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 Mr. Jacob De Raadt, a citizen of Langley, from attending and speaking at public hearings in Langley [Gadfly banned from talking to council, Dec. 6, Langley Advance], is a perversion of the law and the entire democratic process.
Like our friend the recently departed Eric Baysouth, Mr. 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 Eric was polite, soft-spoken, and considerate in his council presentations, Jacob is very animated, loud, vociferous, prolonged, and yes, even rude sometimes.
But Jacob 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 Jacob from the public council meetings?
It is probably because he is an embarrassment to this council. Jacob 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 current council which, save for one or two members, has:
- 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 100- to 200-year old-growth forest and set an unattainable price and impossible deadline for public purchase for park and trails;
- ignored it own bylaws and Official Community Plans in designated Heritage Conservation Areas; and
- ignored the expertise and recommendations of its own staff.
They set a double standard for developers. Some have to obey the guidelines, some do not.
With our council, we need more Jacob de Raadts, not less.
Bob Blackhall, Langley