Routley apologizes for Chamber comments

Some strong comments in the Legislature last week landed Cowichan Valley MLA Bill Routley in hot water, eliciting an apology.

While making a speech on Oct. 9, he included comments about the need to educate and employ First Nations workers and then began talking about the Duncan-Cowichan Chamber of Commerce, challenging businesses to “step up to the plate” to help mentor this group of prospective workers.

It was then that he added other sharp remarks about the chamber and the group’s annual Black Tie celebration.

“They pony up to the plate with their Black Tie Awards. That’s fine. It’s wonderful. It’s good to have black-tie awards. I went and sat there, but I’ve got to tell you, I sure didn’t feel among my people sitting there with a bunch of snobs.”

Talk about Routley’s unusual outburst quickly spread with the result that the New Democratic Party issued the official apology from Routley the next day.

Chamber president Julie Scurr said the chamber puts on the Black Tie Awards to celebrate business successes and the crowd includes many of the friends and supporters of the nominees.

She said although Routley is invited as a matter of course to chamber events, he does not attend many.

The last time he showed up was to the opening of the new Info Centre. It’s been several years since he was at a Black Tie evening.

“We were shocked and disappointed,” she said. “We are, after all, his constituents.”

Routley’s apology said, “I talked about the activities of the Duncan Cowichan Chamber of Commerce in a way that I deeply regret and I apologize for. It does not reflect my views of the Chamber or its members. I know the Duncan Cowichan Chamber has worked tirelessly for over 100 years to create networks among business people locally and around the province to build the type of strong community that everyone in this area relies on.”

He sent a formal apology to the Chamber and said this week that he was glad it had been accepted.

“It was probably the worst thing I could have done. I’m extremely regretful that I made that mistake,” he said. The legislature doesn’t sit this week but as soon as it reconvenes, Routley has promised to make his apology in the House as well.

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