BREAKERS: Wiese campaign issues false statements – Day of Relief for Ukraine – Latest bullying at Town Hall

October 03, 2022

  • Day of Giving for Relief in Ukraine – St. Mark’s Oct 8
  • Wiese campaign manager publishes false information
  • New owner for Village Garage
  • Censure – the latest allegations of bullying and harassment at QB Town Hall
  • Shoppers Scene in QB

Day of Giving for Relief in Ukraine – October 8

A Day of Giving for Relief in Ukraine will be held at St. Mark’s Anglican Church on Saturday, October 8 from 10 a.m. to noon at the Church Hall at 138 Hoylake Road W., just off of Memorial Avenue, in Qualicum Beach.

St. Mark’s Anglican Church, 138 Hoylake Road W., at Memorial Avenue in Qualicum Beach.

St. Mark’s is calling on the community to donate cheques or cash to Ukraine through the Anglican Church of Canada’s agency for sustainable relief and development, the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF).

“The PWRDF works not only with churches, but with many community groups and agencies,” says the Ven. Elizabeth Northcott, archdeacon at St. Mark’s in a press release. “Donations go directly to relief partners working in the field in Ukraine.”             

“In my experience, Thanksgiving is a time when people who feel thankful in our community are looking for ways to share with others,” says Northcott. “We want people to know about these vital, active campaigns in Ukraine.”

Northcott says the agency has already seen a tremendous outpouring of support for Ukraine from Canadians. “But as the war passes its 200th day, our help is ever more urgently needed for civilian relief.” 

The money goes to relief organizations in Ukraine that are bringing aid where it’s needed most, mobilizing food, medical equipment and shelter to people internally displaced in wartorn areas of Ukraine. Help for refugees who have fled is also important. Aid is extended to seniors, who are accompanying grandchildren and relatives over the border to countries such as Moldova, where one in four refugees are seniors. Another program provides psychological assistance for displaced children and families. If you can’t make it in person, call 250.752.5414 for instructions to donate online. — LS

Wiese campaign manager publishes false information about local group’s efforts to host all-candidates meeting

In an apparent attempt to disrupt a local group’s efforts to host a public all-candidates meeting for the October 15, 2022 municipal election, Mary Brouilette, campaign manager for Brian Wiese’s mayoral re-election bid, has written a letter containing false and misleading information.

Second Opinion QB has reviewed copies of the communications between “Team Wiese” and the Qualicum Beach Residents Association (QBRA) regarding this matter, confirming that Ms. Brouilette made false and misleading statements in her letter. This is not the first time that Ms. Brouilette, a former one-term Town councillor who failed in her bid for re-election, has broadcast false information during a local election campaign.

In early September 2022, QBRA invited all election candidates to an all-candidates meeting on September 25 at the Civic Centre. QBRA event organizers also invited mayoral candidate Brian Wiese directly by email, first on September 9 (no reply), and again on September 14, to which “Team Brian” responded to event organizer Lance Nater, “Thanks Lance, we will be in touch shortly with some questions prior to confirming attendance.”

Nine days later, on September 23 — and only two days prior to the all-candidates meeting scheduled to be held (Sunday, September 25) — Wiese emailed Nater. Wiese’s email contained no message, only a copy of Mary Brouilette’s letter (back-dated to September 16, 2022) containing demands for debate terms and conditions.

“Back-dating” documents is a tactic typically used by unscrupulous actors intending to mislead others, and can be illegal, depending on the circumstances. Ms. Brouilette should know this, especially given her previous experience working for a local credit union branch.

Brouilette’s letter to the QBRA event organizers contained a list of demands prescribing how the all-candidates event should be conducted. Having been given a “deadline of 1 p.m.” that same day, says Nater, a QBRA director, there was insufficient lead time to even consider Ms. Brouilette’s September 23 letter. Brouilette has subsequently published her letter on Wiese’s campaign website.

The QBRA did not accept Mr. Wiese’s demands. In his email reply to Ms. Brouilette on September 29, Nater said, “we believe that candidates should not dictate how the meeting is conducted.” Nater noted that Wiese attended other all-candidates meetings without any apparent last-minute demands.  

Apart from publishing a letter that falsely implies it was sent on September 16 to create the misleading impression that “Team Wiese” had responded in a timely manner, event organizers Pat Jacobson and Lance Nater, QBRA directors, refute the “assumptions, innuendo and outright inaccuracies” in Ms. Brouilette’s letter. They say Brouilette’s references to the “Common Ground Group,” wrongly imply that this group was formed for the purpose of arranging all-candidates meetings.

In Nater’s response to Brouilette, he states that the so-called Common Ground Group’s only purpose was to issue a joint letter to the Town Administration expressing concerns about the Town’s emergency management operations.

Contrary to a statement published by the PQB News on September 14, 2022 that “the meeting is sponsored by the QBRA, in collaboration with the Eaglecrest, Chartwell and Qualicum Woods Residents’ Associations, according to the Town of Qualicum Beach website,” Nater says, “The only collaboration between the ERA and the QBRA,” said Nater “was the hiring of the same video recording firm for both meetings, as suggested by the QBRA, as well as agreement to publicize each other’s events.”

Nater also reminded Brouilette that the Eaglecrest Residents Association (ERA) organized their all-candidate meeting without input or demands from the QBRA or from other candidates.

QBRA’s response to Ms. Brouilette’s letter also took issue with her criticism of the QBRA’s changing its membership bylaws to permit non-Town residents to become members. “This was done because there are people who live outside our Town boundaries, sometimes [just] across the street, and actively participate in our community. Perhaps you could explain how members of Council can reside well beyond Town borders, but residents close by our borders should be excluded,” wrote Nater.

