Mark Burnham | Sep 24, 2018
I have been a Councillor in Tay Valley for seventeen years. I have served for three terms from 1998 to 2006 and the for two terms from 2011 until now. This is the first time that I have written a letter to the editor, and I am doing so because I am truly concerned about the level of dialogue in our community.
In the fall of 2017, Council received an allegation of workplace harassment from staff. In accordance with our legal obligations, Council retained an independent investigator who met with all parties, reviewed the evidence and made a finding. He determined that one of our Council members, Judy Farrell, had engaged in harassment. Council then imposed certain requirements on Councillor Farrell that we designed to ensure a safe and harassment-free workplace going forward. We hoped, at the time, that Council had dealt with the issue and we would be able to put it to bed and get on with the important business of the municipality. That, unfortunately, was not what happened and now this has become a campaign issue. It has snowballed. Hurtful and negative comments are being published in the media about Township staff.
I have lived in Maberly for 28 years. Township staff live here as well; they are our neighbours. Township staff work hard in their various roles, responding to requests and ensuring that we comply with the rather complicated regulatory framework within which municipalities must operate. It is deeply troubling to me to see them experience very personal attacks that call into question their reputations and integrity. I have experienced nothing but expertise, professionalism and a strong desire to be of service from our staff.
I watch with increasing dismay, especially in American politics, as debate and dialogue have been replaced by rhetoric and destruction. Even here in Tay Valley, we are at risk of losing sight of civility and thoughtful discussion in government and politics. I am asking my community to please stop engaging in this harmful behaviour. We need to stop tearing others down and, instead, work together to continue to build our strong and vibrant community with all its natural assets.