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EDITORIAL: Standing out in a crowd


People elected to office sometimes offer the comment that, in theory at least, they’re on the job 24/7.

That’s because at any time, day or night, on vacation or not, they could get a call from someone they represent who has a problem or a complaint.

And that’s why they get paid the big bucks, some might respond.

At any rate, handsome reward or not, there’s much truth to their claim. It can also apply to municipal politicians, who in many cases don’t enjoy great remuneration. But some recent turbulence in a neighbouring municipality is illustrating how elected people are on the job anytime and anywhere.

A tempest is brewing in Colchester County over allegations of municipal councillors having made comments that some who overheard interpreted as racist. Council there is now seeking guidance on proper conduct for its elected people – certainly a wise course of action for any body of people in the public eye.

Two Colchester councillors were allegedly overheard in conversation in a restaurant in Truro, with another member of the public. Some of their discussion, as reported by another person in the restaurant, included racist comments made about Muslims.

They’re perhaps not officially about their duties in such a milieu, but an elected representative in a small town – or anywhere for that matter – is often readily recognizable. They can expect even off-the-cuff comments to reflect on their character and perhaps on how they would carry out their job or treat their own constituents.

The concerns were not limited to this one incident, however. In fact, one member of the council has resigned over what he described as events involving racist and inappropriate remarks from someone else on council.

Because of the incidents and allegations, the council has voted to have staff consult the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities Code of Conduct. They will also seek information from the Canadian Coalition of Municipalities Against Racism and Discrimination. The ultimate to look into possibly adopting such a code of conduct for members.

This story serves as a good reminder of what goes into serving as an elected official. By and large the people who run for any kind of office are community minded and interested in seeing improvements and that things run smoothly in their particular jurisdiction.

They can also take some heat when there’s division in a municipality over some project or development.

For all that, they deserve congratulations for taking on a task that the majority of residents would just as soon leave to someone else.

But another part of the whole exercise is that they are often highly recognizable when out rubbing shoulders with the crowd. They do serve the community – and that is the larger community, one that’s diverse and growing in diversity year after year. Decorum is an essential part of that job description.

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