A Castlegar councilor has issued a public apology after what she deemed as “inappropriate and homophobic” comments by an audience member went unchecked at a recent council meeting.
Councillor Sue Heaton-Sherstobitoff issued the following statement:
At the Monday, April 1 council meeting a gentleman stood up and made some very inappropriate homophobic comments, along with comments about the homelessness in our community.
When I got home, I could not sleep as it really bothered me that not one of us on council or our staff intervened to tell him to sit down and be quiet — and for that I sincerely apologize. I should have said something — we should have all said something.
Question period is just for that – for community members to ask questions and not to provide comments or opinions. This was my very first encounter of such speech. I heard and recognized that inappropriate comments were being made, and was actually struggling in my head how to handle and address the person in this situation. I now know that to prevent these inappropriate statements from happening in the future, it has to be addressed head-on.
So, that behaviour will not be tolerated by me ever again. We say we are an inclusive and safe community for all – but this tells me that there are still some in our community that will never be inclusive and/or provide a safe haven for the LGBTQ+ community or for our homeless and for that I feel very sad.There is no room in our community or in our council chambers for this behavior.
So on Tuesday, May 21 – my dear friend Joan Alexander will be attending our council meeting and providing council and senior staff with an LGBTQ+ educational presentation. I encourage you all to attend as we all need to educate ourselves on how to be a truly inclusive and safe community.
So please accept my apology. I need to do better. We need to do better. And that is my promise to everyone.