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EDITORIAL: Code of conduct needed for elected officials

Codes of conduct are needed to ensure the government functions effectively and fairly
Four staff members at the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen were self-isolating on March 19. The regional district is also considering whether to continue keeping its doors open to the public. (John Arendt - Summerland Review) (Black Press file photo)

The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen has a new code of conduct for its elected officials.

The document covers the general conduct of elected officials, interactions with staff, volunteers and other elected officials, complaint handling and consequences for breaching the policy.

Standards of conduct for elected officials are nothing new.

Such standards are already in place for elected officials at the federal, provincial and local government levels. The regional district’s new code of conduct replaces an earlier document which has been in place since 2005.

In addition, professional ethics and standards of conduct are also in place for public service workers. Professions include physicians, dentists, teachers, lawyers, law enforcement workers, public servants and others.

All levels of government also have standards of conduct in place for their staff and employees.

And, in some municipalities, including Summerland, bylaws set out rules for decorum and conduct for members of the public attending council meetings. Cheering, booing, heckling or displaying placards can affect the procedure of a public meeting.

At every level of government, codes of conduct for elected officials and staff are needed to ensure the government functions effectively and fairly.

For professional workers, written, detailed standards of conduct are necessary to develop trust and maintain the integrity of the profession.

At the same time, the need for such codes of conduct is disappointing.

The 19-page document adopted by the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen lists numerous items that touch on honesty, integrity, fairness and respect. These values are or should be part of any properly functioning society.

These are standards one expects when dealing with others, and these should also be the standards one should expect of those who are seeking a role in a governing body.

Ethical standards of behaviour should be the norm.

– Black Press


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