Man forcibly removed from council chambers can still attend meetings

Over past 20 years, there have been three people banned from Township meetings, says mayor.

  • May. 24, 2016 8:00 a.m.

A man who was handcuffed and forcibly removed from Township council chambers by RCMP on May 9 is still allowed to attend future meetings.

Despite being escorted out by police four times over the last two years — including being physically dragged from chambers at least twice — it is not enough to have him banned, Mayor Jack Froese told the Times.

“We are certainly looking at our options. This isn’t the first time in the history of the Township of Langley that there has been someone disruptive in council chambers or with mayor and council,” Froese said.

Over the past 20 years, three people have been banned from attending meetings in Township — one by court order and two by council directive.

Although the man in question has not made any threats as defined in the criminal code, Froese has been told by audience members that his behaviour makes them uncomfortable.

“It’s unsettling for a lot of people,” Froese said.

“I have no problem with people giving a speech (or) with people standing up at the appropriate time to give council input, but it has to be done in a respectful manner.

“He hasn’t made an overt threat to anyone. His demeanour may appear to be threatening to some people, but I haven’t seen him make a threat to anybody.

“I think people are threatened by him, whether he would carry anything out, I don’t know, I couldn’t answer that.”

The man, who sometimes shows up to council with a large white protest sign and printed-out speeches, has been asked to leave during three public hearings, and again on May 9, at he beginning of the regular evening meeting.

“We have been very patient with him, allowing him to speak at public hearings,” Froese said.

“And then you get to the point where I have to remind him what the topic is … and that’s where it tends to get irate. At that point I ask him to sit down, and if he doesn’t do that then I ask him to leave, and if he doesn’t do that then I order him to leave.

“This is a pattern that seems to be getting worse.”

Froese has the authority to ask RCMP to remove anyone who disrupts the meetings, under Section 133 of the Community Charter.

Should the Township want to ban the man from attending, they would have to go to civil court and get an injunction.

“A judge would have to look at it and there would have to be a pattern, and there would have to be something significant there — a one-time (incident) wouldn’t be enough to provide that,” Froese said.

“But if we can provide information and the judge can say, ‘OK, there is a pattern here’ … they’ll provide that injunction or that ban. So certainly we are looking into that, but we have to do that through the legal channels.”

The man has also attended council meetings in the City of Langley, but has never caused a disturbance or been escorted out by police, CAO Francis Cheung said.

In the 10 years he has been CAO of the City, Cheung says they have never had to forcefully remove or prohibit anyone from attending council meetings.