A town councilor in Fort Macleod, Alta. he has been publicly reprimanded by the mayor for taking a leadership role in the Coutts border blockade.
In a public reprimand letter posted on the town website, Major Brent Feyter said Coun. Marco van Huigenbos was “elected to a position of public trust and as such have a duty to act in good faith and in the best interests of the Town of Fort Macleod at all times.”
The letter states Huigenbos’ actions went in direct violation of his obligations.
“Provincial and even national media reports quote you as being ‘one of the organizers’ and ‘a spokesperson’ of the Coutts border blockade and identify you as being a ‘town councilor in Fort Macleod,'” the letter reads.
“Your admitted, and very public, involvement with the Coutts border blockade is in direct violation of your obligations under the Council Code of Conduct Bylaw.”
While many people in Fort Macleod — about 173 kilometers south of Calgary — spoke out against Huigenbos’s actions, some also supported his leadership role.
Feyter says it’s important to have an open dialogue about both sides of the issue, as everyone believes they are doing what’s right.
“I would hope that our leaders take note, because people do want what’s right for our country in general, right?” said Feyter. “So who defines what that is becomes a challenge.”
The Coutts blockade was one of several demonstrations in Canadian cities and border points against vaccine mandates and broader COVID-19 restrictions that stalled trade, stranded travellers, and disrupted lives of area residents.
Feyter says the issue surrounding the Coutts blockade has been divisive and polarizing, but it’s important to create unity again.
He says this responsibility falls on leaders across the country.
“I think in general it’s what leadership is going to do across this country in helping bridge the gap and communicate the message that we are all valued and all appreciated and all able to do business in our country,” he said.
While Feyter wants leaders to bridge the gap, he said there are many ignoring the opinions of blockade supporters.
“I find many leadership positions in general are avoiding the voices of people that are concerned,” said Feyter.
“I don’t remember the last time we had this volume of people that have shown up for different events because they’re passionate about unity in our country.”
Ultimately, Feyter believes the way to work through these issues is an open, honest dialogue.
“I think it’s good that we face our issues, have some good open dialogue and get better together,” he said. “There is definitely a path forward.”