Letter: Port Coquitlam mayor's union job undermines public trust

The Editor:

Re."'My record speaks for itself,' as Port Coquitlam mayor's 2nd salary revealed" (The Tri-City News, May 7)

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The recent news regarding Port Coquitlam Mayor Brad West's close ties and continued employment as a "political action coordinator" for the Steelworkers Union, as recently reported by the Tri-City News, should be of concern to everyone.

If nothing else, it undermines the public trust placed in him to be an impartial advocate for our city.

We need unions to focus on the vital job of protecting the rights of their workers. However their campaign contributions and his continued employment remind us that unions and corporations are unlikely to completely abandon their tradition of influencing politics, even under the new campaign financing rules. We need them out of politics completely. The interests of union and corporate executives are simply not the same as citizens. Do we have democracy or don't we?

As one example, city council has been dragging its feet on any meaningful climate action, even when specifically and directly challenged to do so. Council has rejected calls to formally recognize a “climate emergency” and allowed the environmental coordinator staff position to remain vacant for a full year. They called such a declaration "meaningless," preferring actions over words.

Yet they have failed to take meaningful action, while other cities in our region are actively prioritizing initiatives to reduce community emissions. Meanwhile, the union that helped seat Brad West as mayor has members working on a highly controversial bitumen pipeline.

The connection may be subtle and perhaps these two things are unrelated — I wouldn't want to suggest that our mayor is unduly motivated by a hidden agenda. Rather, revelations like this raise questions that undermine public faith in all politicians. This is particularly unfair to those who sincerely represent the needs of constituents without bias. Democracy is fragile.

We must demand greater transparency and accountability from our elected leaders at all levels. In these increasingly uncertain times, we need to know who we can trust.

Erik Minty, Port Coquitlam

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