Letters to the Editor: October 19

RCMP release of names; Wayne Stetski; Wayne Ackerman

Wayne Stetski

A number of letters have appeared in the Townsman over the past few months heaping abuse and scorn on Wayne Stetski for running for Parliament. Their tone can best be defined as decibels and epithets over facts and arguments.

The authors often invoke the fact that Stetski lost the last municipal election, and so he did.  But virtually all of the criticism is factually wrong or decontextualized:  it can be summed up by two slogans, “frivolous spending” (which has neither been documented nor discussed in any substantive detail) and “potholes” (which suggests Stetski somehow personally refused to execute the long term maintenance plan developed with city engineers, and underfunded by the provincial government).

One could be forgiven for thinking that the abuse amounts to a politically orchestrated campaign by partisan interests.  Oh well, every caravan has its barking dogs.  Stetski is not disqualified from running for and contributing to public office and the democratic process because of losing an election.  Indeed, he demonstrates personal courage and commitment to our communities in running again.

All of our candidates give enormous amounts of time, money and energy to the demands of seeking public office.  They do so at huge personal cost to themselves and their families.

Democracy doesn’t work without vigorous competition among folks with different ideologies and perspectives.  How about a little respect for the endeavour and the candidates?  Or would the critics prefer a mayor or MP for life — one who is identical to them, of course — who never has to test his or her ideas in an electoral competition?

Joyce Green, Cranbrook

Wayne Ackerman

In the 14 October paper  you published the obituary for Mr. Wayne Ackerman.

Many years ago Mr Ackerman played a very significant role in my life.

The first was with my role as the Administrator of the Village of Fraser Lake.  I had previously  been mayor of the Village for four terms so when  the Administrator quit I was working in Prince George and thought that if I could get the Fraser Lake job my family would be able to remain in Fraser Lake

I got the job.  On my first day the treasurer quit. You must remember that in a village office you  have  an administrator, a treasurer and a stenographer. Thats it There is no backup.

My very first action as Administrator was to contact the accounting firm which performed the village audit.  The man I talked to, and, who saved my bacon was Mr Ackerman.  I thought the world was coming to an end and in his calm and professional manner he had us on the right track in a very short time. I was forever grateful.

In the 1980’s a movement was started in central British Columbia to have a university located in Prince George.  In order to finance the lobbying costs expressions of interest were sold for I believe it was 5 or 10 dollars. I was given an area to sell these in and I guess the hunger for higher education was so great that I sold  several hundred and as a result gained some association with the cause.

In 1994 the official opening of the University of Northern BC occurred.  My wife, Arline, and I drove the 100 miles to Prince George.

When we entered the outdoor seating area we found a seat by beside Wayne Ackerman.  He looked at our programme and commented there was something different about it. As it turned out the programme we were given enabled us to meet the Queen.  If Wayne had not looked at our programme this event would never have occurred.

I thank Wayne  for the gifts of his friendship and guidance.

Angus Davis, Cranbrook

Release of Names

One of the comments we see most often on media sites below a police story is, who was involved, what are the names, why don’t they say who?

The Privacy Act governs the names and release of information.  In most cases people want to know who committed the crime or who was arrested, but in other cases there are comments seeking information of persons involved in traffic collisions or those that have died.

The RCMP is not allowed to release the name of a person that is simply arrested. The person must be charged prior to their name being released. RCMP policy goes one step further and does not release the name until the person makes a court appearance.  In some cases a person is in custody, charges are laid they go before a Justice of the Peace for a bail hearing.  This addresses release or detention, not the allegation and as such there is limited information.  The police generally don’t make a habit of following up when a person is charged and when their court date is for the purpose of informing the public.  The court lists are on line and available to anyone unless there is a publication ban, media outlets often use them to add a name to the story.  Police are also restricted in what they can say once the matter is before the courts.  So if a person is charged and the name becomes public police can’t discuss the evidence.

The RCMP can release names and photographs for persons where there is a Warrant of Arrest. They will also release names if there is a risk to the public, but only after careful consideration. Often involving legal consultation, balancing privacy and safety.

In the case of a deceased person, the BC Coroners Service is responsible for the release of names.  The police will can issue a brief release outlining the circumstances but further details and names will come from the Coroner’s Service.

Cpl. Chris Newel, Kimberley RCMP