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EDITORIAL – Cavers must start learning about the dignity of public office

Photo posted but since removed from Donovan Cavers’ Facebook page.

An ArmchairMayor.ca editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

“Posting an image of myself flipping the bird to KGHM was in poor taste. I apologize to anyone offended by my action. Passion badly expressed.”

— Donovan Cavers

HE SHOULDN’T have done it. Coun. Donovan Cavers needs to do some serious thinking about the way he conducts himself as an elected representative.

Once again, he’s had to apologize, this time for posting a photo of himself on Facebook giving Ajax the finger. More precisely, aiming his upraised middle digit toward a shelf full of KGHM Ajax binders.

Coun. Cavers says it was posted for Facebook friends only, but he and numerous other politicians should know from experience how easy it is for anyone to get into their Facebook page, friends or not.

On previous occasions, going back to when he was first elected, I’ve defended Cavers’ right to speak out. He has strong opinions, especially about Ajax, and he doesn’t hold back. He has guts.

But, on occasion, and this is one of them, he doesn’t think things through.

The issue isn’t about disrespect, it’s about bad taste. If you respect something, it means you admire it. If you disrespect it, you don’t. The proposed mine is bad for the community and clearly something Cavers doesn’t admire.

Neither is there any substance to the proposal that Cavers be censured by council for his actions, though technically he could be. City councils have the authority to censure their own members. It happens rarely, but it does happen. White Rock council once censured one of its own for releasing in-camera information, and Prince George considered doing it for the same reason but backed off. North Vancouver council censured its own mayor a couple of years ago for a letter he wrote to the chamber of commerce.

In Cavers’ case, there’s no appetite for censure, nor any good ground. The whole political situation, with a provincial election coming up and all, is just too messy to make it even messier.

Mayor Milobar has publicly ruled out censure even though he considered it a couple of years ago when Cavers was involved in a profanity-laced email exchange with staff.

Anyway, censuring a councillor accomplishes little more than expressing disapproval and maybe causing the offender some embarrassment. Milobar could remove Cavers from committees, and council could disqualify him from traveling on City business, but that would be on the extreme end of the scale.

In this case, council would be off base to even think about censure, since Cavers’ somewhat dramatic way of expressing disapproval of the mine wasn’t done in the context of conducting council business.

No, it’s not about being mean to Ajax or about what council can or can’t do about it; the problem is that Cavers hasn’t learned from experience.

He had to apologize for the email fracas, and was lambasted a year and a half ago when he posted a link to a story about “Sluts Against Harper,” a site that offered photos of nude men and women to those responding.

The trend is worrying. Refraining from crude gestures and use of the ‘F’ word isn’t too much to ask of City councillors. Donovan Cavers has much to offer, including a good brain and a passion for the good of the city. He shouldn’t put his causes at risk with ill-advised choices.

mrothenburger@armchairmayor.ca

 

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About Mel Rothenburger (4923 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

5 Comments on EDITORIAL – Cavers must start learning about the dignity of public office

  1. R A George // March 18, 2017 at 9:37 AM // Reply

    He,s young yet and uncorrupted by unmeant niceties.Time heals all.

  2. Sorry, I think Donovan needs some help.
    Of course, it could be a matter of the system having swallowed him and he is finding it tougher and tougher to negotiate the twists and turns expected of him in political life.
    He may be a fairly large fish in the pond of municipal politics but they guy simply won’t make it in Victoria.

  3. Remember when Prime Minister Trudeau gave the middle finger salute, told the opposition to F— Off (which he later claimed was “Fuddle Duddle”, and even swung like a monkey in Parliament to mock his opponents. Donovan is simply following Liberal precedent.

  4. The dignity of public office…to enrich oneself and associates?
    Or to linger with no purpose?
    Because “the bird” is not only a fingerly gesture…IMHO.
    Yet, I agree with you because of the implications as we are witnessing elsewhere.

  5. Agreed … bonehead move.
    He’s done it before, and he will likely do it again. At some point he will have a moment of clarity, and begin learning from his own experience, but not yet. I actually don’t have a huge problem with a municipal Councilor following their passion and getting it wrong at times. Makes for local fun.
    As MLA or MP though … much less tolerance for inappropriateness.

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