Name Calling - Another Face of the Trust - Alcyonenews

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Posted March 25, 2016

Name Calling - Another face of the Trust

At the January 5, 2012 LTC meeting, the first I attended with the then newly elected LTC, RPM Leah Hartley mentioned my name and Trustee Grove responded: “He [Varzeliotis] needs someone to talk to him, that is all ... I will have a talk with him sometime soon”.  It appears Grove did not recognize my face, but  I was there.

Thereafter, when I would bring to the LTC matters that he did not like to hear, Trustee Grove would attack my person;  he would chastise me in public for my speaking manner as if he was a schoolmaster and I was a pupil dragged before him

No, I was not taking it lying down. Each time I would explain to him that by entering politics he had agreed to listen to the people even when their words were not music to his ears. I was unwilling to let anyone suppress my freedom of speech and my right to contribute to the public affairs of my society but I was not overly concerned, about defamation because then Chair Malcolmson would honour my right to reply, promptly and on the same forum, which was fair.  But it was all in vain, for the next time he,  and I of course,  would perform again the same routine.

This went on until mid 2013, when RPM Leah Hartley, on orders from the LTC, wrote a Report on Booth Canal “to answer the concerns of Dr. Varzeliotis”. It turned out to be techically substandard, was not “answering” any of my “concerns” and was detrimental to the cause of Booth Canal. Upon seeing it in the Agenda Package, I suggested to Hartley to re-work it – she would not! I then wrote a review of the Hartley Report and was, of course, critical of it.

Grove took it upon himself to play St. George to Maiden Hartley and make thing “Trust-right”. He phoned me on a sunny Sunday morning, early, before brunch to give me an  ultimatum: “Withdraw it!” I suggested he have Hartley withdraw her Report, thereby making my review of it redundant. Grove would have none of that: The Report stays, the Review must go ... or else... said he.

I refused for many more reasons than  Grove’s manner.  Grove went on to make good on his threat. The outcome was a censorship Bylaw No 473 and a serialization of Trust censorship, focused on personal attacks against me.

By mid 2014 things had gotne so bad, I felt I had to address the expressions of authoritarianism and wrote a delegation titled  “Trust Fleur du Mal – An Anthology of Trust Defamations”. This I sought to present at the May 29, 2014 LTC Meeting – “They” answered it the best way they could, for themselves, or so they thought, which was  to censor my paper.

I will now “un-censor”, it and will include it here, below. This illuminates the history of Trust censorship which crescendoed recently by attacking me in the mass communication media;  and because it manifests the corporate philosophy, or rather sophistry of the Trust and this should be exposed now  that the people of SSI are on the verge of  deciding whether to distance our island from the grip of the Trust.


for Presentation to the SSI LTC at its May 29, 2014 Meeting By Dr. A.N.T. Varzeliotis, Civil Engineer

Trust Fleur du Mal – An Anthology of Trust Defamations


At the May 8, 2014, LTC meeting Chair Malcolmson demonstrated, once again, her unshakable-appearing misconception of what constitutes “defamation”. Trustee Grove has on many occasions over the past 2 ½ years demonstrated a similar intransigence. Trustee Grams is restrained, but he partakes in acts of defamation, relying, one presumes, on “The Devil made me do It” line of defence. RPM Hartley has shown affinity for the “tends to hurt” bit in the Trust’s definion of defamation and manifests no concern about the other parameters of it.

Whether something said may “hurt” someone, is a subsidiary aspect of defamation, if not wholly  immaterial.  I remember well the choir-master evicting me, not entirely gently,  from the children’s choir – evidently such events “hurt”! But he was true to the tune and, in retrospect, I  am indebted to him from saving me from  pursuing a career in Opera!

Whether speaking out “tends to hurt” someone’s “reputation” must be weighed against the alternative of silence. Look at the damage done to the reputation of pig farmer Robert Pikcton, Commander  Russell Williams, some Hon. Members of the Senate, the Hon. Alison Redford and many others. That Hartley resents having her report scrutinized in no way supercedes the cause of Booth Canal and the integrity of the institution of review of concerts, books, horse-races and reports –  “debate” is fundamental to the well-being of our society.

The Trust evades criticism by covering up indefensible conduct. If and when their secrecy cocoon cracks and the truth spills out,  they respond with platitudes, seek to “demonize” whom exposes them and/or confuse the issue and try to contain and curtain the “spill”.

The epitome of their creativity, thus far, is pronouncing a document “deemed to be false, when viewed in its entirety”! Yes they do that and then plug their ears to the calls to identify what they found “false” or otherwise censor-able.

Following I will sample the defamations done me by the Trust in their latest scurrying about to evade accountability and to justify their censoring my delegations;  and their institutionalizing censorship in the form of Bylaw 473 by  which Trustee Grove embedded censorship into the interface of the people with the Trust.  

