This past Sunday afternoon, I met Jeff Vircoe during my door to door campaign. We shook hands and soon we engaged in a conversation, touching on a variety of personal issues, from family to private struggles we individually endured. It didn’t take long before the conversation centered around my foolish denial of using assumed writer’s names and the ensuing recall process.
I most assuredly did apologize for all the consequences of those actions in the legislature and subsequently resigned.
I have no qualms apologizing again, as done before, to all those who I disappointed, let down and those involved in the recall campaign. I hope it provides the closure needed, even after 13 years, for some.
The most moving example of forgiveness was given to me last week when a woman compared it with “the fragrance of the violet on the heel of the boot that crushed it.”
Not once did this episode ever effect any decision-making on council whilst mayor from 1987-1996.
Mr. Vircoe seemed somewhat surprised I had been quietly helping people for the last five years with their concerns/frustrations, assisted with pension applications, settled a case in which an elderly gentleman was badly injured due to poor visibility at the post office and others. I sought no publicity. I shared with him that, should I not be elected, I would offer my experience to council, if asked.
As mentioned in the past, I wasn’t raised that way, didn’t raise my children this way and it ultimately changed my life for the better in a very humbling way, vowing it would never happen again. One only continues to beat oneself up for so long before accepting, dealing with it, learning from it and moving on.
I also mentioned that when I was elected MLA and stayed on as mayor for some seven months, I returned the mayor’s salary (approx. $7,000) as I didn’t want to double dip. If I would have known/been told the MLA’s B.C. Ferries Pass did not include meals, I would of course never have charged meals.
Not only did I refund those funds but also made a donation in the same amount.
We shook hands again as we parted. He didn’t need to see I bit my lip when he generously wished me “good luck” with my campaign.
Paul Reitsma is a City of
Parksville mayoral candidate.