City to examine the idea of code of conduct, integrity commissioner

CORNWALL, Ontario – City council is eyeing a plan to introduce a code of conduct for elected officials and even the appointment of an integrity commissioner.

Coun. Brock Frost was successful in getting both ideas forwarded to city administrators to examine the issue further.

“Many of us campaigned on more transparency and accountability within our city government,” said Frost. “This is but the first step in fulfilling these promises to the citizens of Cornwall.

“There’s an ever increasing trend towards transparent government. I think it’s something council owes its citizens. We should at least look at this.

Coun. Claude McIntosh openly disagreed with the idea prior to Monday’s council meeting.

“He just wants to spend money on everything,” said McIntosh. “If it’s (integrity commissioner) full-time it’s easily $75,000 in expenditures. And I don’t know what that guy would do all day.”

And he suggested the city could find itself with some pretty weighty bills because the city pays for the work of such a commissioner.

“Anybody can be an integrity commissioner,” he said, adding bills can be calculated at about $260 an hour. “The thing that worries me that anybody out there can call up the integrity commissioner and say I don’t like what Coun. So and So is doing, and he launches an investigation.

“You could be on the hook for several thousand dollars. So there’s ups and downs to this. South Stormont dropped their guy – they found out it was too expensive.

Frost said he wants to ensure the public is being fairly represented.

And also suggested a full-time position is not what he is after.

“I never suggested a full-time position, rather an on-call appointment who would be responsible to the City of Cornwall on a case by case basis,” he said. “The code of conduct and integrity commissioner essentially come hand and hand.

“While the code outlines the actions and responsibilities to be followed by council, the integrity commissioner will enforce the code and deal with public complaints.”

The Municipal Act outlines the rules that municipal governments must use to create such codes and many communities across the province have already taken the lead.

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