Ms. Brouilette also took the opportunity in her September 16 letter to complain about QBRA members running for election, at the same time as the organization was hosting an all-candidates meeting. That is not an unusual practice.

Team Wiese, plus Robert Filmer and Scott Harrison (three out of five sitting Council members), chose not to attend the QBRA all-candidates meeting (perennial candidate Dave Willie also did not attend), but eight of the twelve candidates running in this election did participate, giving the public an opportunity to hear these candidates running for public office. WATCH the QBRA all-candidates meeting. — LS

New owner takes the helm at Village Garage

Effective October 31, 2022, Mid Island Co-op will assume ownership and operation of the Village Garage service station located at 655 Memorial Avenue and First Avenue in Qualicum Beach, BC.

Village Garage, 655 Memorial Avenue at First Avenue in Qualicum Beach, BC.

Darla Tate, the station’s current owner has sold the business she has operated as a Petro-Canada gas bar for more than 30 years. “The decision to sell has been an emotional one,” she says.

“It has been a privilege to be part of the community in this way and to have met so many people and made so many memories. Knowing that Mid Island Co-op shares many of the same values makes me confident they will continue to serve the community well for years to come.”

“Mid Island Co-op is excited for this opportunity,” stated Ian Anderson, CEO of Mid Island Co-op. “Our co-operative principle of giving back to the communities in which we operate have guided our business for over 63 years and we’re delighted to serve the community of Qualicum Beach.

This location in Qualicum Beach is Mid Island Co-op’s 17th gas bar and C-store and will provide another convenient location to serve its members and customers across Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. [Full disclosure, a Second Opinion QB reporter works part-time at Village Garage.] — LS

Censure – the latest allegation of bullying and harassment at QB Town Hall

Recent communications regarding an event that allegedly happened three years ago are troubling both in their timing (on the eve of an election) as well as their lack of transparency. Here’s what we have been told, and what we do not know.

Qualicum Beach Town Council (not Town Administration) issued an unsigned Media Release on September 9, 2022 recounting a Council motion from December 8, 2021 to censure Councillor Westbroek for “conduct unbecoming of a member of Town Council.”

The Media Release claims that the 2021 resolution was a unanimous decision of Council.

The official Minutes for the December 8, 2021 meeting state that all five members of Council were in attendance. The Media Release does not include the fact that the Council’s discussion and decision to censure were conducted in camera (closed to the public).

The Council’s Media Release acknowledges that the public were informed of this resolution to censure via the agenda for the January 12, 2022 regular Council meeting. In case readers are looking for it, the resolution is buried at the bottom of page 9 in the agenda’s attachments, rather than on the first page of the agenda as is customary practice for motions previously adopted in meetings closed to the public.

No details were publicly released by the Town in January 2022 to explain what exactly Councillor Westbroek was alleged to have done, and when, and to whom, so that the public could assess for itself the relative seriousness of the unspecified alleged conduct.

Council’s Media Release goes on to explain that “Council” (without specifying which members, leaving doubt that it was unanimous) on September 6, 2022 suddenly felt obliged to publicly rehash the issue “in the public’s interest” exactly four weeks before advance polls open.

We have obtained additional information indicating that Westbroek allegedly asked Town staff to “destroy records associated with a previous finding against him, which determined that he had violated the Town’s Bullying and Harassment Policy.” OK, but we’re still left wondering what was he orginally accused of doing? When? And to whom?

Westbroek’s Campaign Team Responds

Councillor Westbroek’s campaign team in its own September 9, 2022 Media Release response claims that the “records” Westbroek allegedly asked to be expunged consisted of “a single letter written by a former [unnamed] employee [to an unnamed recipient], without Council direction or knowledge, about an incident that occurred during the September 16, 2019 regular [i.e. public] Council Meeting, and is not marked ‘personal and confidential’, and states that ‘no formal complaint was submitted and accountability was readily accepted and the apology has been issued’.”

The public’s interest would be well-served by an immediate complete disclosure by the Town, unredacted, of the radioactive staff memo from three years ago that has been weaponized by Westbroek’s political opponents on Council, and perhaps by disgruntled staff inside Town Hall Administration as well.

We are not told whether the author of this letter was the actual “victim” of harassment and/or bullying at the 2019 Council meeting, or a second-hand observer of the alleged infraction. Who was the victim of the alleged bullying and harassment? Just how badly was s/he harmed? The incident apparently happened in a public meeting? Were there any witnesses?

Candidates thinking of standing for election deserve a better understanding about where exactly the line gets drawn inside Town Hall. Am I allowed to criticize the work of a staff or Council member that doesn’t meet my expectation? Can I frown when doing so? Raise my voice in exasperation, just a little, without having someone call the harassment cops?

The public’s interest would be well-served by an immediate complete disclosure by the Town, unredacted, of the radioactive staff memo from three years ago that has been weaponized by Westbroek’s political opponents on Council, and perhaps by disgruntled staff inside Town Hall Administration as well.

All-in-all, given the existing local climate of cheap-shot politics, this does not pass the smell test.

Especially if, as alleged in the Westbroek response, Mayor Wiese texted Westbroek back in January 2022: “It may be best to resign and use any excuse that you need. I can only assume your lawsuit will go away and there would be no need to publicize the censure.”

Now that is most definitely an example of the kind of harassment and bullying we don’t need in Town Hall. Not to mention the bare-knuckle intimidation and threat. — GS

Shoppers Scene in QB

Visitors enjoying our shopping scene. Lovely lady from Lasqueti Island sporting her Lasqueti Last Resort Society bag on Second Avenue. Two blocks away, another shopper happily modelled her new boots, perfect for fall she said, just as the first of QB’s Memorial Avenue maple leaves twirled down to complete the picture. — LS