Democracy is doing just fine

Misconceptions abound about what happened in Qualicum Beach that night

From your letters section it is becoming increasingly obvious that a campaign is being mounted by disgruntled supporters of mayor Westbroek in connection with his dethronement as Qualicum Beach’s representative on the RDN Board and the loss of a $10,000 plus stipend.

Your newspaper has been partly complicit in this activity by publishing so many zealous letters of support for him without providing the factual balance incorporated in the Municipal Act.

The Municipal Act defines a mayor as “the council member elected at large to be the chair of the council.” In other words, the mayor is a councillor elected to be the presiding officer at council deliberations.

There is no magical quality beyond that fact that make him (or her) greater or lesser than other members of the council elected at that time. In fact 14 (1) of the Act reinforces these thoughts when it reads: “The powers of a municipality are exercised by the council.”

I am tired of reading about the actions of four councillors as being somehow a power grab, backstabbing, an insult to the people, anti-democratic, maverick, gang of four and so on.

The fuss began when Mayor Westbroek was quoted as saying “members of the council have … subverted the democratic process” by their decision.

He was in error.

The Municipal Act says “a question arising at a council meeting shall be decided by a majority of votes.”

Is that subversion? The mayor’s ill-considered statement has led to this outpouring of emotional ignorance about what democracy really is.

Mayors do not, alone or exclusively, represent the community. The council, collectively and individually, represents us.

Another local newspaper has just published a “spin” article about how Mr. Westbroek was “one of the best” directors of the Regional District of Nanaimo Board. The timing of this testament to virtue is clearly suspicious. Little notice has been given to the fact that neither the mayors of Lantzville or of Parksville have been nominated by their councils to sit on the RDN board!

A most unfortunate political atmosphere has been created. We must hope it will soon pass. But it is sad that some feel uncomfortable in a newly refreshed democracy.

Nestor Gayowsky

 

Qualicum Beach