By Mike Archer. I’m not sure how to react to news this week that five council members, who say they would have declared a conflict of interest rather than vote on a Paul Esposito development project because he donated to their campaigns, will be allowed to vote on it because, otherwise, council would have been paralyzed due to a lack of quorum.[The four remaining councillors would not constitute a quorom which is required in order to have a meeting] Put another way; Paul Esposito gave money to so many politicians that, had they followed the law, council would have ground to a halt because a majority of council would have had to recuse itself due a possible conflict of interest.
The BC Supreme Court’s ruling allowing them to vote, while it may allow the project to go ahead, does nothing to resolve the perception of conflict.
The perception of conflict of interest has simply been set aside – not resolved.
Since each councillor and the mayor say they would have declared a conflict and recused themselves, there must have been a reason for them to do so.
The fact that the Supreme Court ruling allows them to proceed despite those facts merely underlines the need for developers to be asked to exert some sort of control or exercise some restraint in their efforts to hand money out to politicians at election time.
Perhaps it is time for developers, realtors and other businesses, organizations and individuals who stand to gain from their association with or relationship to elected officials to simply not be allowed to finance the careers of politicians by donating to their election campaigns.
While some have jumped at the opportunity to congratulate council for obeying the law [a notable event in Abbotsford], we still have a majority of council who have accepted money from a developer on whose project they are going to be deciding.
While obeying the law does indeed seem to be a new approach in Abbotsford under Mayor Braun, the perception of conflict has not gone away. And, that is what the law was supposed to protect us against.
Doesn’t sound like much was accomplished at all except the covering of six butts.