Victoria, Friday, November 11th, 2011. Petty Officer Greg Sly plays trumpet in the Naden Band, which performed during the Remembrance Day ceremony, held in front of the Legislative building in Victoria. (Gunnar Freyr Steinsson photo)

Victoria council to fund Remembrance Day ceremony; offers apologies to veterans

‘I am sorry on behalf of this council,’ said Mayor Lisa Helps

Victoria council dropped its plan Thursday to seek federal funds to cover Remembrance Day ceremony costs, deciding apologies to veterans and those currently serving in Canada’s Armed Forces were in order.

A council committee voted last week to approach the Defence Department and Veterans Affairs Canada about helping with policing costs for Remembrance Day events, but the move provoked widespread criticism from veterans and Canadians who said it was disrespectful to the military and the sacrifices made by those who serve.

READ MORE: London Drugs offers to pay Victoria’s Remembrance Day costs

Council decided instead to mend fences, voting unanimously to provide $135,500 from its contingency fund to help with policing costs for Canada Day, Remembrance Day and other events. The Remembrance Day funding amendment did not even come up for debate Thursday, but that did not stop several council members from apologizing over the uproar.

“I am sorry on behalf of this council,” said Mayor Lisa Helps, who opposed the original plan to approach the federal government for funding. “I think when we send any kind of signal that feels like disrespect to the military, that is not a good signal to send.”

Helps said she and the other members of council were inundated over the past week with messages from people across Canada upset about the plan to look for government funds for Remembrance Day ceremonies. She said debating Remembrance Day funding last Thursday on the 75th Anniversary of the D-Day invasion added more fire to the issue.

“I think all members of council gave this sober second thought,” she said outside of the meeting. “Those of us who did not support the motion last week, I think, we are very happy to see it not even hit the floor this evening.”

Coun. Ben Isitt initiated the request, saying the Canadian Forces budget is in the billions of dollars and should help the city defray some costs associated with the event.

He told council Thursday that the discussion about funding community events such as Remembrance Day was poorly timed.

“If anyone was offended by the timing of council’s consideration of that motion, my apologies, particularly to ex-soldiers and other ex-members of the Armed Forces,” said Isitt, who declined to make further comments after the meeting.

Canadian military veteran Keith Rosenberg addressed council, saying the members who voted in favour of the funding review last week, “should be ashamed of yourselves.”

He said council should apologize to all veterans and called for Isitt to step down from council.

Coun. Laurel Collins, who originally supported the motion to seek federal funding for Remembrance Day in Victoria, said she deeply regretted her decision.

“I’m sorry,” said Collins, who will run for the New Democrats in the Victoria riding in this fall’s federal election.

She also said council will not be considering an offer by drug store chain London Drugs to cover Victoria’s Remembrance Day costs.

“Thank you, but we’ve got this,” said Collins, who suggested the business make donations to veterans organizations.

Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Greater Victoria records second-lowest unemployment rate in Canada in September

Victoria’s unemployment rate of 3.2 per cent below Quebec City’s three per cent

Bonfires allowed in Saanich for $10 but only on Halloween night

Residents can purchase permits at any Saanich fire station

Fairfield-Gonzales residents aim to establish senior care phone line

The Fairfield-Gonzales Village would allow seniors living alone to have a direct line to resources

Power outage planned for Victoria General Hospital

Island Health says essential services and patient care won’t be impacted during Oct. 19 outage

The Great British Columbia ShakeOut returns Oct. 17

Residents across the province drop, cover and hold on

VIDEO: Greater Victoria, here’s the news you missed this weekend

Dog killed in alleged hit and run, Goodlife Marathon takes over city and more

‘Save the kids!’ Dorian survivor tells the harrowing story of his Canadian wife’s death

Family held a funeral and placed Alishia Liolli’s remains in a niche at a cemetery in Windsor, Ont.

Okanagan woman, 91, votes at advance polls despite broken hip, shoulder and wrist

Angela Maynard has voted in almost every election during her lifetime

Heiltsuk Nation open first Big House in 120 years in northern B.C.

Opening means the community now has an appropriate space for spiritual and ceremonial events

Singh says NDP would form coalition with the Liberals to stop Tories

Singh was in a Liberal-held riding Sunday afternoon in Surrey where he was pressed about his post-election intentions

‘My heart goes out to the mother’: B.C. dad reacts to stabbing death of Ontario boy

Carson Crimeni, who was also 14, was bullied relentlessly, his dad says

The one with the ‘Friends’ photoshoot: Kelowna group recreates TV show intro

A friend’s departure prompted them to create something that really says, “I’ll be there for you”

Canadian Snowbirds plane crashes before air show in Atlanta

Pilot lands safely after ejecting from jet

Share crash data, private insurers tell David Eby, ICBC

B.C. monopoly makes drivers retrieve their own records

Most Read