As the Ontario government launches a new round of consultations surrounding municipal codes of conduct, Collingwood council is offering up the recommendations from the judicial inquiry as part of the discussion.
The province announced on March 5 it is working on strengthening municipal codes of conduct and accountability for council members.
Simcoe North MPP Jill Dunlop will be leading the consultations in her role as associate minister of children and women’s issues. Based on the news release from the province, the discussions will be about preventing workplace harassment and upholding “shared values of respect, equity, equality, and fairness for all people of Ontario.”
After learning of the initiative, Mayor Brian Saunderson reached out to Dunlop.
“She indicated the terms of reference and the scope had not yet been determined so there was still time to include our concerns and the recommendations from Justice (Frank) Morocco,” said Saunderson.
At a March 15 meeting, council members unanimously supported a motion from Mayor Saunderson to ask the province to expand the scope of the consultations and include some of the 306 recommendations made by Justice Marrocco in his final report.
Marrocco was the commissioner of the Collingwood Judicial Inquiry called by council to investigate the 2012 share sale of 50 per cent of COLLUS to Powerstream, and the subsequent decisions to spend the share sale proceeds to build two fabric membrane structures for the Centennial Aquatic Centre and Central Park Arena.
The hearings for the inquiry took place over 2019 and the final report was released in November, 2020.
“Certainly the timing [of the provincial consultations] from our perspective is extremely good and we’re very much hoping they will broaden the scope to look at issues Justice Marrocco identified,” said Saunderson.
Included in the report are several recommendations for changes to the municipal act for council and staff roles and relationships, codes of conduct, the role of the integrity commissioner, and implementing whistleblower policies and protection for municipal staff.
All of those issues, Saunderson hopes will be included in the upcoming provincial discussions.
“I think it’s right on point and it would make a great deal of sene for the province to include it … and I think come up with a much more complete consultation and a better result,” said the mayor.
The town will be sending a letter to Dunlop and Premier Doug Ford today to set out the motion passed by council last night and itemize the aspects of the commissioner’s report the town would like included in the terms of reference.
“Hopefully there will be a follow-up dialogue and, when they announce the scope of the consultation, these issues will be included,” said Saunderson.
Some of Marrocco’s recommendations surrounding municipal codes of conduct are as follows:
- Council members must discharge their duties in a manner that not only promotes public confidence in the integrity of the individual council member, but also fosters respect for council as a whole
- Council members shall not use the influence of their office for any purpose other than for the exercise of their official duties
- Council members should not falsely or maliciously injure the professional or ethical reputation of any staff member
- No council member shall use or attempt to use their authority or influence to threaten, coerce, intimidate, command, or otherwise influence any staff member with intent of interfering with that person’s duties