–by Britt Santowski
There seems to be some disagreement about who is Sooke’s Director on the CRD Board. Elected mayor Maja Tait had that appointment. Then she went on maternity leave. Now, there’s some talk that she no longer has it. The print papers all the way to Victoria are up in arms about the matter. Words have been exchanged. Feelings hurt. And I’m scratching my head, wondering what the heck the issue is. It is solidly documented: The appointment of Councillor Rick Kasper to Director, CRD was temporary.
On November 30, 2015, Acting Mayor Kevin Pearson introduced the topic of temporary appointments to serve as the CRD Director representing Sooke, to cover the period of our elected Mayor’s absence. Here are his exact words (emphasis added):
“With our mayor being on leave, we do not have a Director on the CRD Board, we have our alternate attending the Board. So, we need to have, in my opinion, we need to have a Director appointed until Maja comes back and then we need to have an alternate, because there’s no provision for an alternate alternate.”
The approved minutes from that meeting also document the temporary nature of this assignment:
“Acting Mayor Pearson advised that with Mayor Tait on maternity leave, Council will need to consider interim Municipal Director appointments to the Capital Regional District (CRD) Board. “
Overlooked was the obvious fact that an Alternate exists to step in when the Director can’t. And if you, dear reader, can spare three minutes and watch the linked video at the end (below), it will become clear that the Alternate is appointed because of their ability to be available in-an-instance to step in. That’s why Acting Mayor Pearson turned down the Alternate role; that’s why Councillor Bev Berger accepted. Considering that Council has known since July of 2015 that this was coming, ample notice was duly given. It was the Alternate’s job to clear his calendar for four meetings and step in as the, um, Alternate.
There’s also the values Canadians hold dear, mirrored through the Canadian Human Rights Commission: “Employees should return to the same job or a similar job, if the original job no longer exists.” While elected Mayor Tait is not an employee, it’s still a good idea to be guided by best practices. Eliminating components of a job while a new parent is away on leave, simply doesn’t reflect well on the rest of the team. It stands to reason that our elected mayor has the right to return to her position as she left it. And to paraphrase our Prime Minister, for goodness sake’s it’s 2016. This debate died sometime back before 1995 and has now simply become a matter of fact. It’s time for a few oldtimers to wake up, and catch up.
But really all that is academic, moot, irrelevant. The motion was clearly made and documented to appoint a new Director and Alternate, as an interim measure. Unless Council is interested in changing the text-book definition of “interim,” the elected mayor’s leave is now completed. Dear Council: She’s baaaa-ack. And it’s time for the interim appointments to end.
Next Committee of the Whole (COW) meeting is scheduled for Monday, April 11 at 6pm, followed by a regular Council Meeting at 7pm. It will be the elected mayor’s first COW and Council meeting since returning from her temporary maternity leave.
The public, as always, are invited and encouraged to attend.
- November 30, 2015 agenda
- Video of the council meeting, set to start at exactly this issue
- Approved minutes of the November 30, 2015 meeting
- Municipal calendar (meetings etc)
- Canadian Human Rights Commission: Policy on Pregnancy and Human Rights in the Workplace