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The McCallion Letters

Examining The City of Mississauga’s Council Code of Conduct. (Part 3) Beware “community events”, “volunteer services”, “arm’s length”…

January 8th, 2012  

This blog is a continuation of the following blog entries:

Examining The City of Mississauga’s Council Code of Conduct. (Part 1) Line by line, word by word.  Pages 1 through 5 of the Code.

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” Page 6 of the Code.

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.

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.

The City of Mississauga Council Code of Conduct.

Council Code of Conduct April, 2011  (Page 7 begins)


Rule No. 2


Gifts and Benefits:

1. No Member shall accept a fee, advance, cash, gift, gift certificate or personal benefit that is
connected directly or indirectly with the performance of his/her duties of office unless
permitted by the exceptions listed below. No Member shall accept the use of property or
facilities, such as a vehicle, office or vacation property at less than reasonable market value
or at no cost.

For these purposes, a fee or advance paid to or a gift or benefit provided with the
Member’s knowledge to a Family Member or to a Member’s staff that is connected
directly or indirectly to the performance of the Member’s duties, is deemed to be a gift to
that Member.

The following are recognized as exceptions:

a. compensation authorized by law;

b. such gifts or benefits that normally accompany the responsibilities of office and are
received as an incident of protocol or social obligation;

c. a political contribution otherwise reported by law, in the case of Members running for
office;

[CITIZEN ALERT! Item c, “a political contribution otherwise reported by law, in the case of Members running for office” is also a political contribution to the Power of Incumbency.  And contributions can take can take varied and subtle forms.

Having researched the “Friends of Hazel” it’s surprising how many political “contributors” to McCallion-approved-councillors‘ campaigns are public relations spinmeisters. And graphics designers and printers! Not surprising is that the most fanatic of these “Team Hazel” graphic designers/printers-supporters also design and print City-event glossy brochures and reports!

And let’s not forget the most prevalent political contributions  to Team Hazel that few even notice: the soldier-ant highly-orchestrated support that the Mayor and Her Councillors enjoy from the Mississauga Board of Trade and the Mississauga Chinese Business Association.

Another significant source of McCallion’s support that goes unnoticed are the number of high profile “Friends of Hazel” who are real estate agents!  Team Re/Max and Team  LePage very much double as Team Hazel. Back to Page 7 of the Code.]

d. services provided without compensation by persons volunteering their time;

[CITIZEN ALERT! Item d, “services provided without compensation by persons volunteering their time” is the biggest loophole in the Mississauga Council Code of Conduct. How often has Mayor Hazel McCallion lavished praise on “community volunteers”? How often has she thanked them for their thousands of “volunteer hours” dedicating themselves to “Mississauga”?

But it’s only when these same “community volunteers” morph into (let’s call them) political volunteers, and provide “services without compensation” to Hazel McCallion and Her Councillors that their true value becomes apparent. The Mayor’s Power of Incumbency begins and rests on “d. services provided without compensation by persons volunteering their time”. Back to Page 7 of the Code.]

e. a suitable memento of a function honouring the Member;

f. food, lodging, transportation and entertainment provided by Provincial, Regional and
local governments or political subdivisions of them, by the Federal government or by a
foreign government within a foreign country or by a conference, seminar or event
organizer where the Member is either speaking or attending in an official capacity at an
official event;

g. food and beverages consumed at banquets, receptions or similar events, if:

i. attendance serves a legitimate business purpose;

ii. the person extending the invitation or a representative of the organization is in
attendance; and

iii. the value is reasonable and the invitations infrequent;

h. communication to the offices of a Member, including subscriptions to newspapers, and
periodicals; and

i. sponsorships and donations for community events organized or run by a Member or by
a third party on behalf of a Member and subject to the limitations set out in the Code of
Conduct respecting Council Member-organized community events, where all costs are
incurred and where all such events occur on or before Nomination Day.

[CITIZEN ALERT! Item i’s “sponsorships and donations for community events organized or run by a Member or by a third party on behalf of a Member ” is another loophole.

In yesterday’s blog, I wrote, “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”.

When you see “community events” in this Code, the City really means “campaign events” in non-election years.

Next. Re-read the Citizen Alerts for Items c and d. Item c’s “a political contribution otherwise reported by law, in the case of Members running for office” and the biggest loophole, Item d’s “services provided without compensation by persons volunteering their time” all figure prominently in the Power of Incumbency.

