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LETTER: Banff councillor should get due process before being judged

LETTER: Now is not the time to reduce the number of councillors needed to provide guidance.


The Outlook ran a front page headline in its March 14 edition, “Banff councillor facing sexual assault charges”. The opening line of the story reads “Banff town councillor Hugh Pettigrew has been charged with sexual assault.”

At the first hearing on March 13, the judge ordered a publication ban on any evidence that could identify the complainant. 

This same right was not offered to the accused.

The basis of our legal system suggests that a person is innocent until proven guilty. Our mayor is quoted as saying “…I must emphasize we will respect the judicial system and its fair and authoritative process to reach a judgement”.

Officials from the Alberta Ministry of Municipal Affairs said: “that being charged with a crime is not grounds for a councillor to be disqualified under the Municipal Government Act (MGA), nor does the MGA require councillors charged with a crime to step down or disclose to council whether they’ve been charged.” 

Later in the article, we are told “sexual assault includes forced unwanted kissing, touching, vaginal penetration, anal penetration and oral sex”.

Which one should we presume Hugh is guilty of? This is tabloid material, full of innuendo and inflammatory.

In the meantime, the Pettigrew family name is being dragged through the mud. They have served the town of Banff significantly for many years. No one deserves to be treated like this.

And then it gets even worse.

In the March 21 edition, the Outlook reports that 80 persons – some highly respected – have signed a letter to Hugh suggesting he take a leave of absence, that his presence may be disturbing to some until the matter is resolved.

This self-appointed vigilante committee has forgotten that hundreds of Banff citizens voted for Hugh to represent them on council. 

I think council is overworked, stressed, overwhelmed with responsibility; dealing with the railway lands area redevelopment plan, which Parks Canada has declined numerous times, a petition to cancel the COVID-19 initiated pedestrian zone on Banff Avenue, revision to the development guidelines for residential parking requirements, construction of a bus lane to service four operations that do not pay taxes to the Town, overcrowding from rampant tourism and many other time-consuming matters.

Now is not the time to reduce the number of councillors needed to provide guidance.

Rick Kunelius,


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