WESTVILLE – The Town of Westville now has its own communication policy.
Council approved the policy Monday stating the mayor is the official spokesperson for the town and will speak about council’s official position on issues.
It goes on to say the mayor may designate another elected official to serve as spokesperson on a particular issue or in the case of critical significance, the mayor will work with council, the chief administrative officer to develop a communications plan to detail the known facts of the situation and summarize the town’s position.
The mayor and council may express their own views, but can’t be reflective of the views or opinions of council.
“The intention is not to stifle council,” said Deputy Mayor Lynn MacDonald.
Councillor Lennie White said it is important as individual members that councilors are able to voice their opinion.
MacDonald raised the need for a communication policy during a previous council meeting after a media release was issued by Pictou County resident Tyler Cameron on Mayor Roger MacKay’s decision in February not to take a pay raise.
At the time, council voted in favour of pay increases for council members, but MacKay voted against it. In May, the issue was brought up again by MacKay and once again council refused this request to return his pay back to the pre-raise levels.
Shortly after the May meeting, a press release stating MacKay’s objection to the raise was sent out by Cameron, who was labeled as a “communication advisor ” on a national news broadcast.
MacDonald took issue with the press release at June meeting saying that Cameron is not an employee of the town and has no right to be issuing anything on council’s behalf.
“I know this is a learning process, but this should have come for the CAO or just yourself,” she said at the June meeting. “You have to respect us as a council and tell us this type of thing is coming out. That is what a communication policy is all about.”
MacKay told council in June that he was unaware of the press release that Cameron sent out and that he spoke to media on his own.
Cameron meanwhile maintains that it was not a release, but rather the statement Roger read word for word at council making it public record.
“With politicians hitting the headlines for less then honorary behaviour as of late I thought it was important folks knew about this good news story,” Cameron said. “Not many politicians say no to a raise.
“I believe there is many more pressing issues for Council to focus on than who forwarded a piece of public information.”
Council agreed there was a need for a communication policy in June and passed the policy during Monday’s meeting.