Conflict of interest topic of interest to mayor

as the Mayor sees it with District of Barriere Mayor Bill Humphreys

I have attended more than a few lectures given by legal experts. In most cases I like attending these. I watch to see who in the audience gets that guilty look or squirms a bit when a point of law applies to them. Sort of like in school when the school principal lectured the whole school on following a particular rule.

I always looked to see how the guys you know just broke the rule, but haven’t been caught yet react.

When you enter politics at any level you are expected to do so with a pure heart and leave behind any sort of thoughts of personal gain through getting elected.

For some this is easy, but for others the political arena is just another method of achieving personal goals. They use whatever elected position they hold as a tool to further their own agendas.

Sadly, for the most part these agendas involve the making of money.

Yes, it appears that some people strive to get elected so that they can improve their own lot in life and not for the good of the public they serve.

There are countless volumes of legal rulings, procedures and the like, written on the topic of how an elected official is to conduct themselves.

Each year, at the various conventions politicians attend, there are learning sessions on the topic.

There is a great deal of information and legal advice available, yet each year the lawyers retained by the various districts, municipalities and cities throughout the country are defending lawsuits brought about by the actions of a small number of elected officials.

Here in British Columbia the Community Charter has a number of sections that deal with the various rules that dictate how elected officials should act.

On the website for the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development there are various interpretations of sections of the Community Charter.

There is for example Section 102 : (restrictions on inside influence) prohibits a member of council from using his or her office to attempt to influence a decision of the municipality. For example, a council member would likely be in contravention of the inside influence restriction if he or she as a council member, lobbied the municipal approving officer regarding an application to subdivide land owned by the council member.

The restriction states that a member of council who has a direct or indirect pecuniary interest in a matter must not use his or her office to attempt to influence a decision, recommendation or action to be made or taken on the matter: at a board, council, committee or other meeting of another body of the local government; by officers and/or an employee of the local government; and by a person to whom the local government has delegated authority.

Note that the quote says, that “the council member would likely be in contravention of the inside influence restriction.”

It seems that these things are never black and white. However,  public perception is what drives claims of conflict of interest, as well as claims around the other restrictions covered in the Community Charter, such as inside influence.

Public perception of wrong doing by a singular council member taints public opinion of the actions of council as a whole. In the most severe cases of wrong doing, the municipality, by a 2/3 vote of council or 10 or more electors of the municipality, may make the application to the Supreme Court to have a person disqualified.  A person who is disqualified cannot run until the next general local election.

I must ask how would this repair the public confidence and trust lost in the whole of council?

This is an interesting theoretical discussion. One that I am sure provides food for thought for many people, or for at least ten in some cases.

District staff are investigating insulating the bandshell washrooms so that they can be used during events such as the Santa parade and the Christmas tree lighting ceremony. Money is the problem or more accurately, the lack of money.

The ice rink is in good repair, and Mr. Fortin and Councillor Kershaw are working on getting the old snow blowing equipment operational.