Port Coquitlam councillor Laura Dupont puts mayor and council on notice that she's prepared to file defamation suit

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      A politician in an outer suburb of Vancouver is gearing up to fight a motion by her colleagues to censure her for allegedly releasing confidential information.

      Port Coquitlam councillor Laura Dupont's lawyer has told the Tri-City News that she's suing the city for defamation in connection with two city news releases last month.

      After she was censured late last month, Dupont was removed from external boards and committees.

      To date, it's unclear what confidential information was allegedly released.

      Her lawyer, Sebastien Anderson, has reportedly sent a notice to the city demanding that she be reinstated to her former positions and be returned to the rotation to serve as acting mayor.

      CBC News reported this morning that the legal notice was sent to Mayor Brad West, with whom Dupont has clashed in the past over environmental issues.

      In addition to serving as mayor, West earns a six-figure salary as communications and political action coordinator with District 3 of the United Steelworkers union.

      The union supports the $9.3-billion Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

      Last November, Port Coquitlam council refused a request from the Force of Nature Alliance to pass a formal resolution to adopt the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's recommended greenhouse gas reduction targets.

      The Force of Nature Alliance was hoping that council would agree to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent below 2010 levels by 2030, 65 percent below by 2040, and 100 percent below by 2050.

      Port Coquitlam has also declined to pass a climate-emergency declaration, unlike many other municipal governments in the region.

      Meanwhile, Dupont has received considerable support from other politicians not on Port Coquitlam council.

      After she said she would continue to work constructively with her colleagues and serve the people of her city, Coquitlam councillor and former Port Moody–Coquitlam federal NDP candidate Bonita Zarrillo declared that she had no doubt of this.

      The former federal NDP candidate in Coquitlam–Port Coquitlam, Christina Gower, has launched an online petition to restore Dupont's position on Metro Vancouver's climate change action committee.

      It's attracted 1,141 signatures as of this writing.

      "Our governments need to be exceptionally transparent on the work they are doing to resolve Climate Crisis issues and there is no one more dedicated and less self serving than Councillor Laura Dupont," the petition states.

      New Westminster councillors Nadine Nakagawa and Mary Trentadue, and Vancouver councillors Adriane Carr and Christine Boyle have also expressed support for Dupont.

      Mayor West has been a polarizing figure in the region.

      His union was the largest donor to the B.C. NDP in the last provincial election and West was previously a constituency aide to Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth.

      Yet some of Dupont's vocal supporters also have been supported by high-profile New Democrats and endorsed by alliances of labour unions. Dupont's lawyer, Anderson, is a founder of Labour Rights Law.

      Both West and Dupont were endorsed in the 2018 election by the New Westminster and District Labour Council.

      Meanwhile, West has attracted tremendous approval over social media for his frequent criticisms of China's dismal human-rights record.

      But his overwhelming focus on China—rather than on any other international human-rights issues—has also elicited criticism from a much smaller number of people, including a donor to the B.C. NDP and a former federal NDP candidate, who feel that his populism is fuelling mistrust of immigrants from China.

      In addition, West has been criticized for making unproven claims linking Chinese people to housing unaffordability in the region through their alleged criminal behavour.

      This week, West issued a statement on his Facebook page expressing support for pluralism.

      "City Hall will go dark tonight as we continue to take a stand against racism and celebrate the great diversity that makes Port Coquitlam stronger," West stated. "Discrimination and hate have no place in Port Coquitlam. Support is available through our local victim services organizations at VictimLinkBC."