Alberni council’s attack on own member shameful

First term councillor John Douglas proposed an increase in council's pay and benefits and was trounced for it.

Lines were drawn in the election sand on Monday as Port Alberni city councillors turned on one of their own before shooting down his motion for pay raises around the table.

Coun. John Douglas brought forward seven suggestions for a council “enhancement” package that included a pay raise as well as provision of cellphones and computers, compensation for acting mayor duties and a retirement benefit option.

While some would say the timing couldn’t be worse to bring up such a discussion—the city must soon pass a lean budget for 2011—council hasn’t considered pay raises since 2009. It was time to at least talk about it.

And they could have just said ‘no’.

Instead, veteran councillors cleverly diverted attention from the issue at hand by attacking the messenger and avoiding the message.

They also played down the fact that the 2009 freeze on a two-per-cent annual raise is over, and their paycheques are going to get a little bit fatter this year anyway.

Although it could be characterized as politically naive on Douglas’s part to advance this discussion at this time, he is a first-term councillor. Is this the kind of treatment that relatively new councillors can expect from their seasoned counterparts?

No wonder Douglas suggested higher pay. Perhaps he should have been asking for hazard pay instead.

Whether the motion was ill-timed or not, it deserved fair discussion in a public field—not the personal attack that it became.