The York Region Taxpayers Coalition is advocating for the Region of York to adopt a Council Code of Conduct, a Lobbyist Registry and hire an Integrity Commissioner.
Approximately 70 of the 440 Ontario municipalities have a Council Code of Conduct and the list is growing. There are now 38 integrity commissioners employed in this field. The Municipal Act doesn’t specify any qualifications for an Integrity Commissioner but most of these 38 working in the field are lawyers.
In the past 24-months, Ontario has seen plenty of controversy involving decisions made by integrity commissioners. Some of their decisions have ended up in our courts or are currently being challenged in our courts. Examples include former Toronto city Mayor Rob Ford when asked to reimburse certain charity donors despite the fact that the Municipal Act only allows for two penalties – censure or suspension of pay; and the Deputy Mayor of the City of Vaughan, who is presently suing the City and its Integrity Commissioner for an investigation she conducted in which his lawyer claims ignored his client’s rights under the law.
We see multiple examples of Municipal Integrity Commissioners acting beyond their scope of duties. These scopes of duties are mandated by the Council they are appointed by.
The York Region Taxpayers Coalition believes that the actions of certain individuals within the Integrity Commissioner field are giving the profession a bad name and requires professional oversight. The public needs an organization to set professional standards and governance to enforce the “Integrity” of those who call themselves Integrity Commissioners.
Recognizing the growing controversies, the 38 Integrity Commissioners have very recently formed a group called AMICO (Association of Municipal Integrity Commissioners of Ontario). This group has petitioned the provincial government to self-govern.
The York Region Taxpayers Coalition believes that a small group of people to self-govern is a recipe for disaster. The public needs an organization like the Law Society of Upper Canada to step in and fill this governance/professional standards vacuum.
The York Region Taxpayers Coalition has petitioned the Law Society of Upper Canada to assume this role for the Municipal Integrity Commissioner profession.