originally written for: Just Sayin’ Caledon, 7:00 p.m.
There is a very good reason why we have an Integrity Commissioner in Caledon. It is mandated by the Province of Ontario. No choice, no discussion, no debate – we now have our own Integrity Commissioner. And it is no easy job being tasked with the wisdom of Solomon, especially when political aspirations get in the way of reasonable judgements. “Here, you take the sword and cut the baby in half,” are not words sweet to the ears of politicians in the #metoo age.
The Province mandated Integrity Commissioner roles and Codes of Conduct for Municipal Council because of so much bad behaviour, usually from developer interests interfering with fair play, but often just from inappropriate human bickering. Thus a Code of Conduct was mandated for all Municipal Councils – this is NOT a discussion item.
What is a valid discussion item is the detail behind each Municipal Code of Conduct. As is included in tonight’s Town of Caledon agenda, are there ambiguities that need to be addressed? What would make it easier for an Integrity Commissioner to do her or his job?
For example, if a local politician told the CAO of a Town to “F__k Off” would that be a violation of a “workplace free from harassment and degrading language” policy? And what would be the consequences – mouth washed out with Sunlight soap?
Some may argue that the cost of an Integrity Commissioner and the cases she or he has to hear are a burden to the taxpayer. Well, welcome to the world of Donald Trump. A megalomaniac dictator is cheap. An ignorant aggressive narcissistic personality is a lot costlier in the long run. Besides, the Integrity Commissioner’s salary is already worked out in the local budget. If there are no complaints to address, that salary still gets paid, So if local politicians mind their Ps and Qs, there is no additional charge to the taxpayer.
It would be interesting for the residents of Caledon to find out how many complaints have been filed with the Integrity Commissioner and by which complainants against which respondents, and how many have resulted in cases being carried forward by the Integrity Commissioner. And how those found guilty of violations of the Code, as ambiguous as it may be at this point in time, have improved their behaviour or not.
Refer, for example, to the York Region Board of Education’s policy on Respectful Workplace and Learning Environment (apologies for the spacing – it is an educational document):
. “All staff, students, trustees and community members of the York Region District School Board are responsible for:
● creating and maintaining an inclusive learning and working environment that is free from harassment and discrimination and respectful of human rights;
● being aware of their rights and responsibilities under the Respectful Workplace and Learning Environment policy and related procedure;
● discussing and/or reporting alleged or suspected harassment, discrimination and human rights situations and concerns with a superintendent, principal, manager or supervisor, where appropriate;
● understanding and adhering to the human rights complaint process as outlined in the Respectful Workplace and Learning Environment procedure;
● where appropriate, discussing concerns with the other party/parties prior to filing a formal complaint in an effort to address and resolve concerns at the earliest possible stage;
● participating in a Ministry of Labour Visit and/or Investigation related to workplace harassment, as required;
● being aware of and sensitive to issues of discrimination and harassment and taking proactive steps to ensure the human rights of all individuals are respected and maintained;
● demonstrating professional and respectful behaviour;
● cultivating and maintaining inclusive learning and working Environment and services; and
● conducting themselves in an appropriate and respectful manner that meets all applicable codes of
ethics, codes of conduct and standards of practice of the Board.”
Yes, if we expect this for our children and teachers, It might not be a bad ethic to pass on to our politicians. Imagine – professional and respectful behaviour.
It would be interesting for the residents of Caledon to find out how many complaints have been filed with the Integrity Commissioner over he past four year term and by which complainants against which respondents, and how many have resulted in cases being carried forward by the Integrity Commissioner. And how those found guilty of violations of the Code, as ambiguous as it may be at this point in time, have improved their behaviour or not.
.In other words, everything we need to know, we learned in kindergarten. Play respectfully and responsibly Councillors, or take a time out from the Municipal playground. Yes, democracy and justice are expensive, as any dictator will tell you. We are fortunate to have an Integrity Commissioner of the quality of John Fleming – we just need to live up to the Code, and tighten it up.
. The way I see it.
. Skid Crease, Caledon