In these days of seemingly dwindling civility, we think North Cowichan’s move to bring in a code of conduct for councillors and staff is a good one.
While it might be sort of fun to watch the Nanaimo city hall soap opera shenanigans from afar, we’d venture to guess that nobody actually wants their own governing body to behave in such a manner. The RCMP drop in quarterly to our councils to report on their work, not to police the meetings, and that’s how we’d prefer it to stay.
And that’s not even getting into how Donald Trump seems to be running the U.S. government and its revolving door of senior staffers. Once again, it makes good headlines, but isn’t good government.
In North Cowichan, nobody’s suing each other, and nobody’s been arrested after deteriorating workplace conduct.
But recently Councillor Joyce Behnsen was reprimanded following an investigation that found she had bullied and harassed a staff member. This is nowhere near as serious as the extent things have gone to in the north, but it’s definitely time to nip a repeat, or worse, in the bud with a clear set of rules.
Councillor Al Siebring seems to have done some pretty thorough research on what kinds of things might be desirable in such a code, and his initiative is to be commended.
This doesn’t and shouldn’t mean that everyone has to hold hands and sing ‘Kumbaya’, shying away from impassioned debate on council issues. Lively debate is a cornerstone of good government and doing what is best for constituents. Differing opinions around the council table are key to making the best possible decisions, and holding municipal staff to account is also part of council’s job. But this can and should be done in a respectful manner.
Running roughshod over others isn’t the way to “win” others to your point of view.