POUCE COUPE, B.C. -Following a court order, the Village of Pouce Coupe says that a special council meeting on February 20th, removing Mayor Lorraine Michetti from all committees and boards, was invalid.
The village announced the decision on Facebook Friday, adding it had “consented to a court order setting aside the decisions made at that meeting”.
Council held the emergency meeting also requesting Michetti’s resignations after a controversial social media post she had published.
According to a petition to the court filed by Michetti on May 5th, the mayor wasn’t given enough notice of the meeting.
“Under section 126 of the community charter, the mayor can call a special meeting. In addition, two or more council members can call a special council meeting but only if they made a request in writing to the mayor and the mayor does not make arrangements within 24 hours of receiving the request to call a special meeting to be held within the next seven days,” said Michetti’s petition to the Supreme Court of B.C. against the Village.
Michetti claims she did not get notice of the meeting until a text was sent out from CAO Chris Leggett at 10:48 p.m. on February 19th.
“Hi Everyone, the special meeting is set for tomorrow at noon. Saturday the 20th. Due to the importance of it, I will drive to assist. I haven’t been able to reach Donna (White), though…I will try again in the morning. The Mayor has been notified of the meeting,” read the CAO’s text following the Village’s Facebook post announcing the meeting ten minutes prior.
The civil case document states Michetti didn’t receive any other notice nor an agenda for the meeting.
Along with only receiving notice 13 hours before the meeting, the document further states Michetti wasn’t given the purpose of the meeting.
“Council’s conduct also contravenes its own code of conduct, which includes a provision to ensure that a Council member who is subject to a complaint is entitled to a fair process including at least two weeks to prepare a response to allegations, a written report setting out the breaches, and an opportunity to make representations to Council.”
The petition states Michetti was denied reasonable notice and basic fairness. It asks for the meeting to be set aside so Michetti can address the serious issues raised by council.
The post published on Michetti’s Facebook page circulated social media around the Peace Region, resulting in multiple statements from Peace Region leaders.
Michetti’s Facebook post read, “Don’t want pipeline’s? They want to protect our land. Yeah ok”, followed by pictures of garbage-covered properties.
Two councillors had stepped down following the post, which Michetti refused to do.
On February 19th, Michetti responded to the sentiments expressed by residents labelling the comments as racist and hateful towards First Nations of the Peace.
In the statement, Michetti apologized to those offended by the post and said, “it was directed to address an issue that was not of cultural nature”.
“Beginning now, I will be taking a proactive approach to address the cultural indifference that has been embedded into our communities by learning more about diverse cultural people in our area, and I will that by taking an awareness and learning program that is currently available by a First Nations member of our community,” says Michetti’s statement.
The apology was written by Richard Mineault after Michetti reached out to him to participate in a cultural awareness workshop. Michetti claims she spent four hours with Mineault and was charged $100.
Protests, led by Mineault, continued for several months outside the village office following the comments.
At a special meeting on June 30th, William Lindsay was appointed Chief Election Officer and Pauline Laidman as Deputy Chief Election Officer for the by-election to fill the empty council seats.
An election date was discussed during the meeting, with the election officers leaning towards September 18th, 2021. Lindsay has 80 days to set a general voting day.
The petition to the court can be viewed below: