Tuesday, June 23, 2015

RCMP Called To Nanaimo City Council Chambers

Delegate being asked to leave Chambers
"Signman" ejected from Council Chambers


Like all issues involving people's rights there is usually no simple answer that will please everyone and depending on the issue, opinions can change.

The matter of signs being held up during city council meetings is not a new one, with the 'Signman' being a regular at city council since the last city council under John Ruttan sat in chambers.

Are signs a legitimate form of expression which is guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms?  That is a position which seems to have support in the legal community according to some I have spoken with. Defending a legal challenge of course is something which favours those with the deepest pockets.

The matter of signs in Nanaimo City Council chambers, to my knowledge became an issue with Mayor McKay during the meeting when the 'Signman' held up a sign saying the Mayor had flip flopped on his campaign promises. At that meeting the Mayor asked the Signman to put his sign down, which he did. End of the first round.

The following meeting brought out a flurry of signs which remained even when the Mayor asked they not be displayed. No ejection, no enforcement and no calling the police.

The 'Signman' attended the June 22 council meeting and held up a sign opposing the granting of tax dollars to special interest groups in the city. The Mayor objected to the sign and asked the citizen to put it down, at which point another citizen also held up a sign in obvious support.

Long story short, neither people complied with the Mayors request at which point he recessed the meeting and asked for Security to escort the two from the Chambers. After a short time the two 'offenders' left the chambers and the meeting reconvened.

One of the 'offenders' at this point returned to Chambers, being a registered delegate for an item on the agenda. The Mayor asked him to leave again to which the delegate responded that he had indeed complied with the first request to leave, and in fact did not have any signs and made the point he was a registered delegate.

At this point the Mayor once again recessed the meeting calling on the Legislative Officer to call the RCMP to have the delegate removed.

For approximately 20 minutes those in attendance were witness to a stand-off with the delegate refusing to leave and the Mayor refusing to allow him to stay, albeit absent signs. One councillor seemed to finally prevail in persuading the delegate to leave, which they finally did and the meeting then continued.


I have asked our Mayor if the City is now issuing an outright ban on signs in Council Chambers. I asked this question before and never received a clear answer.

Should the City allow signs in Chambers but establish rules that would limit where they can be displayed, for example the back two rows only so that others are not being obstructed?

Should the size of the sign be limited to being no bigger than the width of your own body and not be displayed above your head?

For a certainty Nanaimo does not need another 'Charter' issue grabbing national press as we are also being known as the community plagued with racism.



  1. It was clear that Dianna Johnstone could complete her presentation. There was no vocal outbursts, No one was jumping up and down! The only disruption to the meeting was when the Mayor decided HE wanted to make it an issue.

    ONE of the signs was even made up by McKay prior to the election when he worked as manager for a sign company. McKay discussed the size of typeface and the number of signs, to be used at council and protests during the Leadercast debate. Along comes the election and NOW the righteous Mayor disapproves! Anyone wonder where the Mayor gets his nickname?

    After the signs were removed from the building, the meeting resumed until the mayor clued in. There was no signs, no noise, no disruption. It quickly became evident THIS was not about the signs. The Mayour wanted to continue his hissy-fit.

    1. You Rock Tim!!!! Don't ever change. You speak for all us little guys.

  2. How politicians "flip" when power inflates them.

    A short year ago then councillor McKay WANTED the Sign Man to make up signs denouncing Mayor Ruttan and advertising for "New Leadership Needed." I was yet another witness who heard those very statements from McKay's lips.

    As for last night, maybe it just came down to a pissing match - the Sign Man's signs were bigger than the mayor's smaller "I Love Culture" button on his jacket. But regardless, should the mayor be wearing such a bias button when he is there to impartially watch public tax monies!

    Times have changed in Nanaimo and not for the better. Where's Mr. Ruttan?


  3. Is Nanaimo so lacking in Culture, that it's existence needs to be subsidized by the public purse? If Nanaimo wants culture, it should first look to restoring the culture that it did its best to destroy, not a culture that perpetuates colonial values and control.


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