Fleur du Mal (Flowers of Evil) – An anthology of Trust Defamations


“The material that you submitted to support your delegation request is considered to contain defamatory content to staff and trustees when viewed in its entirety.   It contains numerous personal remarks and personal opinions directed at a named trustee or staff person, as well as aspersions about their motives.   Therefore, in keeping with the direction given to staff by the Salt Spring Island Local Trust Committee, the document will not be included in the February 27, 2014 LTC agenda package.”

Pauline Brazier, February 20, 2014


“In the March 20 LTC package, I see your [Varzeliotis] correspondence associated with your delegation.  Thank you for ensuring that it is written in a manner that is not defamatory.”

Leah Hartley, March 13, 2014


“Due to the Islands Trust’s obligation to ensure a respectful workplace for its employees, the Salt Spring Island Local Trust Committee will not accept any further delegations or correspondence at its meetings that are slanderous to staff and regrets that such material has been published with the agenda. The Trust Committee is also requesting staff not to publish documents that are defamatory or harassing and to exclude them from the agenda in future.”

For the reasons cited above,  your material submission entitled: “In Rage-o-Rrhea Veritas”  will not be received or included in the agenda package.”

Claire Olivier, September 27, 2013


“Per the Islands Trust Policy Manual  concerning incoming local trust committee correspondence, we must advise you that  correspondence that is defamatory toward an individual or that contains profanities or language that is deemed to be inappropriate will not be placed on a local trust committee agenda that is open to the public.

On page 4, the last page of your submission, 3rd paragraph, we have highlighted a section of text which is deemed to be defamatory.

Should you wish to remove the defamatory wording,   we will accept your material for inclusion in the March 20th agenda package.   The deadline for  re-submission will be 4:30 p.m., Wednesday, March 12th.

Claire Olivier, March 11, 2014

NB:   The “defamatory toward an individual or that contains profanities or language that is deemed to be inappropriate”, whatever the case may be, is:

“This amounts to spreading disinformation.  Hartley, having herself mid-wifed  it, knows that the purpose of that  “procedures bylaw” is to enable the Trustees and the Staff to evade answering penetrating questions, such as the “reasons” for the censoring of my Review of her (Leah Hartley’s) Report on Booth Canal.”

Claire Olivier, September 27, 2013

NB:   Trustee Grove asked Hartley to assist him in producing what is now known as “Bylaw 473", and it is highly unlikely that Groves would have done it alone.


“Below please find excerpts from the draft minutes of the Salt Spring Island Local Trust Committee meeting of August, 22, 2013.  The reasons for the removal of your delegation material from the agenda of the August 22, 2013 meeting are outlined on page 1 of the minutes, as set out below.  Also included is direction from the Salt Spring Island Local Trust Committee on future handling of delegation material which is offensive or objectionable to staff.  Guidelines for delegations and town hall are reviewed on page 6 of the minutes under item 12.

Excerpts from the August 22, 2013 draft SSILTC Minutes

From Page 1:

It was MOVED and SECONDED that the agenda be amended by removing the objectionable delegation material from agenda Item 12.1 entitled “Groyne-o-Rrhea NonScientifica” for the reason that it contains offensive, objectionable content which is contrary to the Islands Trust’s obligation to provide a respectful workplace. CARRIED

Chair Malcolmson noted the following:

Due to the Islands Trust’s obligation to ensure a respectful workplace for its employees, the Salt Spring Island Local Trust Committee will not accept any further delegations or correspondence at its meetings that are slanderous to staff and regrets that such material has been published with the agenda. The Trust Committee is also requesting staff not to publish documents that are defamatory or harassing and to exclude them from the agenda in future.”

Sheila Malcolmson, September 24, 2013


“5.1 Booth Canal Advocacy

RPM Hartley provided verbal update. The Trustees, through Trustee Grams, to enquire of the Friends of Booth Canal (FOBC) which government office they want to carry out the rehabilitation program.”

Hartley, the LTC and Grams –  Minutes of the January 9, 2014 LTC meeting


“He [Varzeliotis] needs someone to talk to him, that is all ... I will have a talk with him sometime soon”.

(Quote is from memory”, substantively correct)

Peter Grove at the “first”meeting of the current LTC - January 5, 2012



The list is a sampler, for there was much more than what it contains, but which I omitted for the cause of brevity and because I felt that the case had been already made.

Since then, more such stuff has piled up, much of which is equally libelous, some of which is much more so.

The LTC continued the censorship, through 2014 and 2015, incrementally revving up the censorship apparatus in conformity with the well known reality that a lie requires a bigger lie to hide it.

It culminated on January 2016  with the LTC going public, that is to say, talking and writing to the Driftwood newspaper informing the society that Tom Varzeliotis is a bad man. This resulted in an article on January 20, 2016 edition of the Driftwood, titled

“ISLANDS TRUST LTC limits participant's activities –  Varzeliotis denied delegation and speaking opportunities”, bylined  Elizabeth Nolan.

