Kudos to Mike Shanks for his courageous comments and for standing up for democracy as demanded by conscience and law, but so frequently lacking at Sechelt council meetings.
That a majority of council is all too willing to conduct public business under the cloak of in-camera confidentiality, denying the public their right to know the whys and the wherefores of council’s decision making does not make it right or legal.
Coun. Doug Hockley said he would have preferred if the discussion raised by Coun. Shanks had stayed in-camera, and of that I have no doubt! One wonders what views he expresses in-camera that he is unwilling to say in public, and if he is not prepared to express those views in public, why not? He is, after all, a publicly elected councillor required by conscience and law to carry out the public’s business in public, except in limited circumstances.
Special report No. 34 open meetings: Best Practices Guide for Local Governments, published by BC’s Ombudsperson Kim Carter - September 2012 - opens with the following quote from the Supreme Court of Canada: “Municipal law was changed to require that municipal governments hold meetings that are open to the public, in order to imbue municipal governments with a robust legitimacy. The democratic legitimacy of municipal decisions does not spring solely from periodic elections, but also from a decision-making process that is transparent, accessible to the public and mandated by law.”
Hockley said, “We have a lot of in-camera meetings because there are a lot of things happening and there will be a continuation of the proliferation of in-camera meetings simply because some of us want to move Sechelt forward…”. One wonders how is it that every other municipal council across Canada appears able to ‘move forward’ while conducting their business in public?