Sunday, February 17, 2008

Protecting the Integrity
of Oshawa City Council

To the Mayor and Council

There has been much public concern, controversy and ridicule over the city purchase of the Cullen Gardens Miniatures Collection and their recent dismal failure at trying to unload the collection.

Because of the questions of potential conflicts of interest, the reputations of some politicians have been besmirched, sullied, and compromised.

The Law is extremely clear about the actions politicians must take when they foresee a potential conflict of interest stating clearly that they must excuse themselves from all discussion, voting, and comment on the issue in question.

I think it fair to all involved that an investigation be carried out to see if any of the allegations of conflict of interest are justified, and if not, to take official city action such as moving a vote of confidence in the individuals involved to restore their integrity and reputation, but if proven, to insure the wrongdoing reflects the full extent of the law.

Political Conflicts of Interest are extremely serious and we cannot allow such actions to undermine our system of government.

Section 274(1) of the Ontario Municipal Act states that the city can launch an investigation by a judge of the Superior Court of Justice by a resolution of city council.

Such an Investigation by a judge shall:

(a) Investigate any supposed breach of trust or other misconduct of a member of council, an employee of the municipality or a person having a contract with the municipality in relation to the duties or obligations of that person to the municipality;

(b) Inquire into any matter connected with the good government of the municipality; or

(c) Inquire into the conduct of any part of the public business of the municipality, including business conducted by a commission appointed by the council or elected by the electors.
This action can be investigated or prosecuted under either the Ontario Municipal Act or the Ontario Conflict of Interest Act. The Ontario Conflict of Interest Act says that this act shall prevail in the event of conflict between the acts but in fact no conflict exists so either Act can be used.

Action is preferable under the Ontario Municipal Act since this act allows for action to proceed following a resolution of council and all funding and defence costs comes from the city whereas complaint and presumably costs are the responsibility of private citizens under the Conflict of Interest Act.

To avoid impugning the entire council, I cannot impress the need strongly enough for council to initiate an independent investigation under the Municipal Act to:

1) Assure citizens that politicians are indeed acting in the best interests of Oshawa citizens and taxpayers, and

2) Clear any politician’s reputations that have been besmirched by this purchase, and

3) Assure citizens that we have an honest and uncompromised city government that acts with integrity, and

4) Assure citizens that the council is indeed self policing and does not require external public oversight to insure honesty and integrity.

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