The Driftwood article projected the Trust “Truth” as it was conveyed by the Trust.  Since I had not seen the raw information the Trust gave, I could only comment on the information I read in the article and this I did, suspecting that there was more to it – There was indeed more and uglier stuff than I had imagined, as I found out later. But that is a story to follow. For now I will copy here the Driftwood article and the part of my reply to it,  published as a letter to the Editor in the February 3, 2016 issue of the Driftwood. Here they are:


“ISLANDS TRUST LTC limits participant's activities  Varzeliotis denied delegation and speaking opportunities


Salt Spring's Local Trust Committee has acted to reduce participation by a resident with a history of frequent communications, outlining at the Jan. 14 business meeting how information from Tom Varzeliotis will be received in future.

During Thursday's agenda item on correspondence, LTC chair Peter Luckham informed Varzeliotis that staff have been directed not to answer any letter received by him unless the members request that it be added to a meeting agenda.

"Further, we have decided we will only consider your requests to appear before the Local Trust Committee as a delegation, or to speak at a town hall session at a business meeting, if your remarks are relevant to a matter on our agenda for that meeting," Luckham said.

Varzeliotis objected to the fact that his letter wasn't included as correspondence on the agenda, nor was his request for a delegation, even though those communications wouldn't be discussed.

"You are supposed to hold public meetings. This implies that the people are entitled to know what you are doing, entitled to answers . . . You have the opportunity to say we received a message about that, and we decided that we do not want the public to know about that message. That is the honest way," he said.

Varzeliotis also compared the LTC's actions those of Idi Amin and Muammar Gaddafi.

Salt Spring trustee George Grams explained after the meeting that for several years Varzeliotis has been alleging impropriety, if not illegality, by LTC members and staff in how they treat his communications.

"At times he has addressed matters that are not within the jurisdiction of the Local Trust Committee nor Islands Trust Council. The tenor and content of some of his correspondence has been offensive and defamatory. He has been advised so in writing," Grams wrote in an email to the Driftwood.

The Salt Spring LTC meeting bylaw, as amended in 2013, permits the chair to deny an individual the right to give a delegation or address a meeting in cases of irrelevance, defamatory or derogatory speech, or improper conduct.

Islands Trust Council has investigated Varzeliotis' claims and found them groundless, Grams added, and he has so far not taken his complaints further.

"There is a limit to how much tolerance we provide someone who at each LTC makes allegations they fail to substantiate and who refuses to refer those allegations for independent and authoritative review by the Office of the Ombudsperson," Grams said. "His conduct is disruptive to the meetings and provisions in the Local Trust Committee Procedure Bylaw provide guidance on how this is to be addressed."

Varzeliotis remains free to speak at public hearings provided his remarks are related to the subject of the hearing.”


Tom Varzeliotis reply to the Driftwood artilce (the published part of it) reads:


“Re: “ISLANDS TRUST LTC limits participant's activities  – Varzeliotis denied delegation and speaking opportunities” bylined Elizabeth Nolan, the Driftwood, January 20 2016.

The article cries for corrective measures. It sources the information to Local Trust Committee (LTC) Chair Peter Luckham; to Trustee George Grams “statements” to Ms. Nolan; and to an email communication to the Driftwood from Trustee Grams, also mentioned in the subject article. I will comment on the first item but I will defer comment on the others.

At the LTC meeting, I had requested an amendment of the Agenda due to it containing, once again, entries that were not true and were, therefore disinforming the public. Unwilling to make the corrections to the Agenda, or dispute my request, Luckham elected to “justify” what I was objecting to.  He read into the record of the meeting a letter he had mailed me, privately,  on May 21, 2015, announcing yet another expansion to the  Trust censorship apparatus and revving up its deployment. This the Trust has not the authority to do, and in any event, the Trust is commanded by law, to do things in public, which explains why they did the censorship escalation by stealth.

It also explains why Chair Luckham omitted mention of the fact that I had answered his letter;  And that he has censored my repeated request to make public his letter and my response.

The recent escalation of censorship and the outburst of personal attacks manifests the effects of my work on the Trust – work on issues such as the Brinkworthy Sports Multiplex, Island Governance, Government Transparency, reversing the demise of Booth Canal, etc. They are shooting  the messenger because the message hurts.

I will repeat here a challenge I have posed countless times to the Trust, one occasion being the LTC meeting at issue, a challenge they have not even attempted to answer:

"Come and show me something, anything at all, that I said or wrote, that is not true, or that would have better been left untold – please do

It tells it all, does it not?

Tom Varzeliotis”


I will close with an amusing event. Subsequent to escalating the censorsip to mass media and, likely unhappy by me talking back, the LTC trio went or was sent to some PR school in Victoria to learn about interfacing with the media. After graduation, they reported on their newly acquired communication skills to the folk back home,  at the March 10 LTC meeting. While Trustee Grams was thus reporting Trustee Grove interjected with the remark: “And [we learned] to no voice stupid things”. Spontaneity is priceless.

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