Res­ig­na­tion only op­tion

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - EDITORIAL -

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.

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