Editorial: Civility 

A lack of civility is an unfortunate hangover from the COVID pandemic. Local politicians – and even Tempo—have seen anger bubble up, in particular in emails. Politicians and municipal employees from the region, and not just in the Town of Brome Lake, report an increase in emails that bristle with anger and outright rudeness. This also stretches to phone calls and in-person confrontations with municipal employees and others. If the service is in any way paid for by the taxpayer, some people feel they can abuse the person offering the service. It is in many ways similar to bullying a waiter and other people who have a hard time defending themselves. 

“There has been a sharp increase in abusive, arrogant behaviour, a huge difference between 2019 before COVID and today,” says mayor Richard Burcombe. 

Many local municipalities will not respond to abusive requests by phone, email or in person. The Town of Brome Lake is no exception. “I will not respond to rude or disrespectful emails, and if a person starts yelling or is abusive on the phone, I tell them I will hang up if they do not stop,” says Burcombe. 

Post COVID there seems to be more conspiracy theories spread on the Internet. In many cases, there is an element of misogyny to complaints since there is agreement that some people find it easier to pick on women. 

There may indeed be reasons for the increased anger. Psychiatrists say the prohibitions of the pandemic have made some people irritable, and that is spilling into civic life. Let us hope that civility returns in our social interactions.