EDITORIAL: Change in law up to citizens

Noble intention doesn’t serve system facing funding shortfalls.

Trustee-elect Donna Allen raises a valid point about whether election candidates with a criminal record should be allowed to run for public office.

As it stands, election laws only prevent people actively serving prison time from running for public office.

People with convictions for drug possession, assault or drunk driving can serve alongside others with a squeaky-clean record.

Allen has such a problem with this that she resigned her post prior to being sworn in as trustee – an irresponsible move, despite her noble intentions.

At some point, Allen became aware that one of her new colleagues, Bill Bard, had a criminal record for drug possession.

Allen decided that she could not work with Bard on the Nanaimo school board while pursuing changes to election laws.

At best, Allen did a disservice to the people who voted for her to represent the interests of Nanaimo’s public education system.

At worst, she might cost the school district up to $100,000 for a byelection – taking badly needed money from teachers and students in a system that Allen herself describes as underfunded.

Bard was duly elected under the terms set forth by provincial legislation. He was under no obligation to declare his past crime, for which he paid his debt to society and by his own account, is set to be pardoned.

Now that Allen raised the issue, however, it’s up to the citizens of Nanaimo and the rest of B.C. to decide whether Bard or any election hopeful should have to declare a criminal record in future elections.

If the public decides it’s an issue worth pursuing, people need to mount a campaign to have the existing law changed.

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