Dear Editor,

For what it’s worth, there really is no issue regarding conflict of interest rules. The rules are there as a safeguard against abuse of privileged information. The rules are there to ensure public interests are protected. The guidelines are there to help navigate through the various applications of the rules. The courts are in the process of clarifying those guidelines. In short, the intent of the conflict of interest guidelines is to help keep politics open and transparent.

The guidelines are not to be used as a bludgeon to isolate councillors from being actively involved with their communities. Our mayor is quoted as saying “… if you’re on a board of a non-profit organization then your primary duty is to that organization. You’re supposed to be doing the work of that organization at all times… You can’t wear two hats.”

Nonsense! Life itself is a matter of balancing interests and priorities. It is in the best interest of communities to elect individuals who have a broad range of interests and who are involved in community activities. That’s how you keep in touch with what is important to the community.

And when there is a possible conflict of interest, such as when an organization you belong to is applying for city monies, that’s when you step away from the council table. You don’t participate in discussions. You don’t vote. You don’t even stay in the room to observe. It’s pretty clear-cut.

I am concerned when those rules are misused or misapplied to the detriment of our community. We just honoured a past member of council, Ron Sherwood, a few weeks ago. Ron’s strength as a councillor was that he was extremely involved in community affairs, belonged to many organizations, and knew the pulse of this community. Why would we settle for less? Enough with making a bogeyman out of perfectly sensible regulations.

Kurt Christopherson

Merritt, B.C.