Letter to the editor: Try respect and integrity on for size

A response to the letter to the editor: "Setting the record straight"

Editor:

Re: Setting the record straight, Feedback, July 6.

I agree.  I think you may be indeed be “setting a record” for the amount of attention given! Your “community” newspaper has printed this item filled with accusations, suggestions of collusion and loaded statements like the references to a “parade” of city management exiting- being “paid to leave”, a “wasteful whitewash” from the auditor etc.

And despite your policy that submissions should be 250 words or less, by my estimate, Ms. Morton’s letter was closer to 1,000 words – half a page!

Pardon me, but I think your bias is showing. Printing an editor’s note at the end of this lengthy submission indicating that Mayor Sjostrom declined comment is almost laughable. What should she comment on? A careful reading of Ms. Morton’s submission does not offer any compelling “evidence” of the serious accusations that she continues to put forward. This is what I read from the article itself:

• Ms. Morton states that she requested “a clear understanding” from the advanced rulings department of Revenue Canada on the tax-free expense allowance. (This might suggest that this is a regulation that is very open to multiple lawful interpretations.) They returned her fee, she states, because they “do not want to provide the information.” What should the Mayor comment on here?

• The fact that Gail Shea, Federal Revenue Minister referred Ms. Morton’s letter to Finance Minister Flaherty is not confirmation that the exemption has been misinterpreted or misused. If Ministers Shea or Flaherty provided Ms. Morton with the “clear understanding” that she requested, she has omitted it in her submission – I do not see it stated there. Ms. Morton states that MP Dick Harris is “clearly at odds with his government’s own finance minister!” but we don’t even know what Mr. Flaherty has said. To be fair, perhaps this is why Mayor Sjostrom declined comment.

Ms. Morton seems to suggest that some phone numbers on the phone bills provided should not have been blacked out, because anyone who knows her understands that she is “very concerned about protecting the privacy of individuals.”

While I am sure this is true, it must be said, sadly, that this is not a sufficient guarantee in the realm of governmental policy and regulations.

Governments and their agencies do not rely upon promises or personality to implement the rules fairly.

And remember your front page story about a city employee’s termination? Any public official who offers his opinion and further, makes unsubstantiated accusations about a sensitive human resource issue is violating confidentiality and is in breach of his oath.

Anyone who works in this area knows this. To deflect his irresponsibility by ridiculing other councillors for upholding this oath is even more dishonourable.

But you gave it the front page and of course, the mayor and other councillors, honouring their oath of confidentiality, declined comment.

Only a few people know all of facts here. Why should we rely upon someone who cannot honour his own oath to interpret this story?

A community newspaper can go a long way to promote respect, integrity and civility in the political discourse. I think you should try it.

Bev Haluschak

Quesnel

 

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