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The McCallion Letters

Examining The City of Mississauga’s Council Code of Conduct. (Part 5) WTF?! “information deemed to be ‘personal information’ under the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act”?!

January 10th, 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.

Examining The City of Mississauga’s Council Code of Conduct. (Part 3) Beware “community events”, “volunteer services”, “arm’s length”… Pages 7 through 10 of the Code.

Examining The City of Mississauga’s Council Code of Conduct. (Part 4) “providing persons…with an understanding and appreciation of the City of Mississauga or the workings of its municipal government”  Pages 11 through 13 of the Code.

Again, for the record, 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 14 begins)


Rule No. 4

Confidential Information:

Confidential Information includes information in the possession of, or received in confidence
by, the City of Mississauga that the City is either prohibited from disclosing, or is required to
refuse to disclose, under the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act
(“MFIPPA”)
, or any other legislation.

[Reminder of what Mayor Hazel McCallion told the Traditional Media in an April 14, 2010 scrum:

“Well, I don’t think there’s —today, I don’t think there’s nothing confidential. There’s absolutely nothing confidential. Freedom of Information —you can get anything you want.”

Here it is, almost two years later and I still don't know if McCallion's, "There’s absolutely nothing confidential. Freedom of Information —you can get anything you want." was a lie or just another example of how little she knows about provincial legislation and her own City's Corporate policies. Back to Page 14 of the Code.]

MFIPPA restricts or prohibits disclosure of information received in confidence from third
parties of a corporate, commercial, scientific or technical nature, information that is personal,
and information that is subject to solicitor-client privilege.

The Municipal Act, 2001 allows information that concerns personnel, labour relations,
litigation, property acquisitions and security of the property of the City or a local board, and
matters authorized in other legislation including MFIPPA, to remain confidential. For the
purposes of the Code of Conduct, “confidential information” includes this type of information.

1. As elected officials, Members of Council will receive highly sensitive and confidential
information concerning residents who need their assistance. This is consistent with the
nature of the Members’ duties. In accordance with the City’s Elected Officials’ Records
policy, Councillor constituency records are at all times under the control of the Member
and are not subject to any municipal disclosure requirements.

2. The following are examples of the types of information that a Member of Council must
keep confidential:

• items under litigation, negotiation, or personnel matters;
• information that infringes on the rights of others (e.g. sources of complaints where the
identity of a complainant is given in confidence);
• price schedules in contract tender or request for proposal submissions if so specified;
• information deemed to be “personal information” under the Municipal Conflict of
Interest Act; and

[The City of Mississauga's Code of Conduct has gone through dozens of readings since a draft code first appeared in June, 2010. Yet there's clearly a mistake. The bullet, "• information deemed to be 'personal information' under the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act" should read, "• information deemed to be 'personal information' under the Municipal Freedom of Information and Privacy Act".

Fact is, there are only two instances of the word "personal" in the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act with both referring to "personal financial gain". And the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act doesn't contain the word "information" at all.

That said, should a citizen wish to file a privacy complaint with the Integrity Commissioner, don't be deterred believing that the City's erroneous statement, "information deemed to be 'personal information' under the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act" prevents you. The province defines "personal information" through its Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and all Ontario municipalities must comply. Back to Page 14 of the Code.]

• statistical data required by law not to be released (e.g. certain census or assessment
data)

3. Where it is clear that a communication was not made in a confidential manner (i.e. copied
to others, or made in the presence of others) or the manner of communication undermines
the validity of labelling it “Confidential”, such communication will not be given any
higher level of confidentiality than any other communication. The words “Privilege”,
“Confidential” or “Private” will not be understood to preclude the appropriate sharing of
the communication for the limited purpose of reviewing, responding or looking into the
subject-matter of the communication.

[CITIZEN ALERT! From bitter experience I've learned that every Corporate Report that I've examined or taken for a "test drive" has at least one massive loophole from which City Staff or Elected Officials can hide or seek exemption. Now's the time to marvel at Item 3's 85 meticulously-selected words that really mean, "Screw the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, WE DECIDE WHAT'S CONFIDENTIAL OR NOT! Back to Page 14 of the Code.]

