bill for policing events such as Remembrance Day

After a week of controversy, the amendment that sparked it all didn’t even make it to a vote at City Hall on Thursday night.

Victoria council supported a move to allocate up to $135,000 to fund policing for special events in the city including Canada Day.

But an amendment put forth by Councillor Ben Isitt to ask the Department of National Defence and Veteran’s Affairs to foot the bill for policing of military events such as Remembrance Day did not move forward.

It had been introduced by Isitt on the 75th anniversary of D-Day causing a flood of angry reactions from across the country.

The amendment had initially passed at Committee of the Whole by a vote of 6-3.

One Canadian Forces veteran was at City Hall to let council know what he thought of the idea.

“The motion is an incredible injustice to the men and women that risked their all for Canadian values and freedoms, and should now have to stand before their council to remind them of the concept of duty before self,” said Keith Rosenberg.

Mayor Lisa Helps, who opposed the amendment last week, acknowledged the damage it had done to the city’s reputation.

“I really want to signal from the capital city of British Columbia that there is a great deal of support and respect for the work that veterans are doing,” she said.

“And if anything came out of this council that signalled anything other than that, I am sorry on behalf of this council.”

The councillor at the centre of the firestorm used the opportunity to attack what he calls the “toxic political culture encouraged by some corporate media organizations and conservative political organizations.”

“To be frank, I think this agenda is dangerous and undermines our democratic institutions,” said Isitt.

“It distorts city council’s deliberations in order to stir up emotional reactions.”

Isitt repeated his apology for the timing of his amendment, but not for the idea of asking federal agencies to pay for policing at military events.

Earlier on Thursday, London Drugs had stepped forward with an offer to pay for Remembrance Day commemorations in Victoria.

“Our concern is that we want the focus to be on our veterans and current serving members of the Canadian armed forces,” said CEO Clint Mahlman.

“We felt that we could we step up and take that distraction away so the focus will be where it should be.”

In the end, council’s actions mean the offer from London Drugs won’t be needed.

“Council was clear and unanimous tonight in recognizing that Remembrance Day is a community event and that the city has a role to play in honouring people who have served and who are serving in the armed forces,” said Mayor Helps.

Ben O'HaraBen O'Hara

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