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Richmond council candidate balks at closed-door meetings

Jasmine Piao spoke to city council in March at which time the audience started heckling council about in-camera meetings.
Jasmine Piao challenged city council in March over accessibility issues and a vaccine mandate.

One Richmond city council candidate said she was inspired to run in the Oct. 15 municipal election after discovering there were closed-door meetings at city hall.

Jasmine Piao attended a city council meeting in March to talk about accessibility issues during the May 2021 by-election.

But she also spoke about the vaccination mandate that was imposed on all city staff last year, a decision made by city council.

In December, 36 city staff members, including nine fire fighters, refused to show proof of vaccination and were put on unpaid leave. They were, however, given some back pay after a mediated resolution.

Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie told her the vaccination decision was dealt with in a closed meeting, clarifying the Community Charter determines what can be discussed in closed-door meetings, sometimes referred to as in-camera meetings.

While Piao was speaking, audience members started heckling city council, asking questions about closed-door meetings and why decisions are made in these meetings.

On her social media feed, Piao links to her presentation and discussion with the mayor.

After a testy exchange with questions coming from the audience, Brodie eventually explained what was happening with the vaccination mandate.

In the end, Piao referred to the Nuremberg trials, at which time, Brodie shut down the exchange.

After the Second World War, Nazis were tried at the Nuremberg trials.

In her profile, on the city’s election page, Piao explains her civic engagement began during this council meeting about “voting accessibility challenges” and “the discovery of a closed-door meeting decision for public policy.”

In her profile, Piao said, she wants to seek the truth, preserve “moral family values” and have tax dollar accountability in council decision-making.

The Community Charter allows city councils to discuss issues like labour and employee relations, litigation, legal advice, as well as some land issues in closed-door meetings.

The vaccination mandate was lifted on April 8, about 10 days after Piao spoke to city council.

The municipal election will be held on Oct. 15.