Sticking out in the crowd of recreation initiatives and public service announcements on the Town of Inuvik’s Facebook page was a politically charged suggestion early Saturday, Oct. 7.
“After how many tragedies will they wake up, open their ears, and listen?” the Town of Inuvik wrote while sharing a video from a news page, Empirically, showing former U.S. President Barack Obama responding to a question on gun laws, advocating for stricter regulations.
Any readers would immediately wonder, is this the official opinion of the Town of Inuvik?
And why is a small town in the NWT pontificating on a political subject in a different country?
Every individual is free to have opinions and express them, but using the platform of the official Town of Inuvik Facebook page is a strange place to do so, especially when it’s the town making a political comment about a different country altogether.
Fortunately, it was posted in error.
Chris Sharpe, marketing and communications officer for the town, said someone in another department who was an editor of the Facebook page mistakenly posted it to the town’s.
Sharpe subsequently deleted the post Tuesday morning and the person who posted it lost access to the town’s page.
“It wasn’t supposed to be posted,” said Sharpe.
He said that town employees should air their political views in different ways.
“The town should definitely stay neutral when it comes to these kinds of things, as everybody has their own political views,” said Sharpe. “At the end of the day, this platform shouldn’t be used for that.”
It’s a good reminder of the importance of unbiased government bureaucracy.
Council members can certainly decide to make statements on whatever issues they like through regular meetings, but the bureaucratic arm of a government should not cross the line and slide into politics.
Politicians fight in the realm of politics, but the bureaucracy serves the citizens. It has to be an unbiased entity.
Citizens must not feel that the government bureaucracy thinks differently of them or will treat them differently depending on their political views. That leads to a dangerous conflict of interest in town disputes or services.
It’s also an abuse of taxpayers, who pay for the town’s infrastructure and the salary of the person airing their own views with it.
Even if you personally agree with what the town wrote about guns, imagine it on the other foot, with the town making a post implicating that people who want more restrictions on guns have their ears shut and refuse to listen.
There’s no good to come from this kind of misuse of taxpayer-funded infrastructure.
Sharpe and the town should be commended for adhering to a principle of integrity by deleting the post and dealing with the mistake in-house.
A Facebook post isn’t the end of the world, but it serves as a good reminder.
It’s important to know that our town staff, though they are as free as anyone to have personal views, treat their government business from an objective perspective.