Regina mayor calls for respect after harassment, threats sent to councillors over fossil fuel motion

·2 min read

Regina's mayor is calling for respect after threats of violence and harassment were sent to some councillors following a proposed fossil fuel sponsorship and advertising prohibition.

Regina's executive committee approved a motion to restrict fossil fuel producers and sellers from sponsoring city events or advertising on city property on Jan. 20. One week later, on Jan 27, it was unanimously withdrawn at city council.

During the week in between the approval and withdrawal, councillors received a lot of feedback through emails, phone calls and on social media.

Coun. Dan LeBlanc — who first proposed the motion — said one of the reasons he was in favour of withdrawing it was the threats. LeBlanc said on Monday, he and other councillors had received messages threatening physical harm.

"Frankly my view is it ought to take a lot for councillors to be risking physical violence to their families to continue with sustainability motions," he said on Jan. 25. "I'm not interested in folks getting hurt because of that."

Matt Duguid/CBC
Matt Duguid/CBC

After the city council meeting on Wednesday, Masters said those threats and messages are "absolutely unacceptable."

"Threats of violence or harassment should never be tolerated by anyone, and especially not of elected officials or people who are essentially, in some respects, public servants," Masters said.

"[The councillors] listened to the citizens and they weighed that in their determination of how they were going to vote today, which really is the process we're all working towards to protect," she said. "Harassment has no place in that."

Premier Scott Moe was one of the first to weigh in on the debate on social media. Masters said his tweet elevated the conversation past the council floor and she believes none of the councillors who voted in favour of the motion saw what would happen next.

"People cross the line when it comes to when it comes to something they feel passionate about," Masters said.

"And we have a small, very small element of individuals who feel that threatening someone's personal safety is perhaps, you know, in line with their rights relative to elected officials. And it's not relative to anyone."

Masters said discussions at city council and from delegations were respectful and she encourages that respectful dialogue in the future. She said councillors listened to their citizens and withdrew the motion.

Masters said council does still have a shared vision about being renewable that they're going to work toward in the future.