Code of Conduct

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What is a Code of Conduct Policy?

The Municipality of Port Hope adopted a Code of Conduct for Members of Council and Local Boards on March 5, 2019 by By-law Number 12/2019 that applies to all members of Council members, including the Mayor and, unless specifically provided with necessary modifications, to all of the Municipality's Committees, agencies, boards and commissions 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?

The purpose of the Code of Conduct is to establish a general standard to ensure that all Members share a common basis for acceptable conduct, and to which allMembersare expected to adhere to and comply with. This Code of Conduct operates with and as a supplement to the existing Municipal, Provincial and Federal Statues, including but not limited to:

  • Municipal Act, 2001
  • Municipal Conflict of Interest Act
  • Municipal Elections Act, 1996
  • Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act
  • Human Rights Code
  • Occupational Health and Safety Act
  • Provincial Offences Act
  • CriminalCode

Statement of Principles

This Code of Conduct is intended to set a high standard of conduct for Members in order to provide good governance and a high level of public confidence in the administration of the Municipality by its Members as duly elected or appointed public representatives to ensure that they each operate from a foundation of integrity, transparency, justice, truth, honesty and courtesy.

The following key statements of principle are intended to guide Members and assist with the interpretation of the Code of Conduct:

  • Members shall serve and be seen to serve the public in a conscientious and diligent manner;
  • Members shall observe and act with the highest standard of ethical conduct and integrity;
  • Members shall avoid the improper use of the influence of their office and act without self-interest;
  • Members shall act and are expected to perform their functions with honesty, integrity, accountability and transparency;
  • Members shall perform their duties and arrange their private affairs in a manner that promotes public confidence and that will bear close public scrutiny;
  • Members shall be cognizant that they are at all times representatives of the Municipality and of Council, recognize the importance of their duties and responsibilities, take into account the public character of their function, and maintain and promote the public trust in the Municipality; and
  • Members shall uphold the spirit and the letter of the laws of Ontario and Canada and the laws and policies adopted by Council.

The above statements are key principles that are intended to facilitate an understanding, application and interpretation of the Code of Conduct – the principles are not operative provisions of the Code of Conduct and are not intended to be enforced independently as such. 

General Obligations

In all respects, a Member ("Member" meaning a Member of Council for the Municipality or a member of a local board, including a member of a joint board) shall:

(a)  make every effort to act with good faith and care;

(b)  conduct themselves with integrity, courtesy and respectability at all meetings of the Council or any Committee and in accordance with the Municipality’s Procedural By-law or other applicable procedural rules and policies;

(c)  seek to advance the public interest with honesty;

(d)  seek to serve their constituents in a conscientious and diligent manner;

(e)  respect the individual rights, values, beliefs and personality traits of any other person, recognizing that all persons are entitled to be treated equally with dignity and respect for their personal status regarding gender, sexual orientation, race, creed, religion, ability and spirituality;

(f)   refrain from making statements known to be false or with the intent to misleadCouncil, staff or the public;

(g)   recognize that they are representatives of the Municipality and that they owe a duty of loyalty to the residents of the Municipality at all times;

(h)   accurately communicate the decisions of Council and respect Council’s decision-making process even if they disagree with Council’s ultimate determinations and rulings; and

(i)    refrain from making disparaging comments about another Member or unfounded accusations about the motives of another Member.

The Role of Staff

1.    Council as a whole approves the budget, policies and governance of the Municipality through its by-laws and resolutions. An individual Member does not direct nor oversee the functions of the staff of the Municipality.

2.    The Municipality’s staff serve Council and work for the Municipality as a body corporate under the direction of Senior Management.  Inquiries of Staff from Members should be directed to the appropriate Senior Staff.

3.    A Member shall comply with the Municipality’s Council and Staff Relations Policy.

4.    A Member shall not publicly criticize staff. If a Member has any issue with respect to any staff member, such issue shall be referred the particular staff member’s appropriate Supervisor.

5.    A Member shall respect the role of staff in the administration of the business and governmental affairs of the Municipality, and acknowledge and appreciate that staff:

(a)   provide advice and make policy recommendations inaccordance with their professional ethics, expertise andobligations and that a Member must not falsely or maliciously injure the reputation of staff members whether professional or ethical or otherwise;

(b)   work within the administration of justice and that a Member must not make requests, statements or take actions which maybe construed as an attempt to influence the independent administration of justice and, therefore, a Member shall not attempt to intimidate, threaten, or influence any staff member from carrying out that person’s duties, including any duty to disclose improper activity; and

(c)    carry out their duties based on political neutrality and without undue influence from any individual Member and, therefore, a Member must not invite or pressure any member of staff to engage in partisan political activities or be subjected to discrimination or reprisal for refusing to engage in such activities.

