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OUR VIEW – Harassment of elected officials threatens democracy

Protecting our democracy requires ensuring elected officials can serve without fear of intimidation

Elected officials are increasingly facing harassment and threats from constituents, raising concerns about the safety of public servants and the health of our democracy. These incidents, ranging from racially charged tirades to violence threats, go beyond mere disagreement and create a hostile environment that discourages potential candidates and weakens representation.

A recent incident in Langford, where a council member was targeted at their home, exemplifies the escalating nature of this issue. Mayor Scott Goodmanson rightly condemned the behaviour, emphasizing the need for “productive civil discourse” instead of resorting to “incivility and aggression.”

It’s crucial to remember that elected officials are not public punching bags. They deserve to feel safe and respected, just like any other citizen. While frustration and anger regarding specific policies or decisions are understandable, expressing dissent through intimidation and threats is never acceptable. Established channels exist for voicing concerns, such as attending council meetings, writing letters, or engaging in peaceful protests.

Local authorities are responsible for ensuring the safety of elected officials and staff. This includes providing adequate security measures at council meetings, thoroughly investigating threats, and holding perpetrators accountable.

However, addressing this issue requires a collective effort. Fostering a culture of civility and respect is essential. Leaders at all levels, including community figures and media outlets, should actively condemn harassment and promote respectful dialogue. We, as citizens, must hold ourselves and others accountable for upholding respectful discourse.

Protecting our democracy requires ensuring elected officials can serve without fear of intimidation and that our communities have healthy democratic spaces where diverse voices can be heard and decisions can be made constructively. Let’s work together to ensure that harassment has no place in our political discourse.

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