This Monday’s special Council Meeting dealt with the aftermath of the resignations of Wolfgang Duntz and Daron Jennings received on Friday March 14. In their resignation letters Mr. Duntz and Mr. Jennings quoted potential conflict of interest scenarios in relation to rezoning and future developments of lands owned by them or the Bowen Island Municipality now or in the future. Three aspects to this development are worth of further investigation:
1. What took Mr. Duntz and Mr. Jennings so long to realize this potential conflict of interest in their role as elected Council members?
2. Why now?
3. Where does this leave the electorate, especially those voters who put their trust and faith in Mr. Duntz and Mr. Jennings when they voted for them in 2011?
As evidenced in the archived minutes of meetings in the period from 2012 – 2013 Mr. Duntz recused himself an astonishing 26 times from voting in Council Meetings because of a conflict of interest. Mr. Jennings follows as a close second with 24 declarations.
In the same period Stone steps out 9 times, Cro Lucas 5 times, and Morse and Rhodes declare only 2 and 1 conflict of interest respectively.
The Conflict of Interest Act is rather specific in its explanation of what constitutes a conflict and that it is not enough to simply abstain from voting. A conflict of interest also precludes the participation in any related debate and discussion designed to inform a subsequent vote. At least in one case Mr. Duntz appears to have violated the Act. After “doing a tremendous amount of work” on the dock bylaw Mr. Duntz recused himself only very late in the game from voting on the issue.
With Mr. Duntz’s and Mr. Jennings’ resignation 30% of the elected Council have disappeared. Jointly they signified a substantial number of voters that are now left without representation. Combined with the quoted conflict of interest scenarios this development constitutes nothing less than a political landslide of massive proportions.
The few public participants at Monday’s Special Council meeting were treated to a well scripted but poorly rehearsed show. While the CAO had prepared well-structured recommendations of how to deal with this crisis the Councilors appeared overeager to get quickly through the required resolutions.
As a voter and citizen I cannot help but feel betrayed by the way this scenario has been handled by Council and I am especially outraged regarding the precluded resolution not to hold by-elections to replace the 2 vacated seats. I am sure other voters feel the same way and I would like to encourage everyone to make their voices heard.
Regarding the conflict of interest scenarios, time will tell.