The following opinion-editorial column was submitted to the Tri-City News from Michie Vidal, councillor for the Village of Harrison Hot Springs and director-at-large with the Lower Mainland Local Government Association.
Re: Opinion: Elected officials exist in a terrible grey area, Port Coquitlam city councillor writes, a follow-up to Port Coquitlam Coun. Laura Dupont's Op-Ed piece from Dec. 1, 2021.
I read with great interest Councillor [Laura] Dupont's glimpse into the current drawbacks when considering running for local government.
As a local government elected official, I share her apprehension and unease.
The dilemma and obstacles faced when difficulties such as harassment and intimidation arise can result in ineffective and dysfunctioning councils whose purpose is to serve their communities.
I am fortunate and privileged to sit with a progressive council who have adopted a Code of Conduct and promote its principles.
However, the Code of Conduct adopted by many councils does not go far enough and more needs to be accomplished.
Councils are in a position where policing themselves is the norm, and lack the ability of an independent review process.
A Municipal Ethical or Integrity Commissioner, appointed by the provincial government with a mandate to review grievances and recommend appropriate actions, would provide the much needed nonpartisan decision making with such conflicts.
Other Canadian provinces have progressed with this concept. enacting legislative systems which provide balance and accountability to elected officials when they cause harm to others.
The lack of such legislation reinforces the increasing perception and eroding of trust in elected officials, undermining the confidence in those elected to act responsibly and in the best interests of their communities.
Councillor Dupont, I thank you for your awareness and informative words.
You have shone a light into a little dark side of municipal politics and I applaud your "flashlight" moment.