Editor, The News:
Re: Making an informed decision (Letters, Aug. 7)
I do not dispute Ms. Ashlie’s points that she has the right to be employed in addition to her councillor duties, and that there was no conflict when she undertook the role of campaign manager for Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows MLA Doug Bing.
I believe she is qualified to be a constituency assistant and that she cares deeply about our community. It is for these reasons I have always supported her bid to be on council.
However, comparing her role as CA for a Liberal MLA who sits as a member of government, to a CA for an NDP MLA who sits in opposition, is like comparing cats to mice – there is an obvious power difference.
A CA has a high degree of responsibility and authority. They do much of the day-to-day work of the MLA. They are depended on for their opinions. As CA for a sitting member of the government she would have real influence that could affect legislation – the CA to a member of the opposition would have none.
Often, priorities of the provincial and municipal governments can be opposing. This is not uncommon and not necessarily a bad thing for the people.
According to Wikipedia, “ the conflict in a conflict of interest exists whether or not a particular individual is actually influenced by the secondary interest. This means even if a person is able to keep the issues separate, he r she is still in a conflict situation.
Some justify Ms. Ashlie taking the CA job with MLA Bing, as having potential benefits to Maple Ridge therefore it is OK. That is so wrong. The conflict of interest responsibility door swings both ways; the people of B.C. should be as concerned as the people of Maple Ridge.
One conflict could be the provincial government refusing to give more tax breaks to the movie industry.
Locally, we could easily oppose that position because of how much movie companies contribute to our local economy.
Another example is pay parking at hospitals – the B.C. government depends on the revenue, while many citizens of Maple Ridge would like to see pay parking removed, or at least reduced.
What about issues involving the ALC? Education? Roads? Prisons? Parks? Streams?
In Port Coquitlam, the mayor, CAO, MLA and councillor/CA involved agreed that a person could hold both jobs only so long as the MLA was not a member of the governing party.
They further agreed that if the NDP were to win the next election the councillor/CA involved would have to make a choice between jobs due to the potential conflict.
The collective agreement clause Ms. Ashlie interprets as confirmation she is allowed to do both jobs is actually a clause allowing for a leave of absence to ensure a person does not do both jobs. She has this one backwards.
She notes that “collective agreements are structured to ensure they are not ultra vires to the laws of the land” as if that gives her judicial approval to hold both jobs; what a red herring that is.
Ultra vires is a Latin term meaning, “If a corporation enters into a contract that is beyond the scope of its corporate powers, the contract is illegal.”
Common sense really and far from authorization to do what she is doing.
I disagree that Ms. Ashlie’s decision was informed. It appears to me she only researched enough to argue about taking the job, not validate it. The quality and understanding of her research is poor.
This is very concerning, not what many of her supporters expect.
This does not pass the optics test and never will. I call on Ms. Ashlie to declare an honest mistake, correct the situation by giving up one of her two conflicting roles and go forward with no burden.
Dan Olson is a former federal Liberal candidate.