A New Code of Conduct & Conflict of Interest Rules for Council
At the special meeting on March 29, Kingston City Council approved the new Code of Conduct, Complaint Protocol, and an Accountability Framework.
With this approval means City Council will be hiring a full-time Integrity Commissioner who will be available to Councilors and the public to advise on if a situation is a conflict of interest, investigate complaints and report to Council on their findings.
An important next step will be the development of an education and communications plan for both members of the Council and the community. I believe the communications and education plan is critical to ensure there is clarity on what is and is not a conflict of interest and the process for inquiring or making a complaint is clear and accessible. I look forward to sharing more information with you in the days to come
On March 29 City Council will hold a special meeting to discuss a new code of conduct and conflict of interest guidelines for members of council. In the aftermath of the council vote on the Capitol condominium development last fall, there has been a lot of confusion about what defines a conflict of interest for a member of council, and how these potential conflicts should be addressed. There has also been confusion about what is and is not acceptable for a member of council when expressing disagreement with members of the public or city staff.
As mayor, I have vowed to resolve this confusion and work with councillors, staff and members of the public to implement a new and improved code of conduct and conflict of interest guidelines. In my view, the new code and guidelines should be clear, reasonable and supported by a simple and transparent process for members of the public to be able to express concerns about perceived breaches of the code of conduct by members of council.
Here is what I am looking for in the new code of conduct:
- a clear definition of what a conflict of interest is and what it is not
- a clear standard for respectful conduct by members of council when interacting with the public, while still allowing councilors the needed freedom to express their positions on issues or hot topics
- a clear standard for members of council to be professional and respectful in dealing with city staff, while still allowing them to disagree with policy recommendations put forward by staff
- a clear, accessible and easy to understand summary of the main points of the code of conduct available to the community
You can read the draft copy of the new code of conduct here – http://bit.ly/2mwi2JH I welcome your input and opinions before council addresses this issue later this month.
What is missing in this report are the measures the city can take to provide a clear and easy to follow process for members of the public to bring forward concerns. I feel there is more work to be done on this and look forward to discussing this at the Council meeting on March 29.
Ultimately my goal is to have a code of conduct that is fair and reasonable, and that gives citizens from all professional backgrounds the opportunity to run for City Council, while at the same time preserving the highest integrity in our local government.