A potential District of Mission council candidate is reconsidering his decision to run in November’s civic election after someone put up damaging posters of him in his neighbourhood.
“If this is what politics is about, I don’t want to be a part of it,” said Artur Gryz, who has been a Mission resident for 14 years. “I feel disgusted something like this would even happen.”
He said the posters falsely portray him as a stalker and a danger to the neighbourhoods of Tunbridge Common, Tunbridge Street and Neale Drive.
The poster carries a photo of Gryz, a message advising parents to tell their children and elderly residents about a man “predatorily stalking” the neighbourhood, and to call RCMP if anyone sees him.
Gryz, who says he has not been in trouble with the law before, believes the posters were put up in response to a photo he posted on a Facebook page earlier in the week.
Gryz was walking his two dogs through Neale Drive on Sept. 15 when he noticed several members of the Citizens Responsible for Municipal Government (CRMG) team, including Mission Mayor Ted Adlem and councillors Larry Nundal and Dave Hensman, pull into a driveway.
From the street on public property, Gryz took a photo of the vehicles and listed who they belonged to on his Facebook page, where he questioned if these individuals would be running under Mission’s only political slate, CRMG, in this fall’s municipal election.
Gryz told The Record he voluntarily removed the post a short while later after realizing it was creating rumours in the community. Some people who saw his Facebook post called the action “creepy” and a “total invasion of privacy,” including someone identified as “Dave Hensman” and “Alison Noon-Adlem.”
“My issue has nothing to do with politics, but rather the total invasion of privacy and feeling safe in ones (sic) home space,” wrote “Noon-Adlem” on Sept. 16.
Mayor Ted Adlem is married to an Alison Noon-Adlem.
On Sept. 17, “Hensman” wrote on the Facebook thread, “I’m going to take this further and at minimum notify my neighbours of an obvious problem. Let’s face it no (sic) of us really know Mr. Gryz. This kind of behaviour is creepy, sinister and people need to be warned.”
Gryz discovered the posters on Sept. 19 as he was walking his dogs again through the same neighbourhood.
He initially thought someone was playing a joke on him, but soon realized the seriousness of the poster when he read it.
“The poster portrayed me in a very negative light,” said Gryz, who began to notice neighbours taking a closer look at him and vehicles slowing down as they passed him.
Gryz saw more posters as he continued on his walk and began to fear for his safety.
“I felt like a criminal in my own neighbourhood,” said Gryz, who was further concerned when an RCMP officer knocked on his door that same day.
Mission RCMP confirmed there was an incident involving posters, but didn’t release the names of anyone involved.
“Our investigator spoke with several parties possibly involved,” said Sgt. Shaun Wright.
“It was determined that no criminal offence had been committed. The parties spoken with were advised that if they were proven to be linked to this activity (putting up the posters), and it were a recurring event, then the behaviour may cross the line into the offence of public mischief.”
Gryz said Tuesday, “I want to make a difference in the community, but I’m scared and don’t know if it’s the right move.” He believes the reaction to the photo he posted was “over the top.”
“I’m concerned for my personal safety and business reputation.
“These character assassination tactics have labelled me as a criminal, leaving me unable to work or enjoy the community I live in, and have put me, my family, my friends as well as our community all at risk, and have tainted my businesses in a way that is irreversible.”
Gryz has strong suspicions as to who is behind the character attack and he is consulting with lawyers to determine his next move.
In a five-minute YouTube video posted this week, mayoralty challenger and former CRMG slate member Coun. Tony Luck calls on Adlem for an inquiry into the incident, which he called “character assassination.”
Adlem is adamant CRMG had no part in producing or distributing the posters.
“I knew we would be accused,” Adlem told The Record. “I can’t speak for what people do, but I know CRMG has nothing to do with it. I know I had nothing to do with it … I support my wife to be a free speaker and speak her mind.”
Adlem responded to Luck’s video in an email on Thursday, saying he had established no one from CRMG had been involved with the poster, which “has become an attack on our integrity.”
“A good principled and ethical individual would have called me in advance for information that I may have had,” Adlem wrote.
Adlem confirmed Hensman met with RCMP. Hensman is in Pakistan this week, and could not be reached for comment.