A northern B.C. mayor who compared gun owners to Holocaust victims after being accused of anti-Indigenous racism says she’s sorry for any “uncaring posts” of her past – and will be seeking counselling for anger management and social media use.
But nearly a week after an explosive council meeting in the village of Pouce Coupe led to one councillor’s resignation, Lorraine Michetti said she’s still not planning to step down.
In a statement posted to the village’s Facebook page Sunday, Michetti said now more than ever she feels like she hasn’t completed the job she was elected to do and is humbly asking the council to work with her “so that we can lay everything on the table and move forward in a positive manner.”
Michetti said she’s had time to reflect on her comments and is saddened they were hurtful to Indigenous people, the Jewish community and those in the Peace region.
“I in no way ever meant for my comments to come across as racist but I now see my errors in judgment regarding my social media posts,” read Michetti’s latest post.
Along with undergoing counselling to control her temper, the Pouce Coupe mayor will seek cultural sensitivity training.
Council asked Michetti to resign and voted unanimously to remove her from all committee and board duties on Feb. 20, after screenshots surfaced of a controversial Facebook post from the mayor.
It read: “Don’t want Pipeline’s? They want to protect our land. Yeah ok”, and included photos of homes with garbage-strewn lawns.
Critics claimed it was a racist reference to Indigenous pipeline opponents.
Michetti apologized for the post, which she said was two years old, and admitted it was a mistake – but refused to resign over it.
“Our mayor’s comments are a black mark on this community,” said Pouce Coupe Coun. Ken Drover at the Feb. 20 special emergency meeting where they voted to censure Michetti.
The mayor, who did not attend the special emergency meeting, returned to face questions about the controversy at a heated regular meeting on Feb. 22.
“I find your attitude is very confrontational,” said Pouce Coupe Coun. Barb Smith, who was forced to partially remove her face mask several times when Michetti complained she couldn’t hear the councillor speak while it was on.
“I don’t feel the empathy on what you’ve done.”
“Because I’m not sitting here crying, you think I’m not remorseful?”, responded Michetti.
Drover also asked Michetti to explain why she compared gun owners to Holocaust victims in another social media post.
“You would liken your position to a Jew in a cattle car waiting to go to…”, Drover said before being cut off by the mayor.
“Once they take our guns away, back to Hitler that’s what it was all about,” Michetti offered.
“You know what, that is a terrible, terrible comparison,” Drover responded.
“How dare you compare yourself to a Jewish person.”
“That again, was taken out of context,” said Michetti.
In her Feb. 28 statement, the mayor admitted she needs to be much more cognizant of what she’s saying during conversations because she never wants to repeat what she said: “regarding the World War Two Jews.”
“I know of several families including my own that had family members that fought in that war to stop the Nazi war machine and it appalls me to think that I may have done anything to disrespect their memory,” wrote Michetti.
“I have always just called it as I see it, never thinking about how the interpretation could be taken, LESSON LEARNED! I WAS VERY WRONG!”.
Drover submitted his resignation to the village on Feb. 24.
It doesn’t appear Michetti will be leaving her post anytime soon – even as her colleagues wonder how they’ll be able to work together for Pouce Coupe’s just under 800 residents – amid the current dysfunction.
“I just don’t understand how we can move forward and you still sit in this chair and get to village business,” said Smith as the mayor cut her off at the Feb. 22 meeting.
“Well Barb, I ain’t going anywhere,” said Michetti.
“I ain’t going anywhere.”