Abbotsford provincial election candidate Bruce Banman is apologizing for disparaging comments he made about drug users when he was mayor in 2012.
Banman, who is the Liberal candidate in the Abbotsford South riding, was quoted in a spring 2012 news article in relation to the city’s anti-harm-reduction policies:
“You are, if you are a drug user, a criminal. You’re not a helpless victim. You are, and choose to be, a criminal. It is an illegal activity that you are doing. If you are a pedophile, you are a criminal. And how we deal with criminals is we lock ‘em up.”
Banman released a statement Monday (Sept. 28) in response to those remarks.
“I made a mistake and regret those comments. I have learned much about treatment of addiction since then and fully support (B.C. Liberal Party leader) Andrew Wilkinson in dealing with this as a health issue and ensuring people have a path to recovery,” he said.
At the time of Banman’s comments in 2012, the city was – at the urging of Fraser Health – taking a second look at its 2005 harm-reduction bylaw, which banned services such as needle exchanges.
Abbotsford was the only city in the region at that time that had such a bylaw in place.
The matter was debated at public forums in early 2013, and a lawsuit was filed against the city later that year by members of the BC/Yukon Drug War Survivors, which aimed to repeal the bylaw.
The bylaw was then repealed in an unanimous decision by city council in early 2014.
Banman’s term as mayor, which ended in 2014 when he was defeated by Henry Braun, also faced controversy when chicken manure was dumped on a homeless camp on Gladys Avenue in June 2013.
Banman, who said he had no knowledge that the manure was going to be dumped, apologized two days later for the incident, sayings it was “a stain on Abbotsford’s good reputation.”