By Graeme McNaughton/The Oshawa Express
The appointment of the region’s integrity commissioner has passed its first hurdle, having been approved at committee of the whole. However, there is one thing missing: councillors have yet to see the amended code of conduct the commissioner will be enforcing when he starts his job in the new year.
Councillor Nancy Diamond says that despite amendments passed nearly three months ago, councillors have yet to see the updated version of the code of conduct for the region’s councillors.
“The council code of conduct was approved Sept. 14, but with a series of amendments. Again, those amendments have not come through the process yet. Once council votes to engage the services of an integrity commissioner, it is an automatic triggering of the code of conduct,” she said.
“We’re triggering something that has not been amended and has not been publicized. The vote was taken Sept. 14 but we haven’t gotten it back.”
There were six amendments to the regional code of conduct approved at September’s meeting of regional council, including removing part of a clause that would’ve required councillors to “arrange their private affairs in a manner that promotes public confidence and will bear close public scrutiny,” leaving only their duties in office.
Matt Gaskell, the region’s commissioner of corporate services, says that his office will strive to have the document available by the next meeting of regional council, currently scheduled for Dec. 14.
As of press time, the code of conduct was not listed on the online agenda for the Dec. 14 meeting of regional council.
Diamond also questioned how available Guy W. Giorno, an anti-bribery and corruption lawyer with Toronto law firm Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP, which was rewarded the contract for the integrity commissioner position, would be for the region.
“At the rate that’s charged for the year and the hourly rate, I can guarantee you these aren’t Mr. Giorono’s usual rates, what happens, where do we go on the hierarchy of need if…the individual could be charging three times as much to another client?” she asked.
“Will we get reasonable, consistent access to him?”
Under the proposed contract with Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP, the commissioner’s office will have an annual retainer cost of $900, and $239 per hour to investigate complaints, as well as for special projects include teaching seminars, public meetings or other special assignments.
Gaskell replied that he is “very comfortable that we’ll have reasonable and prompt attention from that individual.”
Another possible complication was raised by Councillor Joe Neal of Clarington, who asked whether members of regional boards are included in the purview of the integrity commissioner.
As it stands, the integrity commissioner would only apply to members of regional council. However, should the province pass Bill 68, which proposes several amendments to Municipal Act, codes of conduct must be established for municipal boards, and that an integrity commissioner would enforce said codes.
In his reply, Gaskell says that should Bill 68 pass, it “would be something I’d need to report on.”
The integrity commissioner’s appointment is up for a final vote at the next meeting of regional council, currently set for Dec. 14.