EDITORIAL – Chamber has serious egg on its face over hiring controversy

(Image: CFJC Today)

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

THE KAMLOOPS CHAMBER OF COMMERCE is one of the most respected business organizations in the country. It has a reputation for innovation and leadership — many of its ideas have been adopted as policy by senior levels of government.

Right now, though, the chamber is embarrassed, and deservedly so, after a weekend-long rank 4 social media firestorm over its hiring of a new executive director that was announced last Thursday and withdrawn Sunday.

The candidate was John Perks, touted as an accomplished non-profit sector administrator and a creative thinker. But hard on the heels of the announcement, some Facebook posts by Perks raised questions about the choice.

They involved the sharing of memes expressing rightwing opinions of Muslims, climate change, immigrants and other topical issues.

Perks, who was supposed to start work today, explained he only posted them as examples of the kind of thinking that should be rejected. He acknowledged the posts could be “taken out of context.”

Chamber president Joshua Knaak at first defended the hiring, saying the posts didn’t reflect “the entirely of the person,” to use a quote from a CFJC Today story.

But, even taking Perks and Knaack at face value, questions remained about the wisdom of sharing garbage on social media, even if you disagree with it. Communication, after all, is a big part of the chamber’s top job.

Yesterday afternoon, the board reversed itself and issued a terse news release saying Perks isn’t their guy after all.

It’s now the board who needs to answer a big question. How did it manage to screw up a hiring process so thoroughly that the preferred candidate is suddenly without the job he thought he had, and the chamber is left with Grade A egg all over its face?

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and newspaper editor. He publishes the opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at

About Mel Rothenburger (7716 Articles) 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 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.

3 Comments on EDITORIAL – Chamber has serious egg on its face over hiring controversy

  1. Robert A Bruce // March 25, 2019 at 10:25 AM // Reply

    All they did was show the right lean. Kinda as expected, after all they are a corporate face. But When I owned businesses in Kamloops, I found they did nothing for me, could do nothing for me, and it was all just a waste of time…..didn’t join then. No interest now.

  2. In a nutshell this demonstrates nearly everything wrong with our society. The most qualified candidate as determined by the hiring committee is thrown under the politically correct bus because he “dares” to have non-pc opinions on non-job related issues.

    What a pathetic abrogation of the foundation of freedom…freedom of thought. I hope Mr. Perks has the good sense to retain counsel and sues these virtue signaling emissaries of Stalinist group think for the maximum amount allowed by law.

    I hate to break it generation snowflake but progress and innovation always comes from challenging the status quo. What a horrifying example this sets for our youth and for young entrepreneurs seeking to shake things up and make their mark. Anyone who thinks this travesty is a positive development needs to carefully re-examine their assumptions.

    • Progress and innovation come from LIBERAL minds challenging the CONSERVATIVE status quo. It is OK to believe in old and tired paradigms and to hold on to dogma in one’s personal life. But becoming the “public face” of a varied group…that’s a totally different story, in my humble opinion.

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