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Mono Council approves Code of Conduct

February 17, 2016   ·   0 Comments

Mono Council has followed Dufferin County Council and some other municipal councils in adopting a written Code of Conduct for its members.

Drafted by Planning Director Mark Early, the Code was prepared for Council in anticipation of the appointment of an Integrity Commissioner by the County.

In a memo to Council, Mr. Early said it is expected that the Commissioner will be available for use by the lower-tier municipalities for any alleged breaches of the Code. The bylaw “is very similar to the proposed Council Code of Conduct being prepared for County Council, which should provide ease of review and interpretation for the Integrity Commissioner, if any complaints or concerns are filed.”

He added while the Code won’t officially go into effect until the Commissioner is appointed, the document “sets out general standards and statements for Council to operate under, until such time as the Integrity Commissioner is appointed. Any complaints or alleged breaches of the Code of Conduct would be held in abeyance, until the Integrity Commissioner has been appointed.”

A preamble to the Code says a written Code of Conduct “helps to ensure the members of Council share a common basis for acceptable conduct. ”

The bylaw passed by Council Tuesday describes the Code as “a general standard  augments the provincial laws and municipal by-laws that govern conduct. It is not intended to replace personal ethics.”

Among its provisions:

• All members shall serve their constituents in a conscientious and diligent manner. No member shall use the influence of office for any purpose other than the exercise of their official duties.

• Members shall not accept fees, gifts, hospitality or personal benefits that are connected directly or indirectly with the performance of duties as Town Councillors, except compensation authorized by law. “This section does not apply to tokens, mementoes, souvenirs, or such gifts or benefits up to and including a value of $100.00 that are received as an incident of protocol or social obligation that normally accompanies the responsibilities of office. Tokens, mementoes, souvenirs or gifts with a value of greater than $100.00 shall be the property of the municipality.”

• No Member shall seek or obtain by reason of their office any personal privilege or advantage with respect to Town services not otherwise available to the general public and not consequent to their official duties.

A section on confidentiality states that “all information, documentation or deliberation received, reviewed or taken in closed session of Council and its committees are confidential, except as otherwise directed by Council. Members shall not disclose or release by any means to any member of the public either in verbal or written form any confidential information acquired by virtue of their office, except when required by law to do so. Members shall not permit any persons other than those who are entitled thereto to have access to information that is confidential.

It says particular care should be exercised in ensuring confidentiality of labour negotiations, information about suppliers provided for evaluation which might be useful to other suppliers, matters relating to the legal affairs of the Town, sources of complaints where the identity of the complainant is given in confidence, items under negotiation, and information defined as “personal information” under the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

A section titled Use of Town Property declares that  no member “shall use for personal purposes any Town property, equipment, supplies, or services of consequence other than for purposes connected with the discharge of municipal duties or associated community activities of which Town Council has been advised. Personal use of Town-issued devices such as an iPad, a laptop or a cellular phone is permitted.”

As well, no member “shall obtain financial gain from the use of Town-developed intellectual property, computer programs, technological innovations, or other patentable items.” and “No member shall use information gained in the execution of their duties that is not available to the general public.”

As for “Work of a Political Nature,” the Code says no member of Council “shall use Town facilities, services, or property for their re-election campaign.”

In representing the Town, members “shall make every effort to participate diligently in the activities of the agencies, boards, and commissions to which they are appointed.”

A section headed “Influence On Staff” requires Council members to “be respectful of the fact that staff work for the Town as a body corporate and are charged with making recommendations that reflect their professional expertise and corporate perspective, without undue influence from any individual member or group of Members of Council.”

Under “Business Relations,” members are barred from borrowing money “from any person who regularly does business with the Town unless such person is an institution or company whose shares are publicly traded and who is regularly in the business of lending money,” and from acting “as a paid agent before Council or a committee of Council or any agency, board, or committee of the Town.”

The Code also has sections barring harassment and bullying, and includes a long list of examples of workplace bullying, concluding: “Bullying another member of Council, staff or any member of the public is misconduct.”

By Tom Claridge
         

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