The purpose and intent of the Code of Conduct for Council Members is to establish guidelines for ethical and interpersonal standards of conduct for Members of Council and for Members appointed by Council to its various advisory, ad hoc, special purpose committees, working groups, and task forces in the performance of Township business and the duties of elected office and appointed office and to provide direction to Members thereof to prevent inappropriate conduct and to ensure that:
- the decision-making process of Township Council is open, accessible and equitable,
- decisions are made through appropriate channels of government structure,
- public office is not to be used for personal gain,
- ratepayers have confidence in the integrity of their local government,
- members hold office for the benefit of the public and their conduct is of the highest standard,
- there is fairness and respect for differences and a duty to work together for goodwill and the common good.
- Members of Council and Members appointed by Council shall comply with the Code of Conduct as set forth;
2. General Conduct
- Members of Council are expected in the conduct of their duties to act in a manner consistent with the highest moral, legal and ethical principles.
- Members of Council will work together for the common good of the Township.
- Members of Council will preserve the trust and confidence placed in them by the Corporation and the community by conducting themselves with integrity, competency and impartiality.
- Council Members shall respect the decisions made by Council and conduct themselves in a manner that is not degrading of other Council Members positions or decision taken by Council.
- Members of Council shall abide by the Townships Respect in the Workplace (Harassment & Violence) policy as well as in accordance with the Human Rights Code.
3. Open Transparent Government
- Members of Council will promote behaviour and actions conducive to an open and fair exchange of ideas.
- Members of Council are advocates for the public process, and will ensure decisions are made in an open, transparent and democratic manner.
- Council Members shall not use emails to advance subject matters or circumvent discussing issues/items that should be advanced at an open Council meeting.
4. Confidential Information
- Members have access to confidential information by virtue of their position with the Township.
- Confidential information will not be disclosed or released, by any means, in verbal or written form, to any person other than those authorized to have access to this information.
- Freedom of Information and Protection to Privacy legislation will be followed by Members of Council.
5. Gifts, Benefits, Services and Hospitality
- The stipend paid to each Member of Council is intended to fully remunerate Members of Council for service to the Corporation.
- Members of Council are prohibited from soliciting, accepting, offering or agreeing to accept a commission, reward, gift, advantage or benefit of any kind, personally or through a family member or friend who is connected directly or indirectly with the performance or duties of office. This is not intended to preclude Members of Council from accepting:
- Personal gifts, benefits, rewards, commissions or advantages from any person or organization not connected directly or indirectly with the performance or duties of office;
- Political contributions that are otherwise offered, accepted and reported in accordance with applicable law;
- Food and beverages at banquets, receptions, ceremonies or similar events;
- Services provided without compensation by persons volunteering their time;
- Food, lodging, transportation and entertainment provided by other levels of governments or by other local governments, boards or commissions;
- A reimbursement of reasonable expenses incurred in the performance of the office;
- Meeting allowances received from Boards;
- A reimbursement of reasonable expenses incurred and honorariums received in the performance of activities connected with municipal associations;
- Token gifts such as souvenirs, mementoes and commemorative gifts that are given in recognition of service on a committee, for speaking at an event or representing the Corporation at an event; and
- Gifts that are received as an incident of protocol or social obligation that normally and reasonably accompany the responsibility of office.
- Any gifts or benefits which exceed these limits shall be returned with an explanation of this policy.
6. Conflict of Interest (Pecuniary Interest)
- Members of Council shall not engage in any activity, financial or otherwise, which is incompatible or inconsistent with the ethical discharge of official duties in the public interest. Without limiting the generality of the foregoing, Members of Council shall not;
- Use any influence of office for any purpose other than official duties;
- Act as a paid agent before Council or any committee, board or commission of the Township;
- Use their influence of office to further their private interests;
- Use the services of a civic employee in work for such members’ election or to further their private interest.
- Disclose to any person any confidential information or document obtained by reason of being a member of Council or any local board thereof
- Council Members must in addition to the above, ensure that they comply with all aspects of the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act, Municipal Act and the Elections Act.
7. Council/Staff Working Relationship
- Members of Council are elected legislators and representatives of their constituents. Council directs staff through its decisions as recorded in the minutes and resolutions of Council. Members of Council have no individual capacity to direct members of staff to carry out particular functions. Township staff are, ultimately accountable to the CAO, are responsible for implementing the decisions of Council, and ensuring the efficient and effective operation of municipal services. Inquiries of staff from Members of Council should be directed to the C.A.O. or the appropriate senior staff as directed by the C.A.O.
- Members of Council shall be respectful of the fact that staff work for the municipality and make recommendations based on their professional and technical expertise as well as from a corporate perspective, without undue influence from individual members of Council. Many staff members are bound, through professional associations, to a strict code of ethics in the delivery of their services. Accordingly, members of Council shall not:
- maliciously or falsely injure the professional or ethical reputation of staff;
- compel staff to engage in partisan political activities or be subjected to threats of discrimination for refusing to
engage in such activities; and,
- use their authority or influence for the purpose of intimidating, threatening, coercing, commanding, or influencing any staff
member with the intent of interfering with staff duties.
- The Reeve or delegated Council Member shall be the representative of Council to speak to the media regarding decisions of Council or Township positions on issues impacting the municipality and its ratepayers.
- Council members following an issue that has been debated and voted upon by Council shall then speak as one unified voice and support the position taken by the majority of Council.
9. Council Sanctions
- Council may take the following actions if a member of Council has broken the code of conduct;
- Request an apology either written or verbal from the offending Councillor;
- Depending on the severity of the action suspend or remove the Councillor from committee appointments;
- Suspension of remuneration paid to the member in respect of his or her services as a Member of Council for a period of
up to 90 days;
- Request the Member to return the property or reimburse its value to the provider of the gift or benefit.
- In addition to the penalties referred to herein, Council reserves the right to take any other action authorized by law.
- Any recommended corrective action shall be designed to ensure that the inappropriate behavior or activity does not continue.