On Cavers – freedom of speech doesn’t mean you have to use it

Armchair Mayor
By Mel Rothenburger
April 13, 2018 - 6:33am

KAMLOOPS — Now that we’ve had a couple of days to be indignant about Coun. Donovan Cavers’ latest faux pas, let’s try to figure out what it is, exactly, we’re indignant about.

On Wednesday, Cavers tweeted a dare to federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau to “go for it” on cancelling equalization payments (often referred to as transfer payments) to B.C. if this province doesn’t smarten up and toe the line over the Trans Mountain pipeline.

In the same tweet, Cavers published a map of Cascadia and said it was “looking pretty fit these days,” then wrapped up his rather scattered bit of messaging with “@JustinTrudeau Pull. Your. Head. Out. Of. Your. Montreal.”

It almost makes you wish Twitter would go back to 140 letters.

Anyway, the response has been less than positive. Everyone from Lianne Milobar (wife of MLA Peter Milobar), Lisa Lake (wife of former MLA Terry Lake), Lake himself, KCBIA president Mike O’Reilly to a whole lot of just-regular folks weighed in.

The opinions mostly ranged between describing his tweet as “disgraceful” and suggesting Cavers is unfit for office and should resign.

This isn’t the first time Cavers has been in hot water for the way in which he expresses his opinions — the infamous middle-finger salute to Ajax being the most vivid.

This latest episode is silly, maybe even childish, and certainly politically foolish.

It’s much less offensive than the comments one can find on social media any day of the week, whether about the prime minister or innocent bystanders. It is not, however, a good idea for a member of local government to tell the prime minister of the country to get his head out of his arse. Or his Montreal. Leave that to the Internet trolls. It’s incumbent upon City councillors to show respect for the office.

And while Cavers has every right to have strong disagreements with provincial and federal governments on issues like pipelines, he might consider being less confrontational in the way he does it.

There’s enough disrespect being thrown around between B.C. and Alberta, and Ottawa, as it is right now.

As for Cascadia, it’s a nutty idea that’s been floating around for years and will never get anywhere, but if Cavers likes it, that’s his right.

Where Cavers goes wrong is forgetting that when elected representatives speak, people listen. Even if what they’re talking about has nothing to do with their own particular elected office, the public judges such opinions as part of the whole.

Cavers can’t keep saying stuff that gets people upset and then saying afterward he was just kidding. He’s at his best when he stands up for the people who elected him on civic issues, and that’s what he should stick to doing.

None of what Cavers tweeted has any consequence except for what his detractors think of him. I’m pretty sure it didn’t wreck Bill Morneau’s or Justin Trudeau’s day, and B.C. is no more likely to leave confederation today than it was on Wednesday.

Which begs the question, what did Cavers hope to achieve? If he wanted to prove he has a right to free speech, he accomplished that, but nothing else. Having a right to say something doesn’t mean you should always say it.