For example, the Mayor’s Gala describes itself as “Mississauga’s premier social event of the year.” The Mayor’s Gala relies on “sponsorships and donations”, and is “organized or run by a third party on behalf of the Mayor”.   The annual Mayor’s Gala falls under the Code’s definition of “community event” yet you’d be hard-pressed to find more political scuttling, lobbying and campaigning under any one roof in Ontario than November Gala night.

As for the Code’s silly “subject to the limitations set out in the Code of Conduct respecting Council Member-organized community events, where all costs are incurred and where all such events occur on or before Nomination Day”,  “services provided without compensation by persons volunteering their time” are incalculable —easily fudged. And don’t take my word for it.

Here’s what the Community Foundation of Mississauga has to say about the difficulty of attaching monetary value to volunteer services.

2 i  Donated Services

The Board of Directors and other volunteers contribute services to the Foundation
in carrying out its operating activities. Because of the difficulty in determining the
fair value of these contributed services, they are not recognized in the financial
statements.

The Community Foundation of Mississauga‘s admission that it has “difficulty in determining the fair value of these contributed services” means there’s plenty of room to low-ball volunteer services (ie: “Friends of Hazel” Rally, Mayor’s Gala, Golf Tournaments, Safe City Mississauga events…).

Bottomline, the “Friends of Hazel” volunteer services lavished on the Mayor and Her Councillors are incalculable.

What monetary value, for example, would you put on “volunteer”, Ted Woloshyn, McCallion’s personal columnist at the Toronto Sun? Or “volunteer”, Jake Dheer, McCallion’s very own TV station manager? Back to Page 7 of the Code.]

7


END OF PAGE 7 OF THE CODE.   PAGE 8 BEGINS

 

Commentary

Members should be transparent in their dealings with the public, and neither a Member of
Council or the City should handle funds on behalf of any organizations. Members should
remain at arm’s length from the financial aspects of these events and initiatives.

[NOTE. Do you know what “at arm’s length” means? Because I don’t!

And a reminder. I’ve frequently said that Freedom of Information confirms the degree to which City Staff fail to comply with Corporate policies, procedures, by-laws, guidelines and even provincial legislation. I’m also on record as saying that some of the City’s elected officials have “infinite capacity to pervert”. Surely there’s nothing easier to pervert than “at arm’s length”!

Can there be a more deceptive non-unit of measure than the length of an “arm”?! Especially in the Ontario municipal realm of unaccountable spitzbuben?  Back to Page 8 of the Code.]

a) Members may use their office expense budget to run or support local charities and
community events subject to the terms of the Elected Officials’ Expenses policy;

b) Members may urge constituents, businesses and other groups to support community events
put on by others in the Member’s ward or elsewhere in the City;

[CITIZEN ALERT! Re-read b) only this time, replace “community events” with “campaign events in non-election years”. Back to Page 8 of the Code.]

c) Members may work with community groups to assist them in finding sponsors and
participants to support community events put on by the community group in the Member’s
ward or elsewhere in the City.

[CITIZEN ALERT! Need I say this? Re-read b) only this time, replace “community events” with “campaign events in non-election years”. Back to Page 8 of the Code.]

d) Members may play an advisory or membership role in any organization that holds
community events in the Member’s ward; and

[CITIZEN ALERT! By now when you see “community events” you should automatically be converting to “campaign events in non-election years”. Back to Page 8 of the Code.]

e) Members may collaborate with the City and its agencies to hold community events and
may participate in the City’s Festival Funding Review Committee and other events
approved by City Council.

[CITIZEN ALERT! “Community events” = “campaign events in non-election years”. Note: The City’s Festival Funding Review Committee determines what groups are worthy of funding (and by how much) based on their political clout and/or campaign contributions. Best example, compare what the City’s Festival Funding Review Committee granted the Malton Community Festival versus any festival squawking for grant money south of the QEW. Back to Page 8 of the Code.]

2. In the case of exceptions claimed under categories 1. b, e, f, g, h and i,

a) where the value of the gift or benefit exceeds $500, or if the total value received from
any one source during the course of a calendar year exceeds $500, the Members shall
within 30 days of receipt of the gift or reaching the annual limit, list the gift or benefit
on a Councillor Information Statement in a form prescribed by the Integrity
Commissioner, and file it with the Integrity Commissioner.

