Custom Search
Top Stories
Go to Site Index See "Top Stories" main page
REPORTING · 21st May 2010
Walter McFarlane
Mayor Joanne Monaghan was not at the City Council Meeting on Monday May 17th but her name did come up under new business. Councillor Randy Halyk brought an item out of the Information Package Councillors receive for each meeting.

“In our [For Information Only] Package, we received a brochure electronically sent out to all of us. It just explains Enbridge's side of their story. Upon reading it, I found some disturbing things that were a little bit off the channel. I notice that our Mayor is in there which is interesting. I wasn’t sure, I hadn’t known about that. Then I checked their website and there were two videos done, one by the Mayor and one by our Economic Development Administrator, Dianne Hewlett which really caused me some concern because I was under the impression staff wasn’t supposed to get into politics,” said Halyk.

Halyk stated he was a member of the CAB with Enbridge so he could discuss ways to protect Kitimat. He was concerned about this appearing because: “We, as a council, haven’t made any decisions about Enbridge and I think that we need to do that if our staff and our Mayor are indeed talking about it,” said Halyk.

”Northern Gateway would provide a predictable revenue stream for local government and jobs for both aboriginal and non aboriginal people in the community, as well as opening the door for new marine occupations for coastal communities. As we look at the opportunities that may create jobs, we also have to recognize that it must be done in an environmentally sustainable way. If the environmental review process confirms that no harm will be done, these are the kind of direct community benefits that I would like to see happen in Kitimat and along the shipping route,” said Monaghan in the brochure.

Councillor Mario Feldhoff stated he had read the brochure and determined Monaghan was speaking on her own behalf rather than on behalf of Council. “I don’t think it’s fair. She is clearly not speaking on behalf of Council. The language she is using,” said Feldhoff. He read the last part (in bold above) putting emphasis on the “I” found within. “She’s speaking as the Mayor, she’s not speaking on behalf of Council, she's not saying the District of Kitimat and other things that I think are very appropriate at this point in time and if we have concerns over the District of Kitimat’s position, we could put forward a notice of motion and we’ll debate it at some point in time,” said Feldhoff.

Councillor Richard McLaren brought up another point of her statement (underlined above). He brought attention to the use of the word “we.” “I think the Mayor’s put herself right on the fence,” said McLaren.

Halyk clarified he did not state this was wrong, it was there. He also pointed out there were two videos on the Enbridge website which he wanted everyone to look at.

“In all fairness, Mayor, it is protocol that when the Mayor speaks as the Mayor, she speaks on behalf of Council. As Councillor Halyk [said], this has not been a topic which has been discussed by Council and I think it is prudent for the Mayor, when she speaks, she speaks either as an individual and not as Mayor or if she does speak on behalf of Mayor, she speaks on behalf of Council,” said Councillor Gerd Gottschling.

Acting Mayor Rob Goffinet did not feel comfortable discussing this further without Monaghan at the meeting. He asked to move on with the meeting. Gottschling stated there were policies and procedures in place and this was a violation of a policy. He said the issue should be dealt with and not covered up.

Councillor Feldhoff suggested bringing in the parliamentarian for clarification on this topic. He added the Mayor is allowed to express her own opinions which differ from Council’s but not while using the title of Mayor. Council moved on.

WHY IS THIS A PROBLEM?

The problem here is: The Kitimat City Council, as stated during the meeting, has not decided, as of yet, whether they support the Enbridge project. As Feldhoff and McLaren pointed out, it is very hard to tell if she is speaking on behalf of herself or on behalf of Council.

In addition, her title, “Mayor of Kitimat” is used under the quote. Gottschling points out when she uses this title, she is speaking on behalf of Council. Feldhoff on the other hand commented about not having a problem with her statement.

The concern comes from the Community Charter found here. Section 116 lays out the responsibilities of the Mayor of a community. It lists one of the responsibilities of the Mayor as: “To reflect the will of Council and to carry out other duties on behalf of the Council.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Was Monaghan misquoted again? Was she speaking on behalf of Council or was she speaking on behalf of herself? Is Enbridge using her statement and her image as the Mayor of Kitimat to garner support?

The section from the Enbridge Publication is quoted above. The videos are found at http://www.northerngateway.ca/. The first is called “World Class Marine Standards” featuring Hewlett. We at the Kitimat Daily were not able to find the other video Halyk referenced with Monaghan speaking.

Comment below.

COMMENTING ETIQUETTE

Stand by what you have to say. Post your name and include your phone number in the title or text box with your comment. Your phone number will not be published with the comment.
She's done it again
Comment by Rory Brown on 25th May 2010
I think its simple. When she is quoted "Mayor", she is speaking as the mayor, and speaking on behalf of council and the community. Once again she has done what ever she wants with no regard for whats right.
Sounding like a broken record, its time for her to go. Kitimat needs a responsible council. Think of it this way, if council was a hockey team, and the residents of Kitimat were the owners, it would be time to fire the coach.
The separation of personal and public?
Comment by Helmut Giesbrecht on 21st May 2010
It is almost impossible for people in politics to separate public private life from political life. Their positions in the community are not taken off an put on like a hat. Things you say publicly are always identified with your position.

Would your opinion be requested if you were a private citizen or, is your opinion of significance because of the position you hold. If it is the latter you can bet that you comments will be identified with your position.

Here in Terrace some years ago a couple of municipal politicians endorse a federal liberal candidate. They even had the audacity to do it in front of city hall and then make the claim that they were doing it as private citizens. There were not many,if any who believed them.

So it requires some caution. Get caught drinking and driving while leaving a house party with friends and you'll find there is a very blurred line between private life and public life. Flame out at an airport security guard on your way home from vacation and you will find the same. Show a bias on an issue and claim it is a personal opinion and you will have a hard time claiming objectivity when the vote comes around.

It is the price you pay for getting into public life.