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Letter: Mark Sager has lost credibility to lead West Vancouver

The current West Van mayor cannot provide the leadership the community needs, writes former mayor Michael Smith
Mark Sager web
Mark Sager speaks at a June 2018 town hall meeting in West Vancouver.

Dear Editor:

When the Law Society of B.C. recently suspended West Vancouver Mayor Mark Sager’s license to practise law, the ethical standing of his municipal leadership became a serious community issue. This was the Law Society’s second disciplinary action against Sager, the first was in 2018.

To assure my full understanding of the law society’s licence suspension, I have read the entire document filed online. It is both detailed and disturbing. In the current case, the law society found Mr. Sager guilty of professional misconduct, failure to keep complete records, and improperly withdrawing more than $230,000 from an elderly client’s account as legal fees, travel and hotel bills, and other private, personal expenses. No approval was obtained prior to incurring those expenses and some invoices were even paid twice by the estate.

Inaction by our community can be seen as condoning these actions. Inaction is not acceptable. West Vancouver’s annual operating budget is more than $150 million. The mayor is the CEO of our municipality and is responsible for these public funds. Honesty and integrity must be undoubtable. Without that trust and confidence, how can municipal budgeting and government proceed?

The mayor also represents West Vancouver on the Metro Vancouver board and on the TransLink Mayors’ Council. Both spend billions of public dollars, and currently both have many serious issues to resolve. We must have strong, credible leadership in representing the interests of our community to these organizations. Mayor Sager would have recognized this when he requested the law society postpone releasing information about their investigations into his legal conduct until after the 2022 election. Public knowledge would have damaged his ability to represent us and cause harm to the municipality.

The role of mayor is to provide leadership for the entire community. Mark Sager does not have the credibility to do this.

He should resign.

Michael Smith
West Vancouver

Michael Smith served as mayor of West Vancouver from 2011 to 2018. 

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