EDITORIAL: A failure to communicate

When it comes to governments of all levels, communication with residents is key – no matter the issue.

It’s become a go-to phrase for all levels of government – local, provincial and federal.

When faced with fallout from an unpopular decision – or simply dissatisfaction with the way that a certain sequence of events shakes out – politicians and bureaucrats seem to all have the same default position: “In hindsight, we could have done a better job with communication.”

While this would beg questions about all the communications officers drawing publicly funded salaries across the land, the public’s patience grows wearier each time this particular communication is used.

The fact is, no matter how large or small the public-relations budget, a culture that keeps taxpayers in the loop on evolving decisions is something that comes from the top down. So is a culture that, through an absence of information or condescending announcements only once a decision has been made, leads taxpayers to suspect they are being governed in an unresponsive, dictatorial manner, and, more than likely, misled.

Suspicion of politicians and bureaucrats runs so rampant these days that it is far from wise policy for anyone in government to allow such a situation to continue – particularly when much criticism could be averted simply by taking a more inclusive approach. Too often, it seems, a craven fear of criticism only guarantees it will take place.

Imagine how such ‘leaders’ would feel if the people working for them kept them in the dark about decisions made on their behalf.

Naturally, in the process of governing or administrating, there is some information that is sensitive for reasons of confidentiality or legality, and which cannot be shared indiscriminately. The public, generally speaking, is not asking for this. Nor is the public asking for glossy brochures, dazzling photos or press releases giddy with spin.

Straightforward summary of progress on issues would be good, however. As well, we would welcome a sense that those in office believe public consultation is about more than scheduling the legally required meetings and checking the requisite number of boxes.

It may come as news to some, but in Canada we still don’t elect politicians or hire bureaucrats to act in a vacuum. It is called ‘public office’ and ‘public service’ for a reason.

Most employers would agree that employees acting unchecked could create a dangerous precedent that would either undermine operations or lead to discipline or dismissal of the workers concerned.

Do public servants deserve to be held to a different standard?

Just Posted

Surrey Mountie won’t face charges for scooter scuffle

The Surrey-based IIO has decided not to forward the case to Crown counsel for review

High-risk sex offender released into Surrey

Earon Wayne Giles, a Newton “tag-team rapist,” was released from prison Friday and is now living in Surrey

Pedestrian seriously injured in Surrey traffic crash

A 54-year-old man was hit by a car early Thursday evening while crossing Highway 10 at 152nd Street

VIDEO: Nature provides practice space for North Delta musician

Terry Lee has become a fixture over the years playing his cornet in and near the Delta Nature Reserve

WATCH: $76 million pledged for coastal flooding mitigation in Surrey and Delta

Six-lane bridge planned over South Surrey’s Nicomekl bridge

B.C.’s fight to regulate bitumen through pipelines to go to Canada’s top court

BC Appeal Court judges found B.C. cannot restrict bitumen flow along Trans Mountain pipeline

Burnaby facility to dispose of 1,500 tonnes of Canada’s trash from Philippines

All 103 containers will be disposed of properly within Canada before the end of the summer

Scheer says it would take Conservatives five years to balance budget

Scheeraccused the Liberal government of spending $79.5 billion of previously unbudgeted funds

Man wants guilty plea revoked in 2012 collision in Abbotsford that killed Chilliwack woman

Michael Larocque was charged in relation to crash that killed Eileen Kleinfelder

Vancouver woman sexually assaulted after man follows her home; suspect at large

Police are looking for an Asian man in his 40s after the incident on Vancouver’s east side.

B.C. man, 30, arrested for driving his parents’ cars while impaired twice in one day

The Vancouver-area man was arrested after officers caught him driving impaired twice in one day

UPDATE: Vancouver man dies after crash between motorcycle, transport truck

Police believe speed was a factor in Thursday collision

Trial slated to start Monday for accused killer of Abbotsford cop

Oscar Arfmann faces first-degree murder for death of Const. John Davidson

New airline regulations bring compensation for tarmac delays, over-bookings

Some of the new regulations will roll out in July, while others are expected for December.

Most Read

l -->