Editorial: Conflicts of interest hamstring council

Declarations of conflict prevent council from doing business

There is something wrong with a system where people who volunteer can be ham-strung if they choose to run for public office.

At the last council meeting, two councillors excused themselves from the council table because of what they felt would be a conflict of interest. This wasn’t a pecuniary conflict where they would gain financially in any way. In one case, a councillor sat on the CREST board, and felt she could not vote because of a line item in the Telecommunications section of the district’s proposed Five Year Financial Plan. The councillor would receive no pecuniary benefit, so it seems absurd for her to excuse herself from such an important vote.

The other situation involved a councillor whose husband was a volunteer fireman, repeat volunteer. There is a line item in the budget for volunteer fire fighters, so how is this a pecuniary benefit to the councillor or her spouse? Volunteers are not paid.

These types of declarations of conflict are absurd. This would mean that anyone, or their spouse, who volunteered in the community and if their organization or group received a grant or fee for service they would be in a conflict of interest position.

Each of the councillors and the mayor receive a stipend for their work, so one could argue that voting on the financial plan would then become a conflict.

This is carrying the perception of conflict of interest too far and some common sense needs to be used in these situations. If a councillor was voting on a bylaw which would see their business benefit then that would be a conflict, but sitting on a volunteer board doing their public duty is not a conflict as defined in the Community Charter (under Ethical Conduct). They are not benefiting personally or business-wise. Council enacting bylaws which would support a councillor’s business is a different thing altogether, and that needs more scrutiny.

These two councillors are trying to be responsible but in fact they are not, in that they are impeding the business of council. Let’s be realistic about how we define conflict of interest because in these cases the interests of the taxpayers are not being met.

Just Posted

Kenny Podmore, here seen at Sidney’s cenotaph in November, says he feels for the veterans after organizers had to cancel an event acknowledging Victory in Europe (VE) Day for the second time in as many years because of COVID-19. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
North Saanich event marking 75th anniversary of VE-Day cancelled

Sidney resident first planned event for May 9, 2020 moved to May 8 before being cancelled

Individuals and businesses are encouraged to bring their unwanted electronics to Tillicum Centre May 14 to be shredded, recycled or donated. (Black Press Media file photo)
Greater Victoria residents can shred, donate electronics safely

Vancouver Island Better Business Bureau hosts event May 14 at Tillicum Centre

Scheduling popular summer events like the Canada Day celebrations is difficult due to the pandemic. (File - Sooke News Mirror)
Sooke summer events schedule clouded by COVID

Public health guidelines hamper plans

The District of Sooke is looking at new plans to build a fenced dog park at Ponds Park Corridor. (Pixabay.com)
Sooke seeks input on dog park

Public comment welcomed until June 4

Victoria police responded to a vehicle where this dog was found in distress due to the heat after being left inside. (Photo courtesy of VicPD)
Hot cars can be fatal to dogs left inside, Victoria police reminds public after distress calls

Victoria police found two dogs in a car with an internal temperature of 47 C on Friday

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

Sinikka Gay Elliott was reported missing on Salt Spring Island on Wednesday, May 12. (Courtesty Salt Spring RCMP)
Body of UBC professor found on Salt Spring Island, no foul play suspected

Sinikka Elliott taught sociology at the university

The first Black judge named to the BC Supreme Court, Selwyn Romilly, was handcuffed at 9:15 a.m. May 14 while walking along the seawall. (YouTube/Screen grab)
Police apologize after wrongly arresting B.C.’s first Black Supreme Court Justice

At 81 years old, the retired judge was handcuffed in public while out for a walk Friday morning

Queen Elizabeth II and Clive Holland, deputy commonwealth president of the Royal Life Saving Society, top left, virtually present Dr. Steve Beerman, top right, with the King Edward VII Cup for his drowning-prevention work. Tanner Gorille and Sarah Downs were honoured with Russell Medals for their life-saving resuscitation. (Buckingham Palace photo)
Queen presents Vancouver Island doctor with award for global drowning prevention

Dr. Steve Beerman receives Royal Life Saving Society’s King Edward VII Cup at virtual ceremony

Former UFV Cascades wrestling coach Arjan Singh Bhullar is now the ONE heavyweight champion after defeating Brandon Vera via TKO in round two on Saturday in Singapore. (ONE Championship)
Former UFV wrestling coach wins MMA championship

Arjan Singh Bhullar captures ONE heavyweight title, first Indian origin fighter to achieve honour

Astra Zeneca vaccine waits for injection in a Feb. 3, 2021 file photo. A Langley man has become the second B.C. resident to suffer a blood clot following an injection. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
B.C. man required emergency surgery after AstraZeneca vaccination

Shaun Mulldoon suffered ‘massive blood clot’ after jab

Chilliwack’s Kile Brown, performing as drag queen Hailey Adler, dances and lip syncs in front of hundreds of people during the inaugural Chilliwack Pride Barbecue at the Neighbourhood Learning Centre on Aug. 24, 2019. Monday, May 17 is International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of May 16 to 22

International Day Against Homophobia, Talk Like Yoda Day, Sea Monkey Day all coming up this week

Sinikka Gay Elliott was reported missing on Salt Spring Island on Wednesday, May 12. (Courtesty Salt Spring RCMP)
MISSING: Salt Spring RCMP find woman’s car, still seek Island resident

Sinikka Gay Elliott is 5’3” with a slim build and dark brown short hair

Tagen Marshall of Parksville is looking to raise funds for a new specialized van. (Submitted photo)
Wolf: Parksville’s Tagen Marshall inspires others, aims to invest in himself

VIU honour student with spastic quadriplegia cerebral palsy seeks help achieving big dreams

Most Read