OSOYOOS, B.C. - The family of a one-time British Columbia Liberal is angry with Premier Christy Clark, stating they specifically requested his death not be announced in the legislature.
John Slater, 63, died unexpectedly last week and his passing was acknowledged by the premier who praised his community involvement and commitment to local farmers. A copy of her statement was later distributed to the media.
Sylvia Slater, John's sister, posted a letter on Facebook where she said her family specifically asked that an announcement not be made.
According to Sylvia, within two hours of her brother's death she had heard rumours of the planned announcement.
According to her cell phone records, she phoned the office of Boundary Similkameen MLA Linda Larson at 11:44 a.m. requesting that her family's privacy be respected.
"Heedlessly at 1:32 p.m., Ms. Clark made a statement in the House about John's death," Sylvia wrote. "Could you have given us 24 hours, 12 hours, six hours? Could you have contacted a family member directly?"
In an interview, Slater said the family should have been contacted as to if and when a statement could be made. She said fortunately all family members learned of John's death prior to reading it in the media.
"He was a brother, father, uncle, nephew and son. To others, he was a friend and to many more he was a public figure and servant. My question is, where is the line that deems one relationship more important than another and whose needs in a relationship should be first considered?"
She acknowledged that her brother was a public figure but noted he had been out of office since 2012.
"Shame on you Ms. Clark for again, not putting a family first," she wrote.
Born in Kelowna, John Slater moved to Osoyoos in 1980 where he operated several businesses including Desert Edge Nursery. Slater served on Osoyoos Town Council for 18 years including six years as mayor.
He retired as mayor to seek the B.C. Liberal nomination and was elected as Boundary Similkameen's representative in 2009, serving one term. He was not endorsed by the party for the 2013 election and dropped out of public life.
Slater is survived by his daughters Tina and Alana and siblings Sylvia, Laura and Kim as well as several nieces and nephews. Predeceased are his son Christopher and his parents.
Sylvia said funeral arrangements will be finalized on Tuesday. (Penticton Herald)
Here's the full text of Christy Clark's May 13, 2015 press release statement:
"I am deeply saddened to hear John Slater has passed away. John was a caucus colleague and a friend.
"John Slater was passionate about his home, and the people who make Osoyoos special. That passion led to 30 years of dedicated service to the community he loved.
"John lent his time to everything from coaching youth sports and volunteering with the chamber of commerce, to standing for public office - first as a councillor, then mayor, and finally as MLA.
"But no matter what his official title was, John always thought of himself first and foremost as a farmer.
"John took on the challenge of laying the groundwork to modernize century-old legislation to protect B.C.'s fresh water. He was very proud of the Water Sustainability Act - and for good reason.
"Throughout Boundary-Similkameen, you can find more of the fruits of John's hard work, including the new high school in Oliver, the new Horizon Health Centre in Osoyoos, the expanded Midway Arena, and new highway improvements and public walkways.
"Like everyone who knew him, I will always remember John's quick smile, good humour, and infectious laugh.
"My thoughts and prayers are with his friends and family."
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