Cornwall Ontario Councilor Maurice Dupelle Conflict of Interest Motion – Thoughts by Jamie Gilcig

Cornwall Ontario Councilor Maurice Dupelle Conflict of Interest Motion – Thoughts by Jamie Gilcig

Dupelle Jan 2012Cornwall Ontario – It’s frustrating being a rookie councilor in this insane group of elected officials this term in Cornwall Ontario.   While I do not always agree with Councilor Maurice Dupelle’s decisions I don’t think anyone can repute that he’s not the hardest working councilor this term.

He still knocks on doors, does his committee work, and sacrifices home and family to try and live up to the ideal of being a good governor for our city.   Sadly when you have only one vote of 11 and aren’t as ferocious as certain newspaper editors you can have road blocks.

One road block was penetrated this Monday as the councilors motion hit the floor and was allowed to dribble through although the wording of it is such that it probably will be beaten to death by management.

Here it is in its entirety.

Whereas, as part of their official capacities, the City of Cornwall’s Council Members are appointed to serve on many of the municipality’s Commissions, Boards and Committees; and

Whereas Council Members often sit on Board of Directors for external agencies and charitable organizations; and

Whereas “Transparency”means the principle that the municipality will conduct its business in an accessible, clear and visible manner and that it’s activities are open to examination by its stakeholders; and

Whereas it is not deemed for a councillor member who sits on a Commission, Board, Committee agency or charitable organization to have a direct or indirect pecuniary interest should a matter be brought to council regarding those Commissions, Boards, Committees, agencies and charitable organizations;

Whereas how a particular vote is cast, the nature of the effect of such a vote the motions of the municipal official or whether the members vote was the “deciding” one or not relevant to the result are considered irrelevant factors, it is desirable to project accountability and transparency and for that council member to abstain from the decisions  and the vote.

Whereas if such matters requiring financial assistance from the corporation of the City of Cornwall be brought to council regarding these Commissions, Boards, Committees, agencies and Charitable Organizations that a council Member sits on, that Member:

1. Shall disclose the interest before the matter is considered ;
2. Shall not participate in the discussion;
3. Shall not attempt to influence (before, during or after);
4. Shall note vote; and
5. Leave the meeting if it is closed to the public.

Now therefore, be it resolved that council direct administration to prepare a report, regarding whether or not this motion goes against the legal considerations on exercising power that may override the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act and may exceed the limits of authority.

I think it’s a beginning, but it can go a lot lot further.   For example.   City staff that decide to run for council have to give up their position if elected.  IE if you’re a nurse at Glen Stor Dun Lodge with political aspirations you can’t do both in Cornwall.  It’s either or.

Well the same should be for positions like Councilor Carr’s with Heart of the City and the many held by Elaine MacDonald.   Does it make sense having the head of the Labour Council being potentially privy to negotiations and information at City Hall related to union contracts; never mind her voting or influencing staff and other elected officials?

We now have two whistle blowing lawsuits with at least one related to direct assertions of Conflict of Interest; but some such as Ms MacDonald are pointing out the Pecuniary interest wording in the Municipal act; but answer me this; if you use your positions on boards such as Agape and the Art Gallery to help your election campaigning and win a seat (Ms MacDonald failed in the last election finishing third behind MPP Jim McDonell and Liberal Mark A MacDonald) wouldn’t that be a pecuniary interest as there’s an awesome salary, benefits, and pension for positions such as MPP?

I’d like to see Councilor Dupelle keep working at this; but I’d like to see language that clearly states that a newly elected  official must resign from any position that could be perceived by a reasonable person to be of conflict of interest and that any elected official cannot accept a position likewise during their term.

Does it make sense to see the Mayor & Councilor MacDonald lobby council for funding for a proposed University when they themselves sit on that committee?  Is that not clearly conflict of interest with the clear benefit for the group they sit on when funded, as they eventually were?

There is a group, of which I do belong for the record, here in Cornwall called the Big Flush who have stated that they will be campaigning to make sure that none of this council and the mayor are reelected in the next election in 2014.

Which Elected Official do you think has done the best job this term in Cornwall Ontario?

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Do you think councilor Dupelle has done a good job and do you think this council has the cojones to actually enact a real Conflict of Interest Compact with the voters of Cornwall Ontario?

You can post your comments below.

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