Sylvia Slater, sister of recently deceased former B.C. Liberal MLA John Slater, sent out the following statement on behalf of the Slater family:
My name is Sylvia Slater and I, along with my family, are experiencing and bearing the realities associated with the loss of John Slater. To my family he was a brother, a father, an uncle, a nephew, and a son. To others, he was a friend and to many more he was a public figure and servant. But my question is, where is the line that deems one relationship more important than another and whose needs in a relationship should be first considered?
Within two hours of learning of his passing, I became aware that there was a plan by government to announce his death in the House. As we were in the early throes of our grief, we were very uncomfortable with this announcement and we had not yet confirmed that all our family members had been contacted. To be proactive, at 11:44 am I phoned the local MLA office of Linda Larson, the very position that my brother previously held, and asked that the government announcement not occur. It was not the wishes of the family and we asked that our privacy be respected. I was told by the person with whom I spoke that she would oblige my request. At the very least we expected that surely government itself would contact us to verify when they could make an announcement.
Heedlessly, however, at 1:32 pm, Ms. Clark made a statement in the House about John’s death and then released the statement to media across the province. John’s eldest daughter was first to become aware of the statement and to say she was upset would be an understatement.
I recognize that John had been a public figure and had dedicated decades of his life to serving his town, his valley, and his province, but was it too much to ask for our family’s request to be respected? Could you have given us 24 hours, 12 hours, 6 hours? Could you have contacted a family member directly? We live in a small town where everyone knows how to get in touch with us. It turns out that one retired Liberal MLA, through a friend of the family, attempted to ascertain the family wishes regarding the public announcement but didn’t bother to wait for the answer.
Why did this occur? Political gain? Through impersonal and public announcement, you were the one who decided when and how John Slater’s family and friends were notified of his untimely death. Shame on you Ms. Clark for again, not putting a ‘family first’.
On behalf of John’s family.