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, Aird & Berlis LLP by By-law Number 43/2019 on June 4, 2019. 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.

Accountability Framework for the Municipality of Port Hope

The Accountability Framework ensures that the Municipality of Port Hope is in compliance with the legislative requirements established through the passage of Bill 68, Modernizing Ontario Municipal Legislation Act. Download and review the Municipality's Accountability Framework. 

Complaint Protocol

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

Informal Complaint Procedure

1.  Any individual who identifies or witnesses behaviour or activity by a Member that they believe contravenes the Code of Conduct may seek to address the prohibited behaviour or activity themselves in the following manner by following the Informal Complaint Procedure:

(a)    document the incident(s) where the Member may have contravened the Code of Conduct including dates, times, location other persons present, and any other relevant information;

(b)    advise a third party about the concerns regarding the Member’s actions;

(c)    advise the Member that the behaviour or activity appears to contravene the Code of Conduct;

(d)    identify to the Member the specific provision(s) of the Code of Conduct that may have been contravened;

(e)    encourage the Member to acknowledge and agree to stop the prohibited behaviour or activity and to undertake to refrain from  future occurrences of the prohibited behaviour or activity;

(f)    request the Integrity Commissioner to assist in informal discussion of the alleged complaint with the Member in an attempt to settle or resolve the issue;

(g)    if applicable:

(i)     confirm to the Member that his or her response is satisfactory, or

(ii)     advise the Member that his or her response is unsatisfactory;

(h)     consider the need to pursue the matter in accordance with the Formal Complaint Procedure, or in accordance with any other applicable judicial or quasi-judicial process or complaint procedure.

2.   Individuals are strongly encouraged to pursue the Informal Complaint Procedure as the first means of remedying behaviour or activity of a Member that they believe violates the Code of Conduct.

3.   With the consent of both the complaining individual and the Member, the Integrity Commissioner may participate in any informal process. The parties involved are encouraged to take advantage of the Integrity Commissioner’s potential role as a mediator/conciliator on issues relating to a complaint.

4.  The Informal Complaint Procedure is not a precondition or a prerequisite to pursuing the Formal Complaint Procedure related to the Code of Conduct.

Formal Complaint Procedure

1.(1)    Any individual who identifies or witnesses behaviour or activity by a Member that they reasonably believe contravenes the Code of Conduct may file a formal complaint to request an inquiry by the Integrity Commissioner as to whether a Member has contravened the Code of Conduct in accordance with the following requirements:

(a)       all complaints shall be in writing on the prescribed form Formal Complaint Form # 1 - Affidavit and shall be dated and signed by an identifiable individual (the “complainant”);

(b)       the complaint must set out reasonable and probable grounds for the allegation that the Member has contravened the Code of Conduct and must be accompanied by a supporting sworn affidavit setting out the evidence in full in support of the allegation; and

(c)        Council may also file a complaint against any of its Members of an alleged contravention of the Code of Conduct by passing a resolution requesting the Integrity Commissioner to undertake an inquiry.

(2)       An elector, as defined in section 1 of the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act, or a person demonstrably acting in the public interest (collectively, a “complainant”) may file a formal request that the Integrity Commissioner carry out an inquiry concerning an alleged contravention by a Member in accordance with the following requirements:

(a)       all requests (also referred to as “complaints”) shall be in writing on the prescribed form Formal Complaint Form # 2 - Declaration, dated and signed by an identifiable individual (the “complainant”);

(b)       the request shall include a statutory declaration attesting to the fact that:

(i)        the complainant became aware of the contravention not more than six (6) weeks before the date of the complaint, or

(ii)       in the case where the complainant became aware of the alleged contravention during the period of time described in paragraph 1 of subsection 223.4.1(5) of the Municipal Act, 2001, that the complainant became aware of the alleged contravention during that period of time;

(c)        Council may also pass a resolution requesting the Integrity Commissioner to undertake an inquiry respecting an alleged contravention of sections 5, 5.1 or 5.2 of the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act by a Member and provide a statutory declaration as required by Section 1(2).

(3)       Complainants who file a formal complaint under Sections 1(1) or 1(2) must provide a full and complete record of evidence to the Integrity Commissioner who is under no obligation whatsoever to, but may, seek additional information to supplement or complete the evidentiary record to substantiate or support the allegations set out in the complaint or request.

The Complaint Form and all supporting documentation regarding an alleged breach of the Municipal Code of Conduct can be forward to Aird & Berlis, LLP, the Municipal Integrity Commissioner at integritycommissioner@porthope.ca 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.