Mayoral candidate Sylvia Bishop is hoping to keep Delta’s municipal election a civil one, and has announced her team will be signing a code of ethical conduct to combat trends of incivility in politics.
“Today we are witnessing an alarming degree of incivility in politics, government and public life south of our national border,” she said during her second press conference in three days. “The current president of the United States in large measure won the highest office in that land through repugnant and hurtful attacks on his political opponents, on members of the news media and even fellow citizens who merely looked different from him.
“Those of us who hold or seek public office can do better, and we must do better.”
To be proactive in raising the level of public discourse, Bishop said, Team Delta decided to create a code of conduct “to assure voters that we intend to debate real issues.”
The code, which covers nine different areas of conduct, will apply to Sylvia Bishop and council candidates Robert Campbell, Simran Walia, Kim Kendall and Joan Hansen, as well as their campaign managers, volunteers and supporters.
“In an attempt to be proactive, what we want to signal is that this campaign is about the real issues that affect people in Delta,” she said.
Deciding to institute a code of conduct was a proactive decision, Bishop said, and not one that was spurred by expectations of dirty tactics from the other candidates.
“I have no suspicion things are going to go meanly negative,” she said. “I know both … my competitors for the mayor’s seat. I know them; I know them well. I have no reason to think that they’re going to be nasty. But this puts it out for the public: this is what we’re going to adhere to.”
The code covers nine different points:
- Honesty — Team Delta representatives will be honest, fair, truthful and trustworthy at all times;
- Integrity — representatives will avoid placing themselves under any obligation to people or organizations who may try to influence them during an election;
- Openness — representatives will be open and transparent and will not have any hidden agendas;
- Respect for the law — representatives will comply with the letter and the spirit of B.C.’s election laws;
- Co-operation — representatives will co-operate with election officials and will not interfere with their work;
- Selflessness — representatives will work solely in the public interest, not for theirs or the interests of family, friends or associates;
- Objectivity — representatives will act impartially, using the best evidence and without discrimination or bias;
- Accountability — representatives will be accountable to the public for decisions and actions before, during and after the election;
- Leadership — representatives will be an example to others in all of these principles and challenge objectionable behaviour.
The full code will be listed on Team Delta’s website.
Although the code covers many areas, it does not include any built-in accountability measures. Bishop said these will come from discussions with the team and the public.
“The public is going to let us know if they have a concern, first off,” she said. “Secondly, we meet regularly as a team, and it’s a time we can share any concerns or question why somebody might have said or done something.
“We don’t expect that to happen, because we’re stepping out first and saying, ‘If you want to be on our team, this is what you have to be able to adhere to. This is what we believe in.'”
Bishop has since reached out to the other mayoral candiates and declared slates to invite them and their coleagues to also sign Team Delta’s ethics code.
“Historically, and certainly in my personal experience, Delta’s elected representatives have been exemplary in their personal and professional conduct,” Bishop said in a press release. “That said, Team Delta’s code of ethical conduct may give our community an opportunity to lead the way for local politicians across B.C. to elevate how we campaign for office in the period leading up to election day.”
Civic elections take place across B.C. on Saturday, Oct. 20.