[NOTE. 2 a’s, “where the value of the gift or benefit exceeds $500” translates to Members accept gifts or benefits not exceeding $499.99 so they won’t have to file with the Integrity Commissioner. Back to Page 8 of the Code.]

b) Subsection a) does not apply to the receipt of up to two tickets to a dinner or
fundraising, as long as the Member is attending only one such event with the same
individual or corporation within any calendar year.

c) For clarification, Members are authorized to receive gifts, mementos and benefits
which are common to receive in the normal course of fulfilling their duties. Members
are not obliged to list on a Councillor Information Statement or anywhere else, a record
of their receipt, unless the total value of such gifts or benefits received from any one
source in a calendar year exceeds $500.

[NOTE. 2 c’s, Regarding, “Members are not obliged to list on a Councillor Information Statement or anywhere else, a record of their receipt, unless the total value of such gifts or benefits received from any one source in a calendar year exceeds $500.”   Told ya! Back to Page 8 of the Code.]

3. On receiving a Councillor Information Statement, the Integrity Commissioner shall
examine it to determine whether the receipt of the gift or benefit might, in the opinion of
the Integrity Commissioner, create a conflict between a private interest and the public duty
of the Member. In the event that the Integrity Commissioner makes that preliminary
determination, he/she shall call upon the Member to justify receipt of the gift or benefit.

8


END OF PAGE 8 OF THE CODE. PAGE 9 BEGINS

 

4. Should the Integrity Commissioner determine the receipt was inappropriate, the Integrity
Commissioner may direct the Member to return the gift, reimburse the donor for the value
of any gift or benefit already consumed, or the Integrity Commissioner may order the
Member to forfeit the gift or remit the value of any gift or benefit already consumed to the
City, or a City agency, board or commission. Any such direction ordered by the Integrity
Commissioner shall be a matter of public record.

5. Beginning April 30, 2011 and quarterly thereafter, each Member shall file a Councillor
Information Statement with Integrity Commissioner and all such statements shall be a
matter of public record.

[NOTE. With Page 9’s Item’s 4 and 5, I’m sure you can feel there’s integrity happening, right?  Back to Page 9 of the Code.]

Commentary

Gifts and benefits are often received by elected officials in the course of their duties and
attendance at public functions is expected and is considered part of their role. Business-related
entertainment and gift-giving can be a token of respect and admiration for the elected official,
but can also be seen as an instrument of influence and manipulation. The object of this rule is
to provide transparency around the receipt of incidental gifts and benefits and to establish a
threshold where the total value could be perceived as potentially influencing a decision.

[NOTE.  Regarding, “gift-giving can be a token of respect and admiration for the elected official, but can also be seen as an instrument of influence and manipulation.” Was there ever a Mississauga “gift-giver” who’d admit his gift was specifically contrived to be an instrument of influence and manipulation?  Back to Page 9 of the Code.]

The practical problems that nominal gifts and benefits create require a Code of Conduct that
provides clarity and transparency. Personal integrity and sound business practices require that
relationships with developers, vendors, contractors or others doing business with the City be
such that no Member of Council is perceived as showing favouritism or bias toward the giver.
There will never be a perfect solution.

[CITIZEN ALERT.  Reminder that I’d warned readers that no word makes it into any of the City’s Corporate documents/communication without the carefullest of deliberation. Reminder too that it’s not what the City tells you that citizens need to know, it’s what they don’t!

The Code’s statement, “Personal integrity and sound business practices require that relationships with developers, vendors, contractors or others doing business with the City be such that no Member of Council is perceived as showing favouritism or bias toward the giver” is true. Personal integrity and sound business practices does require “that no Member of Council is perceived as showing favouritism or bias toward the giver.”

The problem is what the City and this Code don’t tell you: This City was built on unfettered nepotism, cronyism and favouritism! I’m not even sure they could operate aboveboard and truthfully.

Back to Page 9 of the Code.]

Each Member of Council is individually accountable to the public and is encouraged to keep a
list of all gifts and benefits received from individuals, firms or associations, with estimated
values, in their offices for review by the Integrity Commissioner in the event of a complaint.

