sept. 23. 2020

Failing to ‘Speak with One Voice’ is Grounds for Removal

Béliveau v. Town of Sackville, 2017 NBCA 26 (CanLII)

A fundamental governance principle is that governing Boards or Councils should speak with one voice. When a decision has been made, individual Board or Council members should not speak against it publicly. Rather, they should simply explain the decision and reasons why it was reached and not get into their personal disagreement with the decision. Otherwise the credibility of the organization and its effectiveness in implementing initiatives is compromised. Board or Council members with significant concerns about the decision should either resign or, in some circumstances, bring the matter back for reconsideration based on new information through proper channels.

This principle received judicial support in Béliveau v. Town of Sackville, 2017 NBCA 26. In that case, a member of a heritage Board disagreed with the permission to demolish an older church in the downtown core. He then advocated against the Board’s decision before a separate appeal tribunal, going so far as to file an affidavit. He was removed from the Board. His challenge to the removal on the basis that he was a whistle-blower acting in his personal capacity was not accepted by the courts.