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Brodie questions Richmond city councillors' views on disinformation

One councillor suggested people had voted multiple times, but backtracked on her statement.
Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie

Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie seemed to be fending off both his left flank and right flank at Monday night’s city council meeting.

On the one hand, in a discussion about disinformation during elections, he challenged Coun. Carol Day – on his left - who claimed people had voted multiple times in elections.

On the other hand, he didn’t understand why some councillors – on his right - didn’t support a motion to fight disinformation during elections.

Day seemed to back-track on her statement that "all sorts of crazy things happen" during elections like "people voting multiple times," after Coun. Kash Heed said this was “new information” to him.

“I’ve just heard stories in the past, especially with federal elections, where busloads of people were brought in to vote for a candidate because they wanted a particular candidate to get elected … to be a certain party candidate for that election,” Day clarified.

Brodie responded by saying she should “be precise” about what she’s talking about.

“That really was an inflammatory remark,” he said, noting she was talking about the federal and provincial nomination process.

Furthermore, he added, her clarification talks about people being bused in, not voting multiple times.

“That’s clearly not the case,” he said.

The city told the Richmond News they are not aware of any cases of people voting multiple times in the city’s municipal election.

After admonishing Day, Brodie went on to question why some city councillors wouldn’t support stopping the spread of disinformation about candidates and the electoral process as well as streamlining the mail-in process, questioning whether they really supported these issues.

The provincial government is looking to update its election laws.

Coun. Chak Au suggested city council write to the province to say they supported certain key points.

This included saying placing restrictions on false statements about candidates’ and senior party officials’ biographical information, cracking down on spreading disinformation about the electoral process and streamlining the vote-by-mail process.

“If you don’t support that (motion), so you do want to be able to intentionally make false statements about biographical information, is that what you’re saying?” Brodie asked the councillors who opposed it. “That you want the deliberate spread of misinformation, is that what you’re saying? And you’re saying you don’t want to streamline the vote-by-mail process to make it more accessible for people?”

“I just don’t understand it.”

Coun. Bill McNulty said he wanted more information about the provincial electoral reforms, but he added that doesn’t mean he doesn’t support the three issues that were on the table.

“We’re putting a little band-aid on a bruise – we’re not really addressing the issue,” he said.

Coun. Andy Hobbs also clarified he’s not opposed to fighting disinformation or slowing down mail-in ballots – adding he didn’t think anyone at the city council table was opposed to that - but the “timing” wasn’t right.  

The motion was defeated with Couns. McNulty, Hobbs, Heed, Laura Gillanders and Alexa Loo voting against it.