EX-MAYOR ROBERTS MAKES STATEMENT. –
Urged by the press to comment on the extraordinary situation prevailing in Cranbrook civic affairs since resignation of mayor and three aldermen last week left the city without a machine for administering affairs, ex-mayor Roberts, though steadily refusing to enter into controversy over his resignation, has consented to make a statement throwing light on the preliminaries to the dramatic denouement of Friday.
Could you let the public know how the idea originated, Mr. Roberts was asked.
The idea originated, he stated, when on November eleventh the Cranbrook police commissioners received a letter from attorney-general Pooley stating that the department had knowledge that conditions in Cranbrook were not satisfactory and that a change in the police force was necessary, and further that unless matters were improved the provincial police would take charge in Cranbrook and charge the city with the expense. This letter was brought to the attention of the police commissioners and the city clerk replied on November twenty-first.
On November twenty-eighth the attorney-general again wrote acknowledging the city clerk’s letter and again emphasizing that conditions were not as they should be. He stated his information had been checked up and that there could be no doubt as to its correctness.
Recalling, Mr. Roberts continued, the expense incurred by the last provincial police raiding of city in 1924 and noting the emphasis placed on the matter by the attorney-general I became alarmed at the financial aspect of his suggestion. On December eighth I addressed a personal letter to him in which I stated that I was rather surprised to hear that conditions were as stated by him and that if his information was correct there was only one or two things to be done: first that he carry out his threat to send men in; second that the matter of the province taking over the policing of the city be taken under advisement.
About a week later Inspector Cruickshanks arrived in the city with instructions to discuss the matter and he briefly gave me, Mr. Roberts went on, an outline of the proposed scheme, special attention being given, in the interview, to financial matters chiefly from which standpoint the tentative offer was exceedingly attractive. My reason for not following the matter up at the moment was my uncertainty about letting my name stand for another term as mayor.
Mr. Roberts was then asked whether he had heard it said that the matter had been sprung on the council by him without sufficient time allowed for them to properly consider the question.
He said that he had heard that but that it was an undeniable fact that on or before nomination day Commissioner Shankland and members of the council with possibly one exception knew of the scheme and that he was favorably disposed toward it and that practically all members and Commissioner Shankland had seen the contract eight hours before it was presented to the council and at that meeting a resolution approving the scheme was unanimously accepted by them.
What of the opinion held in some quarters that a plebiscite should have been submitted to the people, was then asked.
I cannot, Mr. Roberts replied, for a moment accept the principle that matters involving the internal management of civic administration should be referred by a referendum to ratepayers. Once that principle is accepted the whole structure of civic administration falls to pieces. The legislature, in passing the act, clearly and concisely puts the responsibility up to the municipal council and I accept such responsibility.
Have you any comment to make on the petition to rescind the motion presented by Commissioner Shankland at Friday’s meeting, was asked.
None, except to say that it has come to my knowledge, directly and indirectly, that many signed the petition under a misapprehension as to its intent.
When asked what he considered the best way out of the city’s present tangle, ex-mayor Roberts said that he preferred to make no statement.