Creating a formal policy
PETAWAWA – The town has developed a policy that will ensure that municipal resources are not used by incumbent councillors to get re-elected.
Under Bill 181, the Municipal Elections Modernization Act, municipalities and local boards had to establish rules and procedures with respect to the use of municipal or board resources during an election campaign period.
The new policy, passed by council recently, will provide direction to members of council and staff on the administration of corporate resources and council expense allowances with respect to election-related matters. It will ensure that public funds will not to be used for any election-related purposes, including the promotion of or opposition to the candidacy of a person for elected office.
“Previously the clerk’s department made sure municipal resources were not used during the election campaign period as a standard practice with no formal written policy,” said deputy clerk Dawn Recoskie.
Corporate resources are included within the definition of public funds, and further includes Town of Petawawa equipment, facilities, website access, and email address.
“There cannot be any advantage to a sitting member of council through some sort of electronic means or any other resource that is paid for by the corporation,” said chief administrative officer Dan Scissons.
Bill 181 has introduced several significant changes that will affect the October 2018 municipal elections across Ontario. The provincial government allowed each municipality to choose between utilizing the traditional first-pastthe-post system or a ranked ballot system for the upcoming election. The town will use electronic voting but retain the ballot which can be cast at the town office. Petawawa will also retain the first-past-thepost method. Scissons said incumbent councils have followed rules of fairness in the past so this is just a formalizing of the rules.
“From our perspective we have operated under the guise that council will govern itself accordingly and we have really had no issue with that,” he said. “Unfortunately the legislation has advanced to the point where we are forced to put something in writing.”