Date: Sat, Dec 7, 2013 at 6:59 PM
Subject: Bruce Banman, mayor of Abbotsford advertising for a private business, the ‘Abbotsford News’.
To: conflictofinterest@coibc.ca, Andrew Holota <aholota@blackpress.ca>, “deJong.MLA, Mike” <Mike.deJong.MLA@leg.bc.ca>, Darryl <Darryl.Plecas.MLA@leg.bc.ca>, sgibson <Sgibson@abbotsford.ca>

Hello folks:  Having scrolled through some BC Government websites, I think that I can address my questions to you at the Conflict of Interest office.

Someone sent me this attached video showing the mayor of Abbotsford doing an ad for the ‘Abbotsford News’, and I’ll send you the comments I sent to our local MLAs, Darryl Plecas, Mike de Jong and Simon Gibson.

Media need not be adversarial to politicians and their work, but neither should our elected politicians be engaged in things that create an indebtedness to private interests.  It is my contention that the Abbotsford News has paid Bruce Banman in valuable exposure, worth for more than if they had cut him a cheque, something I highly doubt they would do.  And I believe this creates a far too cozy relationship between the mayor and the media.   (excerpt from The Oath of Office,….1 I will truly, faithfully and impartially, to the best of my knowledge, skills and ability, execute the office of ………………………………… [insert name of office] to which I have been appointed for ………………… [insert name of municipality of regional district for which officer is appointed].

2 I have not received and will not receive any payment or reward, or any promise of payment or reward, for the exercise of any partiality or other improper execution of my office.)

I’ve looked through your policy guide – for some guidance, which is very detailed, so would like a clear, straight answer from about provincial oversight, since municipalities operate with the permission of the Province.

Is it legally or ethically right for Bruce Banman, in his position as mayor of Abbotsford to do this advertisement for the now, only print media in town?

If your answer to that is ‘yes’, then does it follow that the mayor of a town in BC has it as his mandate to do personal advertising for a local Audi dealer, followed by the local Ford dealer, then logically followed by demands from Starbucks, Wal-mart……..?

Please provide me with the pertinent sections of legislation covering municipal affairs, as to the rightness or wrongness of the Banman/News video.

If there is a different department to whom this should be sent, would you notify me and forward it to the correct people.

Thank you.

Gerda Peachey

To: Bruce Banman <mayor@abbotsford.ca>, mgill <Mgill@abbotsford.ca>, bmacgregor <Bmacgregor@abbotsford.ca>, lbarkman <Lbarkman@abbotsford.ca>, pross <Pross@abbotsford.ca>, sgibson <Sgibson@abbotsford.ca>, “Dave Loewen (Councillor)” <dfloewen@abbotsford.ca>, hbraun@abbotsford.cagmurray@abbotsford.ca

 

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Gerda Peachey <gerdapeachey@gmail.com>
Date: Fri, Dec 6, 2013 at 12:06 AM
Subject: Bruce Banman (mayor) doing a promotional video for the Abbotsford News
To: council@bcpresscouncil.org

 

Thanks for responding Rollie:  I will do as you suggest and ask the Canadian Advertising Standards council to consider the ethics of our mayor doing advertising for a private enterprise.
The Abbotsford News is a business, and as such has a right to promote itself in order to stay competitive and lucrative.  So from that angle, who can fault them for using the current mayor of Abbotsford to do a promotional video for them.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-gxrregd_pI

But in terms of a media independent of ‘political masters’, it is appalling to witness the cozy financial relationship between the City and the News.

Can we even hope for clear discernment and honest analysis of council decisions from a newspaper that reaps enormous monetary gain from the City.
The News got a lot of ‘city page’ ads as well as entire segments promoting the ‘Abbotsford Heat’ – a privately-owned hockey team with millions coming from our taxes to subsidize them.  Advertising for ‘the Heat is ubiquitous in our city, with most of it in the News.
The, just now,  gone defunct competitor, the Times, did not appear to reap any of this largesse, authorized by council.  Could that have contributed to their demise?  Should the ‘other‘ paper in town have shared the wealth, and should mayor Banman have done ads to promote the Times?

The crass exploitation of the mayor of this city in the attached video, most certainly crosses a line for Bruce Banman.  One respondent to my email on this thought it might be okay, as long as he was not paid for his time.  But of course he is paid for this video. The pay is far more than a paltry few bucks for his time.  The pay is in extremely valuable exposure and in having favor with the now only newspaper in town.  Someone in the media told me this video was played at ‘Abbotsford Heat’ games, just to give one example.

 
When the November, 2014 election rolls around, who will our ‘independent’ newspaper favor for the position of mayor?  Will it be the agreeable, pliable one currently available to them.  The media has enormous power to influence public opinion.
 
Vote buying is illegal, but seeing Mr. Banman using his position to ingratiate himself and get more face-time exposure while blatantly advertising for a private company has, in my opinion, degraded the position of mayor,  is an abuse of his position, and in my opinion is unethical.
 
So while the Press may have no legal requirement to resist using politicians to further their own ends, maybe you at the Press Council might reflect on a higher purpose – like truthful, probing, courageous and independent reporting of the news.
 
That’s asking for a lot in a cut-throat world of business, but I hope you will look at this video as having crossed an obvious line that threatens your independence from political interference.
 

Hello Gerda,
    Sorry, but the Press Council is not mandated to consider these kinds of complaints. We judge all complaints against our published Code of Practice and there is nothing in the Code about this. As well, it is your opinion, valid, perhaps, but nevertheless opinion.
     The video is an ad and advertising complaints are outside the Press Council jurisdiction and should be directed to the Canadian Advertising Standards council.  Your concerns might also be directed to the Abbotsford News and the mayor.
    Rollie Rose,
    Executive Director.  council@bcpresscouncil.org

http://www.cscd.gov.bc.ca/lgd/policy_research/library/lga_guide_municipal.pdf

http://www.newsroom.gov.bc.ca/ministries/office-of-the-premier/

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