June 7, 2019 11:47 am
Updated: June 8, 2019 6:09 am

Victoria councillor slammed for ‘disgraceful’ pitch to bill military for Remembrance Day

WATCH: Victoria Coun. Ben Isitt is defending his proposal to ask the Canadian military to help fund events such as Remembrance Day. Kylie Stanton reports and Keith Baldrey has more reaction.


A Victoria city councillor is facing fierce blowback after proposing the Canadian military take on more responsibility for funding commemorative events such as Remembrance Day.

The issue cropped up at a committee of the whole meeting Thursday, where Victoria city council was debating the city’s financial responsibility for policing on Canada Day.

During the debate, which was taking place on the 75th anniversary of D-Day, Coun. Ben Isitt proposed an amendment asking “that council direct staff to engage [The Department of National Defence] DND/Veterans Affairs Canada officials to seek to recover costs associated with military events in the city.”

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WATCH: Victoria city councillor wants military to pay for commemoration ceremonies

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Isitt argued the DND has a $20-billion budget and was better equipped to fund policing than the municipality, which has limited tax resources.

“I think it’s worth trying to recover those costs. I think responsibility for military commemorations honouring veterans is more properly the responsibility of those federal agencies,” said Isitt.

READ MORE: Victoria could cut back Canada Day celebration due to policing costs

Isitt’s proposal, which was approved in committee, was met with outrage, much of it stemming from the timing of the amendment on the historic anniversary.

It was supported by councillors Jeremy Loveday, Sara Potts, Marianne Alto and Laurel Collins. Mayor Lisa Helps and councillors Georr Young and Charlayne Thornton-Joe voted against it.

WATCH: Policing costs could scale back Victoria Canada Day party

“What Victoria council did was shameful, was disgraceful, was insulting, and all of them should be ashamed,” Port Coquitlam Mayor Brad West told Charles Adler Tonight on CKNW.

“If they had any inkling of understanding, how could you sit in those council chambers in the capital city of our province and pass a motion like this? I don’t understand it. I can’t pretend to understand it. It boggles the mind. It’s just so unacceptable.”

READ MORE: Protesters demand Victoria city council drop proposed ban on horse-drawn carriages

On Friday, Isitt responded to the flap in a blog post titled “priorities and distractions,” in which he blamed the D-Day timing of the motion on an “accident of agenda planning.”

Isitt argued that “conservative political forces and their agents in the corporate media” had ignored council’s support of a new $90-million housing program, and “chosen to distort” council’s “benign request for assistance from federal authorities into a supposed affront to war veterans.

WATCH: Victoria city councillor says no to taxpayer Christmas decorations

“Economic elites have always resorted to distraction to maintain their powers and privileges — whether in 1930s Germany or in North America today,” wrote Isitt.

“We should not be surprised that neofascist, ‘alt-right’ formations such as the Proud Boys and more moderate conservative voices in the corporate media would prefer that citizens in Victoria and other communities focus on controversy — rather than on tackling the major challenges of our time.”

READ MORE: Victoria city councillor wants less decking the halls with boughs of holly

Isitt was re-elected to Victoria council last October with the most votes of any councillor, and about 2,000 more votes than Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps.

He previously courted controversy last December when he proposed the city cut back on taxpayer-funded Christmas decorations.

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