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Examining The City of Mississauga’s Council Code of Conduct. (Part 2) “upholding both the letter of the law and the spirit of the laws and policies”

January 7th, 2012  

This blog is a continuation from yesterday’s entry, Examining The City of Mississauga’s Council Code of Conduct. (Part 1) Line by line, word by word.

Just a reminder that my goal is to go through The City of Mississauga Code of Conduct, line by line, word by word as preparation for future Council deputations. Part 1 examined pages 1 through 5 of the Code.

Once again, I will cut-and-paste the City of Mississauga Code of Conduct directly into this blog entry and offer comment/criticism [bold italics square brackets] when the need arises.

Those interested in accessing the full version of City of Mississauga Council Code of Conduct April 2011 please click here.

There was something important that I forgot point out yesterday. I was only reminded of it while going through this exercise. Be it a Corporate Policy, Corporate Report, By-Law, Guideline, those drafting it meticulously weigh every single word. No word makes it on to a City document without Staff’s carefullest of scrutiny. Yes, “carefullest”.

The City of Mississauga’s wordsmiths are especially fond of vague words —like “transparent” and “accountable”. Fact is, words can be so vague as to become meaningless, become atrocities —like “transparent” and “accountable”.  Like “appropriate”. Like “subject to confidentiality and disclosure rules”. Like “Trust, Quality, Excellence”.

That’s enough of an intro. We completed Page 5 of the City of Mississauga Code of Conduct. It’s on to Page 6.

The City of Mississauga Council Code of Conduct.

Council Code of Conduct April, 2011  (Page 6 begins)

i. Members of Council shall seek to serve the public interest by upholding both the
letter of the law and the spirit of the laws and policies established by the Federal
parliament, Ontario legislature, and by City Council.

[By now I’ve filed about $3,500 worth of Freedom of Information examining all manner of governance issues at the City of Mississauga. These documents confirm City Staff’s chronic non-compliance to Corporate policies, guidelines, by-laws as well as provincial legislation. Here’s just one example: video of Hazel McCallion bemoaning Staff’s “complete disregard for policy”.

And after the Mayor’s “It was just common law” performance at Sunday’s Mayor’s New Year’s Eve Levee, it’s obvious why the City of Mississauga’s corporate landscape is littered with “public servants” who believe that laws and policies do not apply to them.

Here’s what www.canadiana.ca says about the “just common law” that McCallion dismissed and demeaned.

Common Law and Civil Law

Canada has inherited two systems of law: civil law from the French and common law from the English. This page will describe and give the history of each system as it relates to Canada

British Common Law

Definition

British common law, also called traditional law, is law that has evolved from decisions of English courts going back to the Norman Conquest in 1066. These earlier decisions set “precedent,” which are used in future cases of a similar nature. Precedent can be overruled by new laws, or statutes, passed by the appropriate government.

Today Common law is applied in most countries settled or ruled by the British. In Canada, law in all the provinces except Quebec is based on common law.

Note, “In Canada, law in all the provinces except Quebec is based on common law.” Except Mississauga too!

Back to Page 6 of the Code.]

Commentary

The provisions of this Code are intended to be applied in concert with existing legislation and
go beyond the minimum standards of behaviour set out in current federal and provincial
statutes.

To ensure the Code remains a living document that will remain current and continue to be a
beneficial guide, the Code shall be brought forward for review at the end of each term of
Council, with any changes to be implemented at the start of the following Council session.

j. In fulfilling their roles as elected officials, Members of Council shall respect the
role of staff in the administration of the business affairs of the City and in so
doing will comply with the City’s Respectful Workplace policy.

[Item j. is simply outrageous. “Members of Council shall respect the role of staff…” Repeat: Freedom of Information confirms the degree to which City of Mississauga Staff fail to comply to Corporate policies, guidelines, and by-laws ,as well as provincial legislation. And videotape of Audit and Council meetings confirm the degree to which elected officials not only look the other way, but cover up for Staff.

