City ap­points code of ethics in­tegrity com­mis­sioner and com­pli­ance com­mit­tee

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - Swift Current - BY MATTHEW LIEBEN­BERG— mlieben­[email protected]­t.com

The City of Swift Cur­rent has ap­pointed a for­mer RCMP of­fi­cer as in­tegrity com­mis­sioner to in­ves­ti­gate any code of ethics com­plaints that might be made against a coun­cil mem­ber.

Coun­cil­lors ap­proved a mo­tion at a reg­u­lar coun­cil meet­ing on Feb. 25 to ap­point Swift Cur­rent res­i­dent Har­vey Lo­max as in­tegrity com­mis­sioner un­til the end of the cur­rent coun­cil's term in 2020.

The mo­tion also ap­proved the im­me­di­ate ap­point­ment of Mayor De­nis Per­rault and coun­cil­lors Pat Friesen and Ryan Plewis as mem­bers of the City's com­pli­ance com­mit­tee. They will serve un­til the cur­rent coun­cil's term end in 2020.

The ap­point­ment of an in­tegrity com­mis­sioner and a com­pli­ance com­mit­tee are re­quired un­der the City's Code of Ethics By­law, which was ap­proved by coun­cil in 2017.

Lo­max is a re­tired RCMP of­fi­cer and a for­mer co­or­di­na­tor of the restora­tive jus­tice pro­gram in Swift Cur­rent, which is ad­min­is­tered by the Sal­va­tion Army.

“Mr. Lo­max is a well re­spected per­son in the com­mu­nity,” City Clerk Lee Ann Thi­bodeau-Hodg­son said after the meet­ing.

Coun­cil sug­gested a num­ber of po­ten­tial can­di­dates for the po­si­tion and Lo­max agreed to take on this duty when she ap­proached him.

“We're hop­ing that we won't re­quire him, but we should have some­one in place in the event that there is a com­plaint,” she said.

The Code of Ethics By­law out­lines the ba­sic eth­i­cal stan­dards and val­ues for mem­bers of coun­cil. It in­cludes a com­plaint pro­ce­dure with spe­cific du­ties for the in­tegrity com­mis­sioner and the com­plaints com­mit­tee.

“If a mem­ber of coun­cil or an em­ployee of the City has a com­plaint against a mem­ber of coun­cil, they can go to the in­tegrity com­mis­sioner and state their com­plaint,” Thi­bodeau-Hodg­son ex­plained. “At that point the in­tegrity com­mis­sioner will in­ves­ti­gate and then he/she will pro­vide a rec­om­men­da­tion to the com­pli­ance com­mit­tee.”

The in­tegrity com­mis­sioner can ex­am­ine any per­ti­nent ev­i­dence and in­ter­view any per­son with in­for­ma­tion that might be rel­e­vant to the in­ves­ti­ga­tion. He will then make a rec­om­men­da­tion to the com­pli­ance com­mit­tee to ei­ther dis­miss the com­plaint, to con­duct a hear­ing to de­ter­mine if a con­tra­ven­tion has oc­curred, or to make an ap­pli­ca­tion to the Court of Queen's Bench to dis­qual­ify the charged mem­ber from coun­cil.

The com­plaints com­mit­tee is re­spon­si­ble for con­duct­ing the hear­ing and for re­fer­ring the mat­ter to coun­cil if there is ev­i­dence of a con­tra­ven­tion of the Code of Ethics By­law. Coun­cil will then be re­spon­si­ble for de­cid­ing on an ap­pro­pri­ate penalty.

“If there is a com­plaint against one of them on the com­pli­ance com­mit­tee, that per­son will step aside and coun­cil will de­cide whether they want to hear the com­plaint, pro­ceed with just those two re­main­ing, or if they want to ap­point some­one else,” she said.

The Code of Ethics By­law only refers to the sub­mis­sion of a com­plaint against a mem­ber of coun­cil by a City em­ployee or by a fel­low coun­cil­lor. There is no men­tion in the by­law that a mem­ber of the pub­lic can sub­mit such a com­plaint to the in­tegrity com­mis­sioner.

“The by­law is silent on that, but I have con­sulted with the City's so­lic­i­tor and he has stated that if a mem­ber of the pub­lic did have an is­sue or a com­plaint, they could prob­a­bly step for­ward as well,” she said. “There are other en­ti­ties out there as well, such as the Om­buds­man, that will hear com­plaints as well and make rec­om­men­da­tions.”

The Code of Ethics By­law out­lines var­i­ous stan­dards and val­ues that mem­bers of coun­cil must ad­here to. They must be hon­est and ob­jec­tive, and they must make de­ci­sions fairly and im­par­tially. They must treat other mem­bers of coun­cil, mu­nic­i­pal em­ploy­ees and the pub­lic with dig­nity, un­der­stand­ing and re­spect.

They have to be trans­par­ent and ac­count­able, but at the same time they have to treat con­fi­den­tial in­for­ma­tion in an ap­pro­pri­ate way. They have to act in the best in­ter­est of the mu­nic­i­pal­ity and they can­not use their po­si­tion on coun­cil for per­sonal ben­e­fit.

They have to dis­close any ac­tual or po­ten­tial con­flicts of in­ter­est, and they can­not ac­cept a fee, gift or per­sonal ben­e­fit greater than $500. All coun­cil mem­bers must ob­tain their Safe Places cer­ti­fi­ca­tion within 60 days of their oath of of­fice and they have to main­tain this cer­ti­fi­ca­tion through­out their term of of­fice.

The full text of the Code of Ethics By­law is avail­able on the City of Swift Cur­rent's web­site at www.swiftcur­rent.ca

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