Not invited: Township mayoralty challenger Alex Joehl and incumbent councillor Michelle Sparrow had some things to say about being left out of a Langley meet-and-greet for selected council candidates. File photo

By-invitation meet-and-greet for Township council candidates draws flak

Organizer rejects complaint it amounted to a slate, calls suggestion a ‘conspiracy theory.’

The organizer of a by-invitation meet-and-greet for selected Langley Township council candidates has rejected complaints from critics who said it amounted to a slate.

“There were several conspiracy theories put forward by a few people, which obviously had no basis in fact,” said Steve Schafer of the Canadian Foundation for Better Government (CF4BG), the group that organized two meetings with incumbents mayor Jack Froese, councillors Blair Whitmarsh and Angie Quaale, former Councillor Bev Dornan, and new candidates Margaret Kunst and Michael Pratt.

“As I pointed out at both events, there is no slate,” Schafer told the Times.

“Firstly, that would imply that I — or the Foundation — is running a campaign, which we’re not. Secondly, there wouldn’t even be a full complement if this was someone’s slate.

“Thirdly, the CF4BG does not endorse every policy of these candidates’ platforms nor do we expect that the individual candidates would endorse every aspect of the others’ platforms.”

Schafer said the candidates were selected for “their commitment to fiscal responsibility and doing the job of councillor, irrespective of their feelings towards any of their other duly elected colleagues.”

READ MORE: A by-invitation meet-and-greet for Langley Township candidates

Some of the candidates who were not invited took to social media to register their objections after the Times reported on the event.

“I am a candidate and it would have been nice to be included, but frankly what I take real exception to are the ‘criteria’,” said Gail Chaddock-Costello.

Chaddock-Costello said she has a track record of fiscal responsibility as president of the Langley Teachers’ Association and member of the BC Teachers’ Federation executive.

“Our budgets were balanced, we invested surpluses each year and only used ‘extra’ funds in bargaining years when expenses were greater than anticipated,” Chaddock-Costello said, adding “ethical, transparent advocacy and leadership is what I stand for, so I will simply assume those doing the invitations did not research my background very deeply or at all.”

“I have never heard of this group before,” said incumbent councillor Michelle Sparrow, “but I do find it interesting the ‘criteria’ they say they have used to pick their ‘favourites’.

“I’m proud of the work that I have done over the past seven years and of my own personal integrity,” Sparrow added, “I don’t need a foundation to assure me of that.”

“If I don’t meet the ‘criteria’ this group has set out to just be given the opportunity to share my thoughts about why I am running and what I stand for and to be given the chance to hear from those residents in attendance at this event, then it would seem I find myself at this time in the majority” Sparrow said.

“I’m not hurt that I wasn’t invited to speak,” said mayoralty candidate Alex Joehl, “what bothers me is the lack of transparency.”

He said the meetings amounted to the “launching of their voting slate.”

“Call it a silent-slate, call it a party, but what I do know is that Langley voters traditionally don’t like to see power amalgamated,” Joehl added.

Mayor Froese told the Times he received an invitation about a week before the event and decided to accept because he is open to speak at any candidates event organized by a legitimate group.

“If I can go, I go,” Froese said.

Schafer said the turnout for the two meetings “was a little softer than we would have liked,” but that may be the result of the short notice and “an issue with advertising on social media that we’ll be taking up with Facebook” where ads were targeted to the wrong communities.

The Canadian Foundation for Better Government was incorporated as a non-profit corporation in 2016 with three directors, Schafer, who is a Langley resident, Bert Chen, also of Langley, and Sacha Peter of Vancouver.

Schafer said there are five other people on a board of advisors.

In 2017, Schafer, who was president of the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) Cloverdale – Langley City Electoral District Association, helped to organize the only Conservative leadership debate in the Fraser Valley, held at the Darvonda greenhouse in Langley.

He said the foundation was not involved in that event.

Upcoming candidates forums:

Sept. 27, 7 p.m. at Langley Events Centre at 7888 200 St.

Hosted by the union representing Township of Langley Firefighters, International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Local 4550, to hear candidates views on public safety.

Oct. 2, 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at Cascades Casino Resort Ballroom at 20393 Fraser Hwy.

Hosted by the Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce to meet the City of Langley mayoral candidates.

Free for all guests to attend but an event registration is required by calling the Chamber office at 604-371-3370 or by visiting the Chamber website at

Oct. 4, 6:30 p.m. at the Fort Langley Community Hall.

Hosted by Fort Langley community members, in partnership with the Fort Langley Community Improvement Society.

The meeting will include both school trustee candidates and Township of Langley Council and Mayoral candidates.

Trustee candidates will be heard from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., followed by the Township of Langley council and mayoral candidates from 8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. followed by an opportunity to meet and mingle with all candidates in attendance from 9:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Oct. 10, 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Langley Seniors Centre, 20605 – 51B Ave.

Hosted by the Langley Seniors Community Action Table for City of Langley candidates who will be asked about affordable housing, poverty reduction, safety and security, transportation, social inclusion/quality of life and health care .

Oct. 11, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Shepherd of the Valley Church at 20097 72 Ave.

Hosted by the Willoughby Residents Association, which says while the focus will be on Willoughby, you do not have to be a resident to attend and everyone is encouraged to join us.

Oct. 12, 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Langley Seniors Centre, 20605 – 51B Ave.

Hosted by the Langley Seniors Community Action Table for Township of Langley candidates who will be asked about affordable housing, poverty reduction, safety and security, transportation, social inclusion/quality of life and health care .

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Gail Chaddock-Costello. File photo

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