Quesnel mayor seeks B.C. Supreme Court review of his censure by council

The mayor of Quesnel, B.C., is seeking a judicial review of the city council’s decision to sanction him after controversy over a book that challenges several assertions about the harms of residential schools. 

On April 30, Quesnel council voted unanimously to censure Mayor Ron Paull, remove him from some committees and regional boards, and take away his travel and lobbying budgets.

The move followed reports that his wife had shared a book that challenges the harm of residential schools with community members, and allegations he had recommended it to other local elected officials. 

In a petition filed in B.C. Supreme Court on May 29, Paull argued the actions taken against him were “unreasonable” and the city had “breached its duty of procedural fairness” owed to him. He asked the court to order his reinstatement to all board and committee positions. 

“[The power to censure] is not a tool to be wielded for ‘cheap political gain,'” his petition reads.

The petition is the latest in a controversy that has put Quesnel — a community of around 23,000 people in B.C.’s Cariboo region — in the spotlight regarding residential schools and reconciliation. 

The controversy centred around a book of essays titled Grave Error: How the Media Misled Us (and the Truth about Residential Schools), whose authors claim that the media helped shape a false public narrative of what happened at the schools.


Contacted by phone by CBC News, Paull declined to comment on his petition because it is before the court.

Two city councillors and a city spokesperson also declined to comment.

Maynard Bara, band administrator with the Lhtako Dene First Nation — which banned the mayor from its territory In the wake of the allegations against Paull and his wife — said Sunday he wasn’t shocked by Paull’s petition and hopes it will be rejected. 

“The mayor still has not even apologized to any of the nations,” he said. “The whole way through this, he’s gone about everything the wrong way.”

In his petition, Paull argues the city council had breached its duty of fairness at the April 30 meeting as it “ambushed” him and “orchestrated a public hearing” into the allegations about him and his wife without providing notice.

He said this led to council passing a motion for staff to create a report for potential censure, which he said was not on the agenda for that meeting. 

The petition says the allegations that the mayor’s wife shared the book with someone, and the mayor later showed the book to two regional directors, are “not a rational or reasonable basis for censuring and sanctioning an elected member of city council.” 

“While local government councils have the power to adopt motions censuring and sanctioning members of council, they must act fairly when doing so,” the petition reads. 

Paull has denied the allegations against him, saying in early April he had simply brought up the book during a discussion of what books should or should not be available at a local library.

WATCH | Mayor plans to stay on after being censured: 

Quesnel city council censures mayor

1 month ago

Duration 2:13

Quesnel city council has voted unanimously to censure Mayor Ron Paull, claiming he damaged relations with First Nations. Paull’s wife distributed a book that local First Nations say minimizes the harms of residential schools.

Previously, there have been calls for Paull to resign as mayor — something he has declined to do. The Lhtako Dene, Nazko and Lhoosk’uz Dené First Nations have also said they will refuse to work with him

“We have a large Indigenous population that is hurting from the comments and the actions of him and his wife,” Bara said Sunday. “And the fact that the man cannot even say sorry, to me, that says it all. He’s not wanted here.”

WATCH | Lhtako elder addresses council: 

Residential school survivor calls for Quesnel mayor to resign

2 months ago

Duration 2:47

Lhtako Dene elder Bryant Paul, who attended St. Joseph Mission residential school, speaks to Quesnel city council on Apr. 2, 2024.

While some of the essays in Grave Error acknowledge that the residential school system caused abuse and harm to some children, others challenge the veracity of survivor’s accounts.

They also question the belief that the residential school system amounted to cultural genocide in its attempt to assimilate Indigenous people, as determined by the federally appointed Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

That commission heard testimony from more than 6,000 attendees of residential schools across the country, documenting stories of physical, sexual and psychological abuse, harsh punishments and malnourishment.

A national Indian Residential School Crisis Line is available to provide support for survivors and those affected. People can access emotional and crisis referral services by calling the 24-hour service at 1-866-925-4419.

Mental health counselling and crisis support are also available 24 hours a day, seven days a week through the Hope for Wellness hotline at 1-855-242-3310 or by online chat.


Posted in CBC