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Politicians claim Kelowna councillor’s column ‘promotes religion over inclusion’

“He is not being cancelled. He is being called out,” said Norah Bowman, professor of social issues
City councillor Ron Cannan at a Stand with Ukraine event on Oct. 14, in Kelowna. (Jordy Cunningham/Capital News)

UPDATE: 11:50 a.m.

The City of Kelowna released a statement Thursday morning regarding Councillor Ron Cannan’s recent column published to an online media, claiming the opinions of Cannan are his personal views and do not represent the views of Kelowna City Council.

“Members of council and the public have shared their concerns with me regarding Councillor Cannan’s viewpoints and we are disappointed that he has used his elected position as a City Councillor in this way. Many of the issues he has expressed opinions about are outside the jurisdiction of local government,” said Mayor Tom Dyas.

He added that he will continue to promote inclusivity and safety for all citizens.

Council recently approved a Code of Conduct governing the behaviour and expectations of council, to which Dyas said this matter will be given “due consideration. “



A Kelowna City Councillor’s recent opinion piece has caused a stir among elected officials and political experts across the province after he encouraged constituents to read the Bible.

Ron Cannan has had a 20-year career in politics in Kelowna as both a councillor and Member of Parliament.

The opinion piece titled ‘My predictions for Kelowna, BC and the world in 2024’, was published to the Now Media Group’s website on Jan. 2.

In the piece, Cannan shares his opinions on the wars in Ukraine and the Middle East, Trudeau, the federal, provincial and municipal budgets, sexual orientation and gender identity resources in schools and the “transgender movement,” Cannan ended his piece by encouraging people to read the Christian Bible.

The article has been circulated online prompting experts, community members and members of the public to speak out on platforms such as X (formerly Twitter).

Secularism in the Okanagan has recently been a hot button topic for politicians after an organization called the BC Humanist Association published a report naming the West Kelowna City Council as one of seven municipalities across the province that opened its 2022 inaugural council meeting with prayer.

READ MORE: Prayer at West Kelowna council violates Supreme Court ruling

In an interview with Capital News regarding Cannan’s opinion piece, Teale Phelps Bondaroff PhD, a research coordinator for the B.C. Humanists Association and City Councillor in Saanich explained that while it is considered unconstitutional and a violation of the government’s duty to practice religious neutrality to pray during a council meeting, individual representatives are free to express themselves and share their religious beliefs.

“It’s not illegal, it’s just not inclusive,” said Phelps Bondaroff.

Phelps Bondaroff said that while Cannan is entitled to share his opinion, the Kelowna politician seems to be using religion, “wedge issues,” and “divisive politics” to elicit an emotional response from his constituents.

“This reflects on Cannan and his priorities, which seem to be promoting his religion over inclusivity.”

Okanagan College professor of social issues and former Kelowna politician Norah Bowman, PhD, also spoke out and shared her disappointment after reading what she called, “mean and untruthful statements,” in Cannan’s piece.

Bowman specifically referenced Cannan’s opinions on the future of the war in Ukraine as being misleading.

In the article, Cannan stated that the public is no longer, “buying what the [Ukrainian] regime is selling.”

Bowman said that there is no factual basis to the claim that the public does not support Ukraine in its war against Russia or that the “regime” in Ukraine is bad.

Capital News reached out to Cannan for an interview. Instead he sent a written reply where he explained that he has had positive feedback from his column and he feels it was well received.

He also clarified his comments on the war in Ukraine, stating his mother is Ukrainian and he doesn’t support Putin.

“Just think people don’t agree that all the Ukrainian government is free of corruption. Hoping that a peace agreement can be reached for the sake of both countries and the world.”

Bowman went on to say that Cannan’s prediction that school boards will continue to face pushback regarding– what he called– the “SOGI (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity) policy and transgender movement” is not factual and perpetuates misinformation.

Speaking as a former school board trustee Bowman stated that the SOGI resources in schools are not a “policy,” and that there is no “transgender movement.”

“His column is not grounded in reality,” said Bowman. “It is not appropriate, professional or respectful of a diverse society.”

She said that based on the prediction piece Cannan is not fulfilling his responsibilities as a “secular leader in a pluralistic society.”

Mayor Tom Dyas is currently not in the city, however, the mayoral office is working to prepare a media statement regarding Cannan’s piece.

In a media statement, the City of Kelowna said that “elected officials are free to express their thoughts and opinions… The City of Kelowna is a secular institution that supports a multi-cultural, inclusive approach to governance.”

The city also stated that all Kelowna City Councillors must abide by a code of conduct but are free to share their thoughts, opinions and beliefs.

Capital News reached out to several local politicians for their thoughts on Cannan’s column, but have not received a response.

“He is not being cancelled. He is being called out,” reiterated Bowman.

Jacqueline Gelineau

About the Author: Jacqueline Gelineau

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