Port Moody council was about three hours and 45 minutes into Tuesday’s meeting. It was late, but not too late for conflict.
With the clock winding down, Coun. Hunter Madsen focused his remarks on Coun. Zoe Royer and what he described as her: “defamatory zingers.”
From there, Madsen’s monologue veered from Royer’s attack on his professional integrity to charges about her own.
“Personally I like Zoe, [and] have considered her a friend,” Madsen said.
Where did the love go . . . and what was left after it was gone?
While stipulating he couldn’t be certain, Madsen suggested “all the love stopped” after he voiced concern about what he called Royer’s, “serious breach of professional ethics.”
While explaining she couldn’t offer details on closed-door meetings, Royer wrote an email to the Dispatch stating Madsen’s allegations have already been: “rejected by council.”
Madsen had described Royer setting up meetings in city hall related to a lawsuit connected to a company that, in turn, was a client of a firm co-owned by Royer.
The issue, Royer explained, revolved around enhancing a creek and saving taxpayer dollars. And while there was a conflict of interest, Royer stated that she thought there was a procedure to speak to council anyway.
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It turned out there wasn’t.
“I did not know this when I spoke to the mayor,” she wrote. “[The mayor] asked me to explain the issue and convince him that it was worth putting on the agenda. My error in judgment was to answer his questions, and for that I am sorry.”
Royer has since written a report to council to clarify the procedure in the future, she added.
The springtime of our discontent
The first outward signs of conflict between Madsen and Royer seemed to emerge after Madsen completed a 20-minute presentation on the possible “Metrotown-ification” of Port Moody to his colleagues during an April 13 meeting.
Without proper guidance, Port Moody could become a: “swarming, unpleasant, horn-honking mess,” according to Madsen’s report.
Amid several reminders from the mayor to stay on topic, Royer responded to Madsen’s presentation with her own speech that took on topics ranging urban sprawl to Greta Thunberg to farmers in India.
Madsen later charged Royer with attempting to: “run out the clock with a filibuster.”
During the exchange, Royer mentioned Madsen’s prior work as a writer.
In 1989, Madsen was the co-author of non-fiction book After the Ball – How America Will Conquer Its Fear & Hatred of Gays in the 90s.
While Royer primarily focused on the report’s abundant adjectives and the fact that Madsen’s report roughly resembled an official city document, she also alluded to Madsen’s previous efforts to alter people’s beliefs, “without facts, logic or proof.”
“We do have to be mindful of propaganda,” Royer said. “I’ve been in Russia and I’ve very much seen examples of propaganda.”
In his response on April 27, Madsen said Royer had characterized him as a: “lying, amoral propagandist.”
Madsen then defended his book at some length, noting Jackie Kennedy Onassis was a senior editor at his publisher. He also cited numerous newspaper and magazine articles about the book.
Publishers Weekly described the non-fiction book as outlining: “a massive media campaign designed to correct stereotypes and neutralize anti-gay prejudice.”
The professional relationship also seemed soured by Madsen’s sense that Royer had, without naming him personally, castigated him in a Facebook post regarding sexism and misogyny in council chambers.
Madsen suggested he was swept up in a “vaguely-worded indictment.”
“The voices of women, and men who are allies of women, speaking in unison and bringing the injustices out from the shadows into the light . . . is our only hope of ever putting an end to it,” Royer wrote in the post.
The notion that gay men dislike women plays into a “longstanding bigoted stereotype against LGBQ people, such as myself,” Madsen responded.
By the time Madsen had finished making his statement, the clock had nearly run out on the April 27 meeting.
After another councillor made a motion to extend the meeting another 10 minutes, Madsen voted to adjourn, bringing the meeting to a close and leaving his colleagues looking visibly frustrated.
“Tuesday night was the first-ever occasion on which I unilaterally called a stop,” he acknowledged in an email to the Dispatch.
Council had already completed their agenda and “I felt too upset to continue,” Madsen wrote, adding that he feared a longer meeting could mean escalating conflict.
Despite the tense atmosphere at the close of Tuesday’s meeting, both councillors pledged to cooperate in the future.
“I am certainly looking forward to putting all of this tit-for-tat infighting behind us,” Madsen wrote.
Royer echoed the sentiment.
“I think it’s an imperative for good leaders to bring civility to the decision-making table, no matter what anyone says or does,” she wrote. “We must find solutions together; our community depends on us to do so.”