Mud-slinging is ramping up in White Rock, as election day draws closer, with the city’s two mayoral candidates each calling the other out on past and current behaviour.
Following comments emailed by incumbent Wayne Baldwin to supporters after a televised CBC News item Nov. 4, challenger David Bradshaw has called the email “disgusting,” asking White Rock’s chief election officer, Tracey Arthur, to intervene.
Baldwin’s email, drawing attention to his website, followed CBC’s report of a wrongful dismissal grievance filed by Bradshaw against the BC Teachers’ Federation.
“CBC TV just tonight did a news item on my opponent David Bradshaw, that just makes you wonder ‘what was he thinking?’ when he submitted his nomination papers for the Mayor’s position,” Baldwin’s email to unidentified supporters states.
“This man is not capable or fit to be in public office. This news article provides a lot of insight into his ‘missing years’ because he does not talk about his most recent employment at the BCTF in any of his campaign material – now you see why.”
Baldwin encouraged recipients to forward his email “on to as many as you can.”
On Friday, Bradshaw emailed Arthur, who is also White Rock’s city clerk.
“In your capacity as Chief Elections Officer, I am requesting that you bring the disgusting behavior of Wayne Baldwin to the Elections BC. Enclosed is just one example of this man’s unacceptable behavior, which is libelous,” Bradshaw writes.
“Previously you sent out information to all candidates advising that a previous Councillor was removed from office for objectionable conduct. I believe this same result should be applied in this matter.”
Bradshaw’s comment references the court decision that overturned the 2008 election of veteran White Rock councillor James Coleridge. In that case, the court found that Coleridge had used deception to further his own political ends when he lied about his knowledge of the source of a pre-election email that he and his wife penned under false identities – lies he kept up until the petition calling for his removal was filed.
Baldwin on Monday disagreed his comments were libelous of Bradshaw.
“Libel is something where you say something that is untrue,” he told Peace Arch News. “It’s not untrue. If he’s concerned about that, that’s an issue he has.”
He noted he received a copy of the arbitration document anonymously two weeks prior to the CBC report, but did nothing more than discuss it with his family.
“But I do think that people should be aware of it. They’re certainly aware of my background.”
Baldwin first commented on the CBC report on his website blog, shortly after the newscast aired. He included a link to the story, which included the arbitration document, which was concluded Sept. 23.
Among other things, the public 46-page document outlines allegations that Bradshaw, in May 2012, “made statements… to the effect that he was thinking of ‘going postal’” at his workplace. As well, that he had made “derogatory and obscene comments” about the BCTF’s director of human resources.
After considering evidence that included submissions Bradshaw was “not in any mental shape to be at work” at the time the statements were made, the arbitrator found his termination was justified “on a non-culpable basis.”
“In my view, the griever’s inappropriate comments… were just another example of his inability to work cooperatively and constructively with his fellow employees and supervisors, which, in my view, was a direct result of his depression and anxiety disorders,” writes arbitrator John Kinzie in the report.
Bradshaw – who maintains that he was the victim of a single false allegation, and that neither the mediator nor his own union understood the “legal complexities of the situation” – was reinstated to his position with the BCTF for the sole purpose of having his ongoing claim for sick leave and long-term benefits processed and adjudicated.
Baldwin’s Nov. 4 email also questions those who signed Bradshaw’s nominations papers – including two candidates, one of them an incumbent.
“I think you also have to look at all those candidates for office who backed him, or, as in the case of (incumbent) Helen Fathers, and Dennis Lypka, actually signed his nomination papers! What the heck were they thinking? Is that the kind of thoughtful decision making we can expect from them?”
Baldwin’s online post – under the heading “some interesting and alarming revelations” – also referenced a 2003 altercation in city hall, when he was city manager, in which one councillor was charged with striking another with a pen.
“I hope we are not going to see a repeat of the Margaret Woods and her pen issue that made us a National laughing stock a few years ago.”
The charge was later stayed. Woods and then-councillor Cliff Annable, the other party in the highly publicized incident, are both running for council seats Nov. 15.
Baldwin’s web post was modified Wednesday morning to remove the pen-incident reference. It was replaced entirely on Thursday afternoon, with a post describing his earlier comments as a result of “a moment of anger and outrage.”
“That was a mistake and I should not have gone there,” Baldwin writes. “I am running my campaign and he is running his. I have no wish to get down in the mud and throw it around. When you do that you only succeed in getting your own hands dirty.”
In an email to PAN, Fathers describes Baldwin’s email as “further smearing” and said his web post about not wanting to get his hands dirty is “an absolute joke.”
“As we know… from past election issues as candidates we have to be careful not to partake in ‘unfair representation of others whilst trying to influence and coerce voters’ this is part of the reason James Coleridge was removed from office,” she writes.
Fathers adds she will decide after the election if the issue warrants formal proceedings.
Baldwin disagreed that the comments were smearing.
“I don’t know if it’s smearing or just spreading the truth,” he said.
Baldwin noted that Bradshaw “is not without fault” in the fact the mayors’ race has turned ugly.
“Mr. Bradshaw was slandering me before he even got this thing going… saying untruths about things I approved,” Baldwin said.
“The door swings both ways. I wouldn’t have said anything if it hadn’t gone through the CBC first.”
Arthur said by email Sunday that Bradshaw’s complaint is the only one she has received regarding a mayoral candidate. As candidate conduct is not within her mandate as chief election officer, she referred Bradshaw to Elections BC.
However, Elections BC spokesman Don Main told PAN the organization only deals with issues around election advertising and campaign finances.
According to information on the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development’s website, allegations of election offences should be reported to police.