Team Delta mayoral candidate Sylvia Bishop. (James Smith photo)

Bishop says Delta mayoral opponent has ‘much to learn’ about public service

Bishop calls George Harvie’s response to councillors’ scrutiny ‘overly-sensitive’ and ‘disproportionate’

Mayoral candidate Sylvia Bishop says her opponent’s reaction to criticism shows he “has much to learn about both public service and public accountability.”

In a letter submitted to the North Delta Reporter on Oct. 5, Bishop responded to comments made by rival candidate George Harvie at a press conference last month and quoted in an article published online Sept. 27 and in print Oct. 4.

The press conference and story centred around Harvie’s response to assertions made by candidates with two opposing slates — Bishop’s Team Delta and mayoral hopeful Jim Cessford’s Independents Working for You — that he acted without council’s authority when attending a meeting in March 2013 with Metro Vancouver representatives regarding the regional authority’s issuing of an air quality permit for the Enviro-Smart Organics composting facility in East Ladner.

At the press conference, Harvie laid out evidence supporting his claim that he attended the meeting with the full knowledge and blessing of council and that he at no time pushed for Metro Vancouver to “just grant Enviro-Smart everything.”

“I take great exception to rival mayor and council candidates Sylvia Bishop, Robert Campbell, Jim Cessford, Bruce McDonald and Jeannie Kanakos continuing a baseless and shameful attack on my character and record of public service for the citizens of Delta,” Harvie said on Sept. 27. “My opponents working together have now sunk to an all-time low, moving instead from the issues of the day that affect the community of Delta to a personal attack on my character, dignity and leadership. I will not take this assault any longer.”

READ MORE: Delta mayoral candidate Harvie hits back against ‘personal attack’

In her letter to the editor, Bishop called Harvie’s response “overly-sensitive” and “disproportionate,” adding “public scrutiny is essential to public service.”

Bishop outlined the actions taken at council by herself, Campbell, Kanakos and McDonald, all of whom are candidates in the upcoming election, and went on to say that all of the candidates named except for Harvie have “considerable experience as publicly-elected representatives.”

“I believe this largely explains Mr. Harvie’s exaggerated, overly-sensitive response to questions regarding his conduct as a city employee. He seems to have no concept — or, to be charitable, is simply unaware — of what it means to be accountable to the public,” Bishop wrote.

“Being a servant of the public means listening to voters and taxpayers, it means subverting one’s own ego to the best interests of our community, and it means graciously — if not happily — accepting criticism and scrutiny.

“As the Oct. 4 story in the North Delta Reporter sadly shows, Mr. Harvie has much to learn about both public service and public accountability.”

The civic election will take place on Oct. 20, with advance voting on Oct. 6, 10 and 11.

Below is Bishop’s full letter to the editor (note, the following has been edited to conform with Canadian Press style):

Re: “Harvie hits back against ‘personal attack’ by opponents

Dear editor(s):

I am a two-term councillor with seven years’ elective experience on Delta’s city council, currently seeking election as mayor. My letter is in response to the North Delta Reporter story published Oct. 4 under the title “Harvie hits back against ‘personal attack’ by opponents.”

In the story, George Harvie, Delta’s former city manager — who never has held elective office but currently is a candidate for mayor — claimed that public scrutiny of his actions while working as a city employee was “nasty politics,” “baseless,” “shameful,” and most surprisingly, “a personal attack on my character, dignity and leadership.”

My response to Mr. Harvie’s overly-sensitive, disproportionate response is this: Public scrutiny is essential to public service!

Mr. Harvie’s actions as a Delta city employee became a topic of public interest in mid-August when a letter written by Metro Vancouver’s chair, Greg Moore, to the current Delta Mayor, Lois Jackson, revealed that an un-named Delta official had “strenuously objected” to an air-quality permit for Enviro-Smart, the Ladner composting facility whose foul odour has long irritated nearby residents.

It soon became known that Mr. Harvie was the un-named official, and soon thereafter a second Metro Vancouver document — an internal memo written by environmental manager Ray Robb — publicly released stated that Mr. Harvie also had opposed “the notion of any public consultation” regarding Enviro-Smart’s air permits or solid waste licences.

Mr. Harvie responded by stating that the “public record shows that I received direction from city council….” This statement surprised the elected members of council, and in response four councillors — Robert Campbell and I (both members of Team Delta), as well as Jeannie Kanakos and Robert McDonald — requested additional information and/or proposed remedial action.

Mr. Campbell asked Mr. Harvie to produce any documentation that might support his assertion, and he also submitted a Freedom of Information request to Metro Vancouver so as to obtain any additional information.

I held a news conference and outlined an “Action Plan for Ethical Local Government,” whereby Delta could prevent future abuses of authority by either elected officials or un-elected senior managers.

Mr. Harvie responded, as stated above, by declaring our actions “nasty” and “a personal attack.”

To be clear, all of the individuals referred to in this letter now are candidates for public office — Mr. Harvie and I are running for mayor, while Mr. Campbell, Ms. Kanakos and Mr. McDonald are seeking re-election as councillors. All of us, except for Mr. Harvie, have considerable experience as publicly-elected representatives.

I believe this largely explains Mr. Harvie’s exaggerated, overly-sensitive response to questions regarding his conduct as a city employee. He seems to have no concept — or, to be charitable, is simply unaware — of what it means to be accountable to the public.

Being a servant of the public means listening to voters and taxpayers, it means subverting one’s own ego to the best interests of our community, and it means graciously — if not happily — accepting criticism and scrutiny.

As the Oct. 4 story in the North Delta Reporter sadly shows, Mr. Harvie has much to learn about both public service and public accountability.

Sincerely,

Sylvia Bishop

SEE ALSO: 43 candidates running in Delta civic election



editor@northdeltareporter.com

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