City looks to draft Ethical Governance Policy

By Jessica Dempsey

September 20, 2017 12:11 PM

File Photo

City council looked at a draft of an Ethical Governance Policy on Monday at the Governance and Priorities Committee meeting.
The objective of the policy would be to provide city council and administration direction for reporting lobbying efforts or attempts to influence decision-making processes.
A policy was recommended by the governance audit which was done earlier this year, because the city did not have a lobbying policy.
“We need to be able to look at things and be accountable to both the taxpayer and business, so that all businesses are treated fairly and to ensure taxpayers there is clarity, transparency, and accountability when it comes to business awards,” said Mayor Gerald Aalbers. 
The policy will help to ensure there is no influence on the outside by businesses trying to push for their company to be picked as a tender.
“It gives us some direction in writing, it’s a policy. Certainly there is not always the case that there is a clear policy, and we go back to administration in many cases and ask questions. But, this way we can refer to a policy,” said Aalbers.
Coun. Michael Diachuk spoke out about the need to change some of the definitions in the draft policy.
He noted relatives/family was defined too broadly.
In the policy, it is defined as a spouse, father, mother, brother, sister, son or daughter, grandparent, grandchild.
It included common-law, in-law and step relationships.
“I think in part, what we are trying to do is make sure it’s crystal clear around the behaviour we want for our council. If there is a relationship with a cousin or another relative, then being aware of it, it’s easy to excuse yourself and not get yourself in a situation,” he said.
Broadening the definition, he said it gives people a chance to reflect on all the connections there might be.
“By putting all those layers out there, I think it makes us pause and think about our decisions, and make sure those decisions aren’t being perceived as bias in any way,” said Diachuk.
He said implementing a policy like this was a good idea, as other communities also have similar ones.
“What it does do is make sure not only are decisions made that are sound judgment and unbiased, they are also perceived to be unbiased, and I think that’s part of the intent here,” said Diachuk.
Council sent back the draft to administration with more questions to be answered.
“We gave administration some direction to do some further investigation, they will be looking at things and it will come back likely with that policy in a slightly different format,” said Aalbers.

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