Workers at what was formerly known as "Playland" are sure the Chair of the Board will be pleased with the new signage they've installed on the front gate
A couple of weeks ago, we reported on concerns expressed by some residents in the Hastings Sunrise neighbourhood regarding the fact councillor Raymond Louie, Chair of the PNE Board, participated and voted on the future of Hastings Park. There are some who believe it is a conflict for the Chair of the PNE board to vote on issues pertaining to the PNE if they come before council.
Prior to Vision taking over government in 2008, the PNE board was not directly impacted by political influence. It was in 2009 that Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson appointed his former leadership rival as Chair. Louie is the only politician on the board made up of senior public servants.
Given there was a motion on the floor yesterday from Louie regarding the PNE, lone NPA councillor Suzanne Anton took the opportunity to raise concerns regarding the possibility that Louie was indeed in a conflict. She asked the Mayor whether it was appropriate for Louie to have participated in a previous debate regarding the Hastings Park Master Plan, given his senior role with the PNE.
The Mayor looked a bit flustered by the line of questioning before inviting his former leadership rival to help provide Council with some clarity. That's when Louie proceded to wag his finger at Anton and said that only individual councillors can make a determination as to whether they are in a conflict - not the Mayor. Further to that, Louie informed Council he assessed his own situation and determined he is not in a conflict when it comes to voting on matters pertaining to the PNE.
Louie then revealed he has not been paid a dime by the PNE or the City to participate in board meetings, and thus has no financial interest in the organization. According to Louie, a councillor must have a pecuniary interest in the PNE in order for there to be any kind of conflict. Hmmm...that is certainly an interesting interpretation of the conflict of interest guidelines.
As we previously wrote, the rules regarding conflict of interest are fairly clear at the City of Vancouver. According to section 4.2 of the City's official code of conduct:
A conflict exists when an individual is, or could be, influenced, or appear to be influenced, by a personal interest, financial (pecuniary) or otherwise, when carrying out their public duty. Personal interest can include direct or indirect pecuniary interest, bias, pre-judgment, close mindedness or undue influence...
When considering whether or not a conflict of interest exists, it is important to consider whether there are any grounds for a reasonable person to think that a conflict exists.
After listening to both Louie and Anton make their case, a hoarse sounding Mayor Robertson declared that he sided with his caucus colleague and determined there was no conflict. End of story.
Sometimes in politics, these types of issues are best resolved in the court of public opinion...or perhaps at the ballot box.
- post by Daniel