A Commentary by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper
Posted May 25th, 2021 on Niagara At Large
Like one of those holier than thou, evangelical preachers south of the border who’ve been caught doing something naughty West Lincoln Mayor and Niagara Regional Councillor David Bylsma took up some the first minutes of a Niagara Region council meeting this past May 20th, prostrating himself for his latest sin.
As you will see (if you care to open up a link to a video at the bottom of this commentary). Bylsma was allowed time the meeting to apologize to the people of the West Lincoln he represents as a mayor, to the people of Niagara he represents as a Regional Councillor, to members of the Council and not least of all, to a young citizen of Niagara who, in a recent Twitter message, Bylsma so thoughtlessly, and without invitation from her, asked a question about her menstrual cycle.
Through this pitiful spectacle of self-flogging, the beleaguered mayor characterized himself at one point as a “wayward child” who sent the tweet out to the young woman in a statue of “fatigue.”
The fatigue, he explained, may have been a function of all of the energy he had been pouring into his mayoral role in recent months, him feeling fatigue, ‘zealously’ and ‘passionately’ advocating “for small business, for mental health, for social health, … and opening churches and such.”
On the mental and social health fronts, one might argue that Mayor Bylsma has a lot more work to do in those areas.
As for using fatigue as an excuse for this latest in a growing series of behavior many view as inappropriate and even troubling for a municipal leader, a good number of us have been feeling fatigued lately, especially through this pandemic and all of the stress and lack of sleep it has caused.
I certainly have been feeling tapped out these days and so have many others I know. Yet, I am unaware of any of us taking to social media to ask a young woman we barely know about the status of her menstrual cycle, or her “period” as Bylsma chose to call it in his Twitter message.
Shortly after news of the Twitter message came out, Niagara Regional Chair Jim Bradley issued a statement admonishing Bylsma for his behavior and the West Lincoln Town Council called a special meeting last week where its members unanimously condemned their mayor’s conduct and removed him from serving on various other public bodies.
This is not the first time Bylsma has been publicly reprimanded for things he has said or done since first winning seats in 2018 as a Regional Councillor and West Lincoln mayor.
A year ago this spring, he was on a Niagara area radio station, making what many people felt were controversial and offensive remarks about Black Lives Matter and members of the LGBTQ community. It was an interview the radio station did with him after he led the charge against raising a Rainbow flag for the LGBTQ community at West Lincoln’s Town Hall for annual Pride Week.
For his intolerant and discriminatory remarks during the radio interview, he was slapped with a code of conduct violation by Niagara Region’s integrity commissioner and jettisoned from some of his posts as a Regional Councillor.
Before and after that episode, there were other oddball antics, but another real kicker came this past April when he performed as one of the cheerleaders at a large anti-lockdown rally in St. Catharines were he and most of the other participants flaunted mask wearing and social distancing.
Again Bylsma received reprimands from other municipal leaders across Niagara, including St. Catharines Mayor Walter Sendzik who issued a statement, scolding him for coming into his municipality and conducting himself in such a way during an ongoing Ontario government sanctioned stay-at-home order. Niagara Regional Police later charged him for allegedly violating provincial law.
There are just two points I want to make here.
First, we are all living through times in this Niagara Region where we have enough serious challenges on our plate. The pandemic has ravaged many of our local businesses and put many people out of work and desperately struggling to pay their bills and put food on their tables. We have public transit services that need to be regionalized, a climate plans and tree protection laws that need to be finalized, and an Official Plan in the works that will determine how our communities will grow in harmony with what is left of our wetlands, woodlands and other natural resources for decades to come.
The last thing we need is the kind of screwball behavior that characters like Bylsma seem to want to engage in serving as a distraction.
Second, Bylsma has his base of supporters, some who say he and others like him are being unfairly picked on, and that they have a “constitutional right” to go on a radio station or gather at a rally and express their views.
Bylsma, like the rest of us, has constitutional rights. But when you elected to be a public figure or a municipal leader, you also have a responsibility as a role model – especially during something like a major health emergency when the rest of us, for the sake of the common good, are making so many sacrifices to keep a killer virus from ravaging our lives even more.
Bylsma has proven more than once that he is incapable of living up to the responsibilities we need in a public leader.
And at a time when Niagara is faced with so many important issues and with possibly the worst health and economic crises in a hundred years, we deserve better leadership than whatever it is Bylsma has to offer.
It is time for this West Lincoln Mayor and Niagara Regional Councillor to do us all a favour and resign.
Doug Draper, Niagara At Large
To read a recent CBC story about David Bylsma’s antics, click on – https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/hamilton/bylsma-west-lincoln-vaccination-menstrual-cycle-comments-1.6032483
To read another piece posted in Niagara At Large on Bylsma’s controversial conduct, click on – https://niagaraatlarge.com/2020/06/15/what-is-west-lincoln-mayor-david-bylsma-thinking/ .
To watch a recent TV News Broadcast clip on Bylsma’s conduct, click on the screen immediately below –
To watch David Bylsma’s apology near the beginning of the May 20th, 2021 Niagara Regional Council meeting, click on the screen below and pull the red dot on the bar at the bottom, left-hand corner of the screen to 18:30, since the apology begins 18 minutes and 30 seconds into the meeting –
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