Boys playing pool, circa late 1970s  |  George Le Masurier

The Week: Where did the Attorney General go; and, Trudeau’s middle ‘class’

Nov 22, 2019 | Commentary, News

By George Le Masurier

It appears that the BC Attorney General’s office may have changed its view of the Town of Comox’s desire to alter the Mack Laing Trust. How else to explain the last eight months of dead silence?

It’s been so long ago you may not remember that the town wants to tear down Laing’s historic home, called Shakesides, and spend the life savings that he gifted to the people of Comox on something other than what the trust agreement allows.

But in early May, the Attorney General surprised both the town and the Mack Laing Heritage Society by announcing a delay that they said could last about five months. The AG gave no reason for the delay. The town had hoped to go to trial during the court’s June sessions.

FURTHER READING: More about Hamilton Mack Laing and Shakesides

That five-month delay has now turned into eight months and counting. And the AG’s office still refuses to explain why or what it’s doing to bring the case to a resolution. Even town councillors have no idea what’s going on at the AG’s office.

Has the Attorney General reconsidered its support of the Town of Comox after taking the District of West Vancouver to court in July? The AG argued in that case that the municipality broke a similar agreement with two residents who had bequeathed their property.

Or, did the town’s failure to properly consult with the K’omoks First Nations set off alarms in the AG’s office?

Perhaps the Mack Laing Heritage Society’s comprehensive business plan that shows widespread community support for restoring Shakesides — more than two dozen individuals and construction companies have volunteered labor and materials — has caught the Attorney General’s attention.

Or maybe the AG’s office has finally realized how badly the town has handled Mack Laing’s generous gifts, especially the finances.

We can only hope one of these issues have given the Attorney General a crisis of conscience.

For nearly three years, a 5-2 majority of Comox councillors have been trying to ram their application through the BC Supreme Court. They spent the first two years, and three expensive Supreme Court hearings, attempting to block the Mack Laing Society from presenting evidence at trial.

Ex-mayor Paul Ives led this charge and current Mayor Russ Arnott has happily carried the torch. They have cost Comox taxpayers huge amounts of money trying to justify their actions.

Meanwhile, Shakesides sits in disrepair. But as Craig Freeman and the Merville Community Association have proved, it’s neither difficult nor expensive to preserve and rejuvenate a historic building, and give it a new life for public enjoyment.

The minority Liberal government announced a new cabinet post this week: Mona Fortier was appointed Minister of Middle-Class Prosperity and Associate Minister of Finance.

Does that term ‘middle-class’ bother anyone else? Don’t we really mean middle-income? Does Canada have a class system?

Giving middle income families the label of ‘middle-class’ suggests there is an upper class and a lower class.

I don’t know about you, but in my world, people who have higher incomes don’t necessarily warrant a ‘higher class’ status than anyone else. In some instances, I’d argue the opposite. Likewise, people who have had less financial success in their lives don’t warrant ‘lower class’ status.

I’m nitpicking, perhaps. But how we use language affects people and reveals a truth about how we see the world. Doesn’t assigning a ‘class’ to our income levels say something unfavorable about our sense of social justice and personal worth?


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