Ladies and gentlemen of the council of the Township of Brock:
It has been reported that you recently voted in favour to the new Brock Township social media policy. While much of the policy makes sense and outlines some common sense issues, I believe one of the sections deserves attention and comment. Specifically, Section 6.3.3: “Staff will not use their personal social media accounts to comment or question any of the Township of Brock’s policies, procedures and decisions of Council or senior staff on the basis that there are alternate mechanisms in place to address any concerns.”
My concern is with the issue of employees not being permitted, through social media, to question their elected representatives on Brock council. To remove through policy one of the mechanisms for a Township employee to exercise their democratic right to comment and question elected representatives is quite frankly very disturbing.
The second Fundamental Freedom outlined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is “freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication.”
To limit a person’s right under the Charter the limit must be “demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.” I do not believe that Brock council has done anything to justify removing this right from residents of Brock simply because they are employed by the Township. These employees pay property taxes, they live in Brock and are affected on a daily basis by the decisions made by council who are elected representatives of these employees.
To say these people have no right to comment on matters of public policy using social media because “there are alternate mechanisms in place to address any concerns” is irresponsible. According to this logic, council would find it palatable if an employee put a sign in their window declaring a council decision ‘to be stupid’ but the same comment on social media is apparently unacceptable.
You have done a great disservice to the rights of the employees of Brock Township. You have demonstrated, in my opinion, a complete lack of respect for your employees and fellow citizens. These employees/residents have every right through any legal process to offer their opinions, praise and criticisms of elected representatives and the policies they vote on (as I am doing right now).
A dark day in Brock Township indeed when such a fundamental right is treated in this way by our elected representatives.