Updated Jan. 31
Don Richardson would like an opportunity for he and his fellow Sicamous councillors to seek divine guidance at the start of district committee of the whole meetings.
The notion for such a motion was introduced by Richardson late in last Wednesday’s committee meeting. Richardson asked that the call to order might begin with an opening prayer.
“There’s a number of validations to that,” Richardson explained. “One, it’s recognized by our federal government, the first sentence in our constitution, is whereas Canada recognizes the sovereign authority of God under the rule of law. Our national anthem says, God keep our land, glorious and free. I’m not saying church and state mixing. What I’m saying is we set up a process that recognizes a divine power that, in my mind, would help direct us.”
Mayor Darrell Trouton supported Richardson’s motion to introduce an opening prayer. The only councillor to speak in response, however, was Fred Busch, who said he would vote against it.
“I consider myself to be a Christian and a member of a church, I feel very uncomfortable in doing this because I think every person should have an opportunity to practise their own form of religion and I think… I just don’t feel this is the place for it,” said Busch. “I don’t think there are any other municipalities that I’m aware of that do this and second, who is going to do it?”
Acting district administrator Ruth Walper intervened in the evidently uncomfortable debate. She noted the meeting’s agenda is set up in council’s meeting bylaw. She suggested that Richardson’s motion, an impromptu addition, be brought back to the next committee meeting. Then staff would have information on what would be required to implement it.
All of council, with the exception of the mayor and Richardson, voted down the motion. Then council unanimously agreed to another motion to have staff bring information back to a later meeting on the process to introduce an opening prayer.
Richardson noted the opening prayer would not be affiliated with any organizations of faith, that it was just a protocol that seemed worthy of exercising.