Compared to Canadian federal or provincial government systems, our municipal government system has one huge advantage – no political parties. That is supposed to mean each council member may speak and write in accordance with how he or she believes is the best way to represent residents. In sanctioning three councillors, council has obliterated this advantage and has, in reality, created a majority political party and a minority opposition party.
By misusing and abusing the Code of Conduct, the majority has taken extreme and unreasonable steps to completely silence the minority, and has done so in a way that could never happen at the provincial or federal level. Even in the federal and provincial governments’ very strict political party systems, the minority retains every right to voice its opinions and concerns when in session or in public.
This whole sad tale began with objections to the manner in which the CAO was hired. Whether they are right or wrong, voicing those concerns is not only in the councillor's right, it is their obligation. If they believe any matter passed by the council is improper or does not follow process, they are obliged to let the electorate know. What would happen if a councillor believed council had done something illegal? Can the majority then arbitrarily make the matter confidential to ensure no one outside of council ever finds out? This is beyond undemocratic – it’s preposterous.
Additionally, the punishment is supposed to be in accordance with the severity of the crime. The sanctions imposed are extraordinarily severe for an alleged minor offence. There was and will not be any financial gain or loss, any crime committed or any municipal secrets divulged that could harm the County, its residents or employees.
As noted in a recent Rocky View Weekly editorial, the current reeve has done far worse without sanctions ever being imposed.
All elected people will have opposition, and that opposition is the foundation of democracy. Quite often that opposition is harsh, that is the nature of politics.
Residents should be thanking the sanctioned councillors – they fully value council as an entity, but realize their first loyalty must always be to residents.
Jerry ArshinoffDivision 2