Editorial: Strangling local government

Conflict of Interest ruling is hampering government

Sometimes words fail and they did in last week’s editorial.

In pointing out two councillors, Bev Berger and Kerrie Reay, who excused themselves on a vote for the Five-Year Financial Plan, it may have appeared as though they did so by choice.

They did not. They left council chambers because of a ruling made in 2013  in a B.C. Supreme Court decision Schlenker v. Torgrimson. This stems from a situation where there was a conflict because of participation on the boards of directors of not for profit organizations. The Court of Appeal noted that the object of conflict of interest provisions in the Community Charter were to “prevent elected officials from having divided loyalties in deciding how to spend the public’s money…  and who as directors were under a legal obligation to put the entity first.”

This ruling impacted elected officials and both Berger and Reay were aware there could be an indirect pecuniary conflict of interest. This could have resulted in their disqualification from public office. They knew this, I did not.

So, apologies to those two councillors for my not being clear enough in stating that the situation was “absurd” —  not the councillors’ actions.

The issue at stake here and in the past editorial is that this decision is crippling government and the province needs to do something through legislation to change this situation. In small towns it is nearly impossible to find candidates for council who are not involved in the community or any of its myriad organizations. This can also hamper those who may wish to run for public office and it in turn hampers the organizations they are volunteering in. Heaven knows it is hard enough to find volunteers.

On the other hand, the fact that it is an election year should have nothing to do with opinions in editorials and treading softly is a moot point as no one has, as yet, declared they are running for office.

Just Posted

Sixty Sooke homes needed to host Japanese students

Homestay program offers visitors a taste of life in Canada

Four charges approved in Saanich hit and run that left woman in coma

‘This was a significant crash that caused serious injuries,’ say police

Massive plaza, residential and retail project coming to Esquimalt

The Esquimalt Town Centre set to sell its first units in October

Second bat found at Greater Victoria elementary school tests positive for rabies

Island Health confirms second rabies case, this time in Saanich

VIDEO: B.C.’s famous cat Grandpa Mason has died

The story of the feral cat that started fostering kittens touched people around the world

SOOKE HISTORY: Remembering Sooke’s 1953 soccer team

Elida Peers | Contributed When Milne’s Landing High School opened in 1946,… Continue reading

Trudeau seeks meeting with Singh to apologize for blackface, brownface photos

‘I will be apologizing to him personally as a racialized Canadian,’ Trudeau said Friday

Sixty Sooke homes needed to host Japanese students

Homestay program offers visitors a taste of life in Canada

Charges stayed against Alberta RCMP officer in alleged off-duty Whistler assault

Const. Vernon Hagen instead completed an alternative measures program

VIDEO: Fire destroys Williams Lake strip club targeted by past arson attempts

Diamonds and Dust Entertainment Lounge destroyed by fire, as well as New World Tea and Coffee House

LETTER: ‘The czar does not rule Russia, a thousand clerks do.’

Re: Rules found in pre-school (Our View, Sept. 18) Thank you for… Continue reading

B.C. man guilty of first-degree murder in Yukon killing

Edward James Penner, 22, was given the mandatory life sentence for the 2017 slaying of 25-year-old Adam Cormack

Woman stabbed at least five times in Nelson during random attack

Victim is in hospital, suspect is in police custody

Most Read