An even ghastlier joke is the Code’s reference to the City’s Respectful Workplace policy. Video evidence to follow.

Back to Page 6 of the Code.]

Commentary

Decision-making authority lies with Council, and not with an individual Member. Members of
Council recognize that it is the role of the officers and employees of the City to implement
Council’s decisions and to establish administrative practices and procedures to carry out
Council’s decisions. Council is the source of all legislative authority and will make decisions
on whether and to what extent to delegate this authority to others, including the Mayor,
committees and to staff. Only Council as a whole has the capacity to direct staff members.
Council as a whole must be able to access information in order to fulfill its decision-making
duties and oversight responsibilities however, individual Members of Council must also
recognize that the information they receive in their capacity as elected officials, is subject to
confidentiality and disclosure rules contained in federal and provincial legislation and City
policies.

[Item j’s “Council as a whole must be able to access information in order to fulfill its decision-making duties” echoes yesterday’s blog where I deal with the Code’s Rule No. 1 which states, “Members of Council recognize the public’s right to reasonable access to information in relation to how decisions are made.”

Item j’s caveat, “Members of Council must also recognize that the information they receive in their capacity as elected officials, is subject to confidentiality and disclosure rules contained in federal and provincial legislation and City policies.” echoes the Code’s Rule No. 1 which states, “The public’s right to access however must be balanced against the requirement to protect the legitimate interests of the City and the respect for approved policies of the City.”

Whether it’s the Code’s Rule No. 1 assertion regarding “the public’s right to reasonable access to information” or the Code‘s Item j’s “Council as a whole must be able to access information”, guaranteed, the City will protect itself against providing Information that a member of the public or a Member of Council really needs by hiding behind the many exemptions in the Province’s Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

 And here’s another fact. While Item j’s statement, “individual Members of Council must also recognize that the information they receive in their capacity as elected officials, is subject to confidentiality and disclosure rules contained in federal and provincial legislation and City policies” is true, if confidentiality rules are violated (for example, by elected officials’ emails), neither the public or a Member of Council can access the necessary information to prove that the elected official violated the confidentiality rules! That is, the Violator’s emails are themselves protected in the confidentiality provisions of the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act!

Fact is, you can suspect that a municipality’s elected officials are engaging in a brisk email trade in human trafficking. But you’d be denied access to their emails to prove it! That was fun, so let’s stop here.]

END OF PAGE 6 OF THE CODE.

Signed,

MISSISSAUGAWATCH


ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

 1.    The City of Mississauga Code of Conduct April 2011

2.     Canada in the Making  Common Law and Civil Law

Canada has inherited two systems of law: civil law from the French and common law from the English. This page will describe and give the history of each system as it relates to Canada

Related essays on this site:
The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council
The Sources of Law in Canada
The Written and Unwritten Constitution
Representative Government
Responsible Government
Canada’s Constitutional History
British Common Law

3.     Video of MISSISSAUGAWATCH’s first (meandering and unsuccessful) attempt to merge the Mississauga’s Council Code of Conduct with the Mississauga Judicial Inquiry’s “Ethical Infrastructure” report.

As I watched it today, I winced at how unfocussed this video is —just all over the map. But it introduces the vital concept of “sanitized” reports. Sanitized reports/documents/communication is the Key to Mississauga’s success. It was the City of Mississauga’s sanitization efforts that prompted me to warn people today with:

Be it a Corporate Policy, Corporate Report, By-Law, Guideline, those drafting it meticulously weigh every single word. No word makes it on to a City document without Staff’s carefullest of scrutiny. Yes, “carefullest”.

The City of Mississauga’s wordsmiths are especially fond of vague words, like “transparent” and “accountable”. Fact is, words can be so vague as to become meaningless, become atrocities —like “transparent” and “accountable”.  Like “appropriate”. Like “subject to confidentiality and disclosure rules”. Like “Trust, Quality, Excellence”.

BEWARE of TRAPS in Mississauga Code of Conduct if filing complaint with integrity commissioner  (7:34 min)

(Click here to go directly to the clip on YouTube)

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