Code of Conduct

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What is a Code of Conduct Policy?

The Municipality of Port Hope adopted a Code of Conduct June 15, 2010 by By-law Number 41/2010 that applies to all Council members and works in conjunction with the Communications Policy which promotes Accountability and Transparency in Municipal Governance.

What is the purpose of a Code of Conduct Policy?

Local Government is an open, accessible and accountable form of government. The relationship of public trust and mutual respect that has evolved between government and the public, requires high standards of ethical conduct by Municipal Council Members.

The purpose of a Code of Conduct Policy is to:

  1. Protect the public interest;
  2. Encourage high ethical standards among Municipal Council Members;
  3. Provide a universal understanding of the fundamental rights, privileges and obligations of Municipal Council Members;
  4. Provide a means for Municipal Council Members to obtain authorization for some contemplated conduct in circumstances where they are uncertain as to the ethical appropriateness of that conduct; and
  5. Sets out the means for correcting unethical conduct.

Municipal Council Members hold positions of privilege. Therefore, they must discharge their duties in a manner that recognizes a fundamental commitment to the well-being of the community and regard for the integrity of the Corporation. The Policy is important in that it:

  • Ensures equitable treatment of citizens;
  • Ensures equitable treatment of employees;
  • Communicates corporate priorities to employees;
  • Ensures compliance with statutory requirements;
  • Minimizes liability risks;
  • Ensures accountability at all levels;
  • Ensures optimal use of available resources;
  • Implements the organization's strategic vision; and
  • Minimizes local board/committee interference in operational matters. 

What are the Responsibilities of Council Members?

Integrity - ultimately, ethical behaviour relies on the diligence of the individual.

Impartiality - every Council Member must perform his/her duties in an impartial manner.

Conflict of Interest - every Council Member shall have regard to the provisions contained in the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act, R.S.O.1990.

Financial Transactions - every Council Member must adhere to Municipal by-laws and policies regarding any municipal financial transaction.

Confidentiality - every Council Member must hold in strict confidence all information of a confidential nature acquired in the course of his or her term with the Municipality.

Political Activity - Members of Council are to be allowed as great a measure of political rights as can be reconciled with the need to ensure the fact and appearance of impartiality, in the performance of their duties with the Municipality as Members of Council. The point at which any appropriate balance can be struck in any particular case depends primarily on the nature and level of the Council Member's responsibilities.

Public Comment - In accordance with the Municipality's Communications Policy, By-law Number 115/2007 every member of Council shall display the reserve inherent in his/her position with the Municipality when publicly expressing his/her personal opinions on matters of political controversy or on existing or porposed municipal policy or administration. This policy is not intended to restrict the legitimate public comment of spokespersons of Council, nor the public comment of Council Members on matters of essentially a personal interest related to his/her position as a Council Member with the Municipality of Port Hope.

Who is the Integrity Commissioner?

The Municipal Act requires, where a Council adopts a Code of Conduct, the Municipality to appoint an Integrity Commissioner to receive and assess alleged breaches of the Municipal Code of Conduct and where deemed appropriate, conduct an investigation of the alleged breach of the Code of Conduct.

The Municipality of Port Hope appointed an Integrity Commissioner, Mr. Robert Swayze by By-law Number 119-2011 on December 20, 2011. The Integrity Commissioner is a Statutory Officer under the Municipal Act under contract to the Municipality with a direct reporting function to Council. As a Statutory Officer, the role of the Integrity Commissioner is an arm's length function with a duty to ensure an unbiased, fair and appropriate process be undertaken to consider complaints regarding the Municipal Code of Conduct and render a decision.

Complaint Protocol

If you believe that a Member of Council has breached the Code of Conduct or is in non-compliance, there are two options you can take:

Informal Approach

  • Advise the member that the behaviour or activity contravenes the Code of Conduct;
  • Encourage the member to stop the prohibited behaviour or activity;
  • Keep a written record of the incidents including dates, times, locations, other persons present and any other relevant information;
  • Tell someone else (for example, a senior staff member or an officer of the organization) about your concerns, your comments to the member and the response of the member;
  • If applicable, confirm to the member, satisfaction with the response of the member; or, if applicable, advise the member of your dissatisfaction with the response; and
  • Consider the need to pursue the matter in accordance with the formal complaint procedure, if applicable, or in accordance with another applicable judicial or quasi-judicial process or complaint procedure.

Formal Approach

If the informal approach in your opinion has not worked or if you are uncomfortable with that approach, you may make a formal request for an investigation.

All alleged breaches of the Municipal Code of Conduct MUST be received in writing by the Municipal Clerk using the prescribed form that constitutes an Affidavit of Oath and the Affidavit MUST be signed by the complainant and commissioned by the Clerk or Deputy Clerk upon receipt. All Affidavits MUST be accompanied by any relevant background material and information at the time of filing. The Municipal Clerk or designate will assess the completeness of the submission on a case by case basis. Affidavits are date stamped, certified by the Municipal Clerk, or designate and the Corporate Seal affixed.

The Municipal Clerk will then forward the executed Affidavit together with the relevant background material and information directly to the Integrity Commissioner for review, preliminary assessment and appropriate decision on the disposition of the complaint.

For more information regarding the Integrity Commissioner role and responsibilities, please contact the Corporate Services Department at (905) 885-4544 or integritycommissioner@porthope.ca.