Godwin’s Law — a tenet which states any online discussion that continues long enough will almost certainly see someone compare someone else to Hitler — apparently has some bearing on local government as well, at least in one B.C. community.
Brett Smyth has resigned from North Saanich council effective immediately, just five months after his election, and shortly after publicly comparing his mayor to the leader of Nazi Germany.
In Smyth’s letter of resignation, he said the decision was not made lightly and was “made necessary, but not specifically,” in light of an “off-handed comment” he made at a recent council meeting.
While Smyth did not provide further details on the “off-handed comment” he made, during the March 20 regular council meeting he and Mayor Peter Jones sparred briefly during the mayor’s report.
“I think if we are to be transparent here, we need to have these meetings live streamed, and people’s CVs should be available to the public,” Smyth said in response to Jones stating municipal Official Community Plan working group meetings would not be livestreamed and member qualifications would not be published.
“You can do whatever you want because you have set it up in that way, in a very political way,” said Smyth before Jones interrupted, asking Smyth to refrain from making those statements.
“It is not a political approach, it is a practical approach to getting the new OCP done,” countered Jones.
“I cannot refrain from something that is the truth,” said Smyth, before Jones said he will no longer take any questions as the mayor’s report is for information only.
“Thank you Mr. Hitler,” Smyth said in response.
“I would have preferred a more positive environment at the municipal hall but when all voices are not respected, then it is difficult to practice the patience required of an elected official,” wrote Smyth in his resignation letter. “I am going to particularly miss the friendly professional relationships I have made with so many of our great staff, as well as the many residents I have met during the past four years and five months on council.”
He concluded his letter of resignation, addressed to Rachel Dumas, the district’s corporate officer, by wishing mayor and council good luck moving forward “with a more collaborative and free-thinking approach that has the best interests of all residents.”
In a statement from the district confirming the decision, a by-election will be held to fill Smyth’s seat on council as per the Community Charter, and details of that election will be made available soon.
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