OUR VIEW: Rob Ford situation raises an issue for B.C.

We say: Extended terms mean bad politicians stick around longer

The behaviour of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has long since surpassed the realm of quirky and seen him sink to the depths to become a detriment to his community.

That said, residents of British Columbia’s cities can feel lucky we’re not facing a similar situation among our elected civic politicians.

While the examples have been rare of a rogue mayor or councillor embarrassing themselves publicly or shedding a negative light on their municipality, extending municipal terms to four years from three, as Union of B.C. Municipalities members endorsed this fall, may not be a good idea in light of the Ford situation.

The B.C. Community Charter states that councillors can only be disqualified from office for not taking the required oath, missing meetings for 60 days or four consecutive meetings for reasons other than ill health or by leave of council, conflict of interest where influence or inside knowledge is used inappropriately, or the unauthorized use of money.

The vast majority of councillors take seriously their oath of office and pecuniary responsibility to constituents.

In the event individuals run into conflict, perceived or real, or exhibit questionable behaviour, councils are generally good at policing themselves.

When further action clearly needs to be taken, the onus falls on the individual to do the right thing. As we’ve seen with Ford and local politicians, the results can be mixed.

With few mechanisms at our disposal to oust individuals who prompt serious consideration of termination or forced resignation, the best avenue is still the ballot box.

– Black Press