A week after Castlegar News reported that Mayor Bruno Tassone travelled during the holidays, Tassone resigned from office. In his letter of resignation, the Mayor of Castlegar said the work the community needs is greater than he can do. He also cited bullying from the media.
Tassone hasn’t been the only municipal politician in B.C. to be criticized for travelling during the holidays. Councillors in Metchosin, Victoria and West Vancouver have also had calls to step down after they travelled internationally, despite provincial health recommendations against non-essential travel.
In Tassone’s case, he didn’t travel internationally. He and his family went to their family-owned cabin near Mount Baldy. It’s around 200 kilometres from Castlegar and within the same health authority region. Tassone said his family made the decision to travel for mental health reasons. Although he said they did not stop during their trip to the cabin, his decision to travel was met with a divisive response both from the public and Castlegar city council members.
Kootenay Morning asked the B.C. Ministry of Municipal Affairs how many politicians have resigned during the pandemic and why. But the Ministry of Municipal Affairs does not track resignations of municipal-level politicians, and the Union of British Columbia Municipalities doesn’t either. In an email, a spokesperson for the ministry said there are many reasons why someone would resign from public office, and sometimes those reasons are confidential.
Kootenay Morning sent an email to the Nelson city council members to ask whether they travelled over the holidays. Couns. Cal Renwick and Keith Page responded, saying that they and their families stayed in Nelson. While we didn’t receive a response from the other council members, Page said he believes no one travelled. Listen to our interview with Page to get a politician’s perspective on the controversy, and what impact it could have on local politics and the community.