Editor: Within democratic societies, the law is most often the means by which the truth or an opinion can be brought forward by citizens. When one perceives that the actions of an elected council may be wrong, for whatever reason, the laws permitting freedom of speech are firmly entrenched and utilized.
Paradoxically, the banning of Jacob de Raadt, a citizen of Langley, from attending and speaking at public hearings in Langley Township is, in my opinion, a perversion of the law and the entire democratic process. Like our friend, the recently-departed, Eric Bysouth, de Raadt cares very much for Langley and its well-being.
The modus operandi for expressing that concern on the part of these two valued citizens was, and is, diametrically opposite. Where Bysouth was polite, soft-spoken and considerate in his council presentations, de Raadt is very animated, loud, vociferous, prolonged and yes, even rude sometimes. But he is a professionally trained engineer, a valued consultant, a consummate researcher of information and very passionate about right and wrong.
So why resort to legal means to ban de Raadt from the public council meetings? From my perception, it is probably because he is an embarrassment to this council.
De Raadt has made a number of council decisions look inadequate, unfair and ill-conceived. These are conclusions a growing number of people have reached in light of the actions of the present council who, save for one or two members, have:
– ignored the concerns of the majority of citizens at public hearings;
– ignored the need for a public hearing on the multi-million dollar underground wiring project for Fort Langley;
– ignored the educational and recreational value of land containing a 100- to 200-year-old forest and set an unattainable price and impossible deadline for public purchase for park and trails;
– ignored their own bylaws and Official Community Plans in designated Heritage Conservation Areas; and
– ignored the expertise and recommendations of their own staff.
Council members set a double standard for developers. Some have to obey the guidelines, some do not.
In conclusion, I say this: With the council we have, we need more Jacob de Raadts — not fewer.