More on political spat

Re Alli MacNeil and John Weisbeck’s letter Kelowna political spat (Castanet, Oct. 4)

By now, many people are well aware of the incident that occurred at (Kelowna) Mayor Colin Basran's (re-election campaign) announcement at Red Bird Brewing on Sept. 8, 2022 between (councillor candidate) Ron Cannan and Basran.

I want to first state I have been a friend and supporter of (both) Basran and Cannan and my political position is that of a centrist who believes no one party or candidate has all the right answers. That is why it is imperative political leaders and candidates must find common ground, communicate respectfully and collaborate for the betterment of the (residents) that they represent.

I appreciate Alli MacNeill and John Weisbeck's attempt to bring clarity to the events that unfolded at Red Bird on Sept. 8 through their letter on Oct. 4. There are many pieces that I can corroborate, as I witnessed certain events as described. However, there are pieces of the events that unfolded which I presume Alli was not aware of, which led her to certain conclusions that were not what I witnessed.

The piece that I feel is missing, and that I have to contribute, is to clarify some of the statements that were made, specifically concerning the following:

Allie writes that, "I realized Cannan had never left. In fact, at that point, he decided to force his way through the entrance, pushing his bike through fellow volunteer Beryl Itani, who was also checking people’s tickets at the door. Ron was aware of the invite-only aspect of the event, but he still chose to force his way in past this long-time retired community volunteer."

It has been stated in several articles and letters that Ron was not invited to the event, that he did not have a ticket, and that he pushed his way into the event. This is simply not true.

I was invited by Colin himself to attend the event. As per instructions, I registered for the event on Eventbrite and was given the option to register for two tickets which I did. I offered my extra ticket to a colleague, who on the day of the event, notified me that he would be unable to attend.

When I arrived at the event early, so that I could get a decent seat, I saw Ron outside who relayed to me he had just been informed that a ticket he had been offered by Allie McNeill was no longer available because, as a volunteer, she did not have a ticket to offer him and that the event was sold out.

As a friend of Ron's with an extra ticket to the event, I offered my extra ticket to him, which he accepted. Unbeknownst to me—and presumably to Allie—prior history between Ron and Colin had left things on bad terms. However, to my knowledge, Ron was not told he was not welcome until after we was let in and he was locking his bike up at the bike lock inside the gate at the venue.

When Ron and I went to the registration area, I showed my 2 tickets to the volunteers and we were let into the event. In regards to the assertion that Ron "decided to force his way through the entrance, pushing his bike through fellow volunteer Beryl Itani, who was also checking people’s tickets at the door," that is not what I witnessed.

I recognized Beryl, whom I have a great deal of respect for, and I talked with her while showing my ticket at the registration. In no way did I witness Ron force his way through registration. That is something I would simply not have been party to as I have respect for the registration volunteers, for Colin, for his event and would never barge into an event.

Once inside, (Basran’s camapign manager) Wayne Pierce met Ron at the bike stand and proceeded to question him for being there. I and others watched the exchange as Wayne told Ron was not welcome and I saw Ron politely and civilly ask questions to understand why he was not welcome.

In the course of the discussion, Wayne alluded to incidents that happened in the past between Ron and Colin. I was taken aback because I was unaware of any negative history. After some discussion, which was civil on both sides, Ron was asked to leave.

I am not aware how long it took Ron to leave, nor was I present for the exchange between Colin and Ron (frankly, I was more interested in Red Bird's beers on tap). However, I do know Ron left of his own accord. I am not here to make statements or question Ron's intention for attending, but what he did communicate multiple times was that if he and Colin were both elected they would have to work together.

To assume ulterior motives is not my place and I have learnt to believe the best in people until trust is broken. So, I cannot question Ron's motives as only he knows his own intentions.

I can, however, restate what I was party to and what I saw at the event. I have no ulterior motive other than to relay what I saw and to provide a piece of the puzzle in terms of the course of events to ensure that as much of the truth is brought forward.

But while I am writing, I strongly implore candidates running for office, elected officials, and those who engage in political discourse to keep their comments and opinions positive and look for every effort to communicate civilly, to seek to understand above being understood, to allow room so that no single person holds the ultimate truth and to keep the issues as the focus of our collaborative attention.

Josh Byron

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The opinions expressed here are strictly those of the author. Castanet does not in any way warrant the information presented.

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