Earlier this year the now-defeated Columbia River-Revelstoke NDP candidate Gerry Taft stated in an email to NDP insiders that he does not believe there are barriers to political participation in Invermere or British Columbia. His remarkable position in that regard was quite bizarre considering he used the NDPs equity mandate to secure his nomination. It is also somewhat ironic because mayor of Invermere Taft has no problem censoring political participation right here in Invermere.
Within days of his provincial election drubbing Taft suddenly took a predictably renewed interest in the municipal political office he had fully intended to dump. He set up a Facebook page titled Gerry Taft, Mayor of Invermere which purported to be an official municipal political page. Believing this to be a nation of free speech, I decided to post my opinion on his Mayor of Invermere page that Invermere needs a new mayor. I was immediately banned from the page and received a lengthy personal email from Mr. Taft complaining about my opposition to his run for provincial office and telling me I would remain banned from the mayors page until I could prove to him that I do not have a personal vendetta against him.I must presume that merely proposing that Invermere needs a new mayor is verboten under his vague and capricious rules. Apparently I must also meet his standards for provincial elections to participate on the Mayor of Invermeres Facebook page.
Fiat justitia ruat clum – Let justice be done though the heavens fall. Justice in this nation begins with free speech at all levels of government freedom to dissent, freedom to question, criticize and even condemn elected officials. Given this mayors questionable style and conduct, the District of Invermere should act promptly to implement a clear written policy regarding how elected municipal officials may use their public office and the municipality itself in social media activities.
The DOI council must protect freedom of speech and the right to dissent. The mayor must excuse himself from the council table on this issue as he is now in conflict of interest.
Gerry Taft the private individual may choose his Facebook friends but Gerry Taft, Mayor of Invermere is bound by law and may not capriciously silence dissent and erect barriers to a citizens right to political participation. If nothing else the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms spells that out very clearly.
In the meantime, I would like to suggest that Invermere needs a new mayor. The reasons should be becoming clear by now.