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Recusal necessary if bias is even hinted at

Dear Editor,

When in doubt, recuse yourself. It’s that simple.

Coun. Samantha Wright is in some serious hot water this time. Already involved in a court case for apparently breaching her code of conduct, now the beleaguered and boisterous representative from Bearspaw is facing legal action for allegedly not recusing herself from an issue in which she had pecuniary interest.

This one is very troubling because the rules are clear for municipally-elected councillors. The Municipal Government Act clearly states in Section 170 that a councillor has a pecuniary interest in a matter if the matter could monetarily affect the councillor or the councillor knows or should know that the matter could monetarily affect the councillor's family.

At a council meeting, Wright participated in the discussion regarding and voted on a conceptual scheme and redesignation applications that related to property immediately adjacent to property owned by her and her husband. She also voted on a subdivision application regarding the same property.

This would appear to be either a foolish rookie mistake or a clear and direct decision to ignore the rules and regulations set up to protect Albertans from having their elected officials engage in conflict-of-interest decisions.

Doesn’t it go without question that what happens on the property next door will have an impact on your property value? This is precisely why Wright’s husband was at the hearing speaking against the application. How can you claim no pecuniary interest when your spouse is on the opposed speakers list?

When there’s even a hint of bias or pecuniary interest, a councillor should do what Springbank Coun. Kim McKylor did this week. There was an application for a cell phone tower on property adjacent to McKylor’s property, so she did the correct and mature thing and recused herself from the hearing.

Thank goodness some councillors understand the rules and abide by them.

Ken MacAulay

Division 3




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