By Women on Wednesdays and Women Transforming Cities
Robert’s Rules of Order is the most widely used guideline for parliamentary procedure. It is the process by which bylaws and motions are made at the local government table. It determines how motions are introduced, the flow of meeting scripts and the order of discussion.
Robert’s Rules of Order also determines how decision-makers agree or disagree. Under the Rules, if a decision-maker remains silent, both during a discussion and a vote, it means they agree.
In the post-#MeToo era, we should all know that silence does not equal consent. It is disconcerting that our government’s tables—where crucial decisions are made about our communities and their inhabitants—are entirely out of step with cultural practices meant to protect women and other vulnerable people.
Equating silence with consent allows individuals to remain in power, despite accusations of physical and sexual assault, harassment, and discrimination.
No one has consented to Rob Vagramov returning to his duties as mayor of Port Moody. But the silence that echoes around his investigation of sexual assault disturbingly provides the impression that his constituents and fellow council members consent to his continued leadership.
With no process in place to remove him from his seat, no ethics commission to determine his fitness to serve, it is our duty as leaders, community members, and women at large, to stand together and tell him vocally and enthusiastically, that he is not welcome in his position of power.
Women should not have to sit beside men who have been accused of sexual assault and violence—especially Indigenous women, women of colour, and women with disabilities who are more likely to experience violence and discrimination.
It is imperative that our governmental processes be updated to be inclusive of today’s cultural mores, reflective of dissenting opinions and supportive of diverse voices, perspectives, and experiences.
For this, we need explicit action in the form of Rob Vagramov resigning as mayor of Port Moody and Premier John Horgan instituting an Independent Ethics Commission for Municipal Officials with the power to unseat elected officials.
To this, we enthusiastically consent.