Legal advice...worth it

Editorial

Wednesday, November 6 2019

Wherever people might sit in the discussions around the hiring of someone to take over as Gabriola’s Fire Chief - there is a good reason to ask if any of the Trustees have a conflict of interest with regards to the applicants who will be considered for the job.

It could mean, yet again, the Fire District Board finds itself - or at least it’s legal representatives - in a court room.

This past year, due to the appeal of the April 24 general election, the Board was challenged in BC Supreme Court.

Due to the decision made in that court room, there have been changes - positive ones - made to how the Fire District conducts elections.

But because election of new Trustees dragged through the summer, and into the fall, the Board did not move further forward on hiring a new Fire Chief.

As was pointed out by firefighter Kyle Clifford, if there is a conflict of interest, it could mean the Board is taken back into the court system if anyone feels there is a conflict of interest involved in whomever is selected as Gabriola’s next fire chief.

Delaying the process yet again.

And potentially costing the Fire District more legal fees.

The Trustees have said they do not believe any of them are in a position of conflict. 

The Trustees have not said whether any of them - or the hiring consultants - have obtained legal advice to make that determination.

Every conflict of interest legislation says that no matter what any guideline or regulation might state, conflict of interest can still be challenged through common law.

A penny spent is a dollar saved...and taxpayers the ones covering the legal bills. One hopes the Trustees are ensuring they have gotten advice on whether their legal representatives are going to be challenged after an applicant is selected.