Those gifts or benefits that exceed $500 or the annual limit of $500 for one source, need to be
kept on a form prescribed by the Integrity Commissioner and filed with the Integrity
Commissioner on a quarterly basis to ensure transparency.

Examples of gifts that are required to be listed on the Councillor Information Statement may
include:

i) property (i.e. a book, flowers, gift basket, painting or sculpture, furniture, wine);

ii) membership in a club or other organization (i.e. a golf club) at a reduced rate or at no
cost;

iii) an invitation to and/or tickets to attend an event (i.e. a sports event, concert, play) at a
reduced rate or no cost;

iv) or an invitation to attend a gala or fundraising event at a reduced rate or at no cost.

Use of real estate or significant assets or facilities (i.e. a vehicle, office, vacation property) at a
reduced rate or at no cost is not an acceptable gift or benefit. Having said that, it has to be

9

END OF PAGE 9 OF THE CODE. PAGE 10 BEGINS

 

recognized that Members of Council will have friends and will develop friendships with
individuals who may from time to time have business relationships that will involve the City in
some way. The purpose of the Code is not to prohibit Members from accepting all invitations
to socialize at a vacation property of personal friends.

[Fair]

Proper caution and diligence must however be exercised when a social function occurs within
close proximity to the individual having an issue before City Council or staff for approval. It
is always prudent to consult with the Integrity Commissioner before accepting or attending at
any such engagements.

[Fair]

Any doubts about the propriety of a gift should be resolved in favour of not accepting it or not
keeping it. It may be helpful to consult with the Integrity Commissioner when a Member
chooses to decline a gift as well as when a recipient may opt to keep a gift.

[Fair]

An invitation to attend a function where the invitation is directly or indirectly with the
Member’s duties of office is not considered to be a gift but is the fulfillment of an official
function or duty. An invitation to attend a function with a developer or supplier, however,
could be seen as allowing the giver an opportunity to influence the elected official. Such
invitations should only be accepted if the invitation is within the scope of permissible gifts and
benefits, meaning that Members should not consistently accept invitations from the same
individual or corporation and should avoid any appearance of favouritism.

[Hmmm. The Mississauga Chinese Business Association comes to mind here…. Back to Page 9 of the Code.]

For clarification, an invitation to an event celebrating the successful completion of a
development or project or the opening of a new business within the Member’s ward on the
other hand could serve a legitimate business purpose and be seen as part of the responsibilities
of office provided the person extending the invitation or that person’s representative is in
attendance.

[Fair]

An invitation to attend a charity golf tournament or fund-raising gala, provided the Member of
Council is not consistently attending such events as a guest of the same individual or
corporation, is also part of the responsibilities of holding public office. Likewise, accepting
invitations to professional sports events, concerts or dinners may serve a legitimate business
purpose. Where a Member is uncertain in regards to whether an invitation is or is not
appropriate, it may be prudent to consult with the Integrity Commissioner before attending any
such event.

[CITIZEN HEADS-UP! Regarding, “provided the Member of Council is not consistently attending such events as a guest of the same individual or corporation”:  http://amazing-women.ca   Back to Page 9 of the Code.]

Regular invitations to lunch or dinner with persons who are considered friends of Members of
Council is acceptable in situations where the Member pays their portion of the meal expense
and treats it as a personal expense, meaning a claim is not made under the Elected Officials’
Expenses policy. Proper caution and diligence not to discuss matters before the City for a
decision must be exercised at all times. Again, when in doubt it is prudent to consult with the
Integrity Commissioner.

[CITIZEN ALERT. Regarding, “Proper caution and diligence not to discuss matters before the City for a decision must be exercised at all times.” Like that’s enforceable.]

10

END OF PAGE 10 OF THE CODE.

Signed,

MISSISSAUGAWATCH

TOM URBANIAK MISSISSAUGA "media-barren environment" HAZEL MCCALLION, RON LENYK (former publisher Mississauga News) JAKE DHEER (station manager ROGERS CABLE 10 Mississauga) and "Friend of Hazel" TED WOLOSHYN (TORONTO SUN columnist
“To regain her power, expect McCallion to essentially build Team Hazel, for next year’s election. Team Hazel
would consist of four sitting councillors and seven candidates hand-selected by the Hurricane, who back the mayor.”

—Ted Woloshyn, Toronto Sun


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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