UNFRIENDED: Race for Kelowna mayor gets personal - InfoNews

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UNFRIENDED: Race for Kelowna mayor gets personal

Tom Dyas, left, and Colin Basran pose together as part of a Memorial Cup bid committee for the Kelowna Rockets, taken in May. Since then, the two men who once called each other friends and worked on several initiatives together, won't be seen in too many more photos.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Kelowna Rockets
September 20, 2018 - 12:02 PM

KELOWNA - When Tom Dyas announced he was running against his friend and Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran in the Oct. 20 municipal election, much was made of their close friendship.

“We’re not Facebook friends any more,” Dyas told iNFOnews.ca. “He deleted me from Facebook and took away any pictures that I was in.”

Basran confirmed the deletion. Asked if he felt blindsided by Dyas’ actions he replied: “Blindsided? Absolutely, that would be a good word to describe what happened.”

They first became friends on a trip to Japan where Dyas represented the Chamber of Commerce (for which he sat as president for two years up to last spring) and Basran represented the city as Mayor. Later, they vacationed together in Maui and New York City.

Asked if they were still friends, Basran simply said: “We‘re two people running for the mayor’s chair in the City of Kelowna.”

Dyas says it wasn't always this way. Before the race began, Dyas says Basran looked to him almost as an adviser. 

“There was also an element of a mentorship that was there,” Dyas said. “I’m a little older, I’ve seen a little bit more, so there was an element of a request of a mentorship that kind of fell into place.”

That sparked a chuckle from the Mayor.

“Are you serious?” he asked. “Tom was no mentor to me. Tom was a friend.”

The disagreements don’t end there. Dyas hinted that Basran was less than honest with him.

“In dealing with all of the issues within our community for the last two years, the understanding was that, especially when there is a friendship involved, the communication you were receiving back... was always 100 per cent sincere and correct,” Dyas said. “Things had happened that, possibly, fell outside of that.”

“I’m totally stunned,” Basran said when told of Dyas’ comments. “I’m not surprised that he would try to attack my character for political gain. I think it’s proving out he’s a person who will say anything to get votes.”

Dyas’s campaign slogan is "We can do better". At his campaign launch on Sept. 12, he pointed to a lack of strong leadership at City Hall. 

iNFOnews.ca asked Dyas about the suggestion that it’s city staff, not the Mayor, setting the direction for the city.

“What you just said is a comment that I’ve heard and that many individuals within our community have heard,” Dyas said.

Basran objected to that portrayal and said he’s voted against staff at times.

“This assumption that somehow staff steers the ship, I think, is completely false,” Basran said. “It is our job to challenge staff. What staff is bringing forward is the vision of council so council sets the direction and vision of the community and staff is then bringing that forward."

Both candidates were asked to define leadership.

“Leadership is a number of things,” Basran said. “It’s making decisions that are in the best interest of the community as a whole, even if that means upsetting people - even friends or people you know.

“There's leading by example and leading in terms of initiatives or things you’d like to see move forward. Leadership also means being a good teammate, being protective and supportive of your teammates so that would mean Council and the staff that works there.”

He stressed that everyone on council contributes good ideas so it’s not about individuals taking credit for any particular initiative.

“Being on council is a team effort,” he said.

Still, he pointed to some things he’s led the way on, such as bringing the South East Kelowna Irrigation District under city control, painting rainbow crosswalks downtown and hiring social development manager Sue Wheeler who initiated the Journey Home process to deal with homelessness in Kelowna.

The integration of water systems in the city is something he points out as a key accomplishment and a process that is just beginning.

“That’s one I’m most proud of in the sense that we knew it wasn’t going to be popular but it was one I was absolutely willing to champion and lead the way on,” Basran said. “It’s not necessarily the politically popular challenge to take on but, again, it’s the right thing for our community.”

When asked to define leadership, Dyas said: “You lead by example. (It’s about) how you handle yourself and how you deal with people and the agendas that you set and it comes out of respect. And, also your work ethic. So all of those together form the basis of being able to lead and to have people walk with you.”

He pointed to the leadership role he played in making the Chamber of Commerce more relevant and “dealing with issues directly and not shying away."

Dyas said he played a key role on the provincial and national scenes in, first of all, challenging the federal Liberal’s changes to small business taxes then the provincial government’s speculation tax “when it seemed everyone in the city was extremely quiet.”

When asked to comment on Dyas’ leadership abilities as chamber president, Basran declined.

“I’d rather not go there,” he said. “I will say, the Chamber of Commerce represents less than 10 per cent of businesses in our community where I represent 100 per cent of businesses in our community.”

Dyas, on the other hand, objected to the suggestion by iNFOnews.ca that he only represented the business community in Kelowna.

“I am involved in business,” he said. “At the same time, I’m involved in many other areas of this community. As many as I can possibly be.”


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