14

END OF PAGE 14 OF THE CODE. PAGE 15 BEGINS

 

4. Under the Council Procedure By-law, a matter that has been discussed at an in-camera
(closed) meeting remains confidential, until such time as a condition renders the matter
public.

a. No Member shall disclose the content of any such matter, or the substance of
deliberations, of the in-camera meeting until the Council or Committee discusses the
information at a meeting that is open to the public or releases the information to the
public.

b. No Member shall disclose or release by any means to any member of the public, any
confidential information acquired by virtue of their office, in either oral or written
form, except where required by law or authorized by Council to do so.

c. No Member shall use confidential information for personal or private gain, or for the
gain of relatives or any person or corporation. For example, no Member should
directly or indirectly benefit, or aid others to benefit, from knowledge respecting
bidding on the sale of City property or assets.

d. Members of Council should not access or attempt to gain access to confidential
information in the custody of the City unless it is necessary for the performance of their
duties and is not prohibited by Council policy.

 

15

END OF PAGE 15 OF THE CODE.

 

 

Well, given that Rule No. 4 Confidential Information, contained the City of Mississauga’s 85-word caveat:

“3. Where it is clear that a communication was not made in a confidential manner (i.e. copied to others, or made in the presence of others) or the manner of communication undermines the validity of labelling it “Confidential”, such communication will not be given any higher level of confidentiality than any other communication. The words “Privilege”, “Confidential” or “Private” will not be understood to preclude the appropriate sharing of the communication for the limited purpose of reviewing, responding or looking into the subject-matter of the communication.”

citizens will find the Code’s Rule No. 4‘s, “such communication will not be given any higher level of confidentiality than any other communication” to be classic MYTHissaugaspeak: wordsmithed to lead the public into thinking one thing when the reality is quite the opposite.

And checking the Mississauga Judicial Inquiry’s report, “UPDATING THE ETHICAL INFRASTRUCTURE” section on the Council Code of Conduct, there’s no mention of the Code’s Rule No. 4 Confidential Information. Clearly confidentiality wasn’t part of the Inquiry’s mandate. Oh well…

 

Signed,

MISSISSAUGAWATCH

UPDATE: January 11, 2012. The following email was sent to the Mayor, the City Solicitor and cc’d to the City Clerk for inclusion in the next Council agenda.

From: MISSISSAUGA WATCH <mississauga_watch@yahoo.com>
To: MAYOR <mayor@mississauga.ca>
Cc: Mary Ellen Bench; Crystal Gree>; “mississauga_watch@yahoo.com” <mississauga_watch@yahoo.com>
Sent: Tuesday, January 10, 2012 9:40 PM
Subject: Error in the Mississauga Council Code of Conduct Page 14

[Hi Ms. Greer. I ask that you include this email in the January 18, 2012 Council agenda/minutes. Thanks].Hi Madam Mayor,Please refer to the Council Code of Conduct’s Rule No. 4.Regarding Confidential Information it states:

The Municipal Act, 2001 allows information that concerns personnel, labour relations,
litigation, property acquisitions and security of the property of the City or a local board, and
matters authorized in other legislation including MFIPPA, to remain confidential. For the
purposes of the Code of Conduct, “confidential information” includes this type of information.
• items under litigation, negotiation, or personnel matters;
• information that infringes on the rights of others (e.g. sources of complaints where the
identity of a complainant is given in confidence);
• price schedules in contract tender or request for proposal submissions if so specified;
• information deemed to be “personal information” under the Municipal Conflict of
Interest Act; and

Bullet 4 refers to “personal information” as defined by the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act. The Municipal Conflict of Interest Act does not contain the word, “information” and “personal” appears just twice in the Act, with both references being to “personal financial gain” and not personal/confidential information.

Bullet 4 should read,”information deemed to be ‘personal information’ under the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act; and”

Last, please note that I plan to attend and videotape the January 23, 2012 Governance Committee meeting in Room A at 1:00 pm and all subsequent meetings for a historical record.

Thanks,

Ursula
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)

“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

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