Resignation only option
Former Souris Mayor David MacDonald said he had no choice but to resign. Actually, he did. He stepped down Friday morning, several days after a bizarre verbal attack on a former resident who raised a legitimate public concern. Mr. MacDonald had a choice to retract and stay. Instead, he suggested it was the former resident who should apologize for abusive behaviour inside town hall.
As mayor of the town, he had a civic duty to deal with the matter professionally. When he could not discharge his duties in that manner, resignation was the only option.
It all started innocently enough. The former resident was back home on a visit and voiced his concerns about debris — specifically glass — strewn along the Souris beach.
The normally diplomatic mayor became angry when he heard details of the complaint raised at town hall.
What happened or was said at town hall isn’t the issue. The complaint the man raised was valid. The Souris beach is a popular area for residents and visitors and there was an obvious health hazard. Something had to be done.
When given a second chance by this newspaper to clarify or tone down his remarks, Mr. MacDonald was even more belligerent. He launched into a Trumpian tirade.
It was out of character. The former teacher is well known for posing sports trivia questions to anyone he meets, more often than raising municipal issues. As an educator, he is aware of the devastating impact of bullying issues in school.
It’s an unfortunate end to a long, successful career as mayor. He was usually diplomatic when it came to dealing with the province, subscribing to the theory it was best to walk softly and carry a big stick. In recent years he was more vocal and outspoken in his criticisms of the government — and with good reason.
Many of them dealt with health issues in Eastern Kings — the future of the Souris hospital, the attempted closure of the dialysis unit, the replacement for Colville Manor, reduced doctor numbers and ambulance service. Then there was a prolonged fight over the K to 12 school — renovation vs. a new building — and a new Souris bridge were all on his plate.
He lost some battles and won his fair share. But he always fought passionately for his town.
There was little public support for the mayor from council or residents. Really, what was there left to say? A special meeting was held Friday where council quietly accepted his resignation. To his credit, Mr. MacDonald realized his options were zero and for the good of the town, the end was surgical and quick.
Councillors made it clear that the comments were not representative of council or the town of Souris. Council was quick with damage control, offering an apology to anyone offended by the published comments from the former mayor.
Even as he stepped down, there was no regret or remorse but rather some finger-pointing. Don’t blame the messenger for reporting the facts.