Examining The City of Mississauga’s Council Code of Conduct. (Part 8) Conduct at Meetings/When Representing the City and Media Communications
January 14th, 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 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.
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”?! Pages 14 through 15 of the Code.
Examining The City of Mississauga’s Council Code of Conduct. (Part 7) Improper Use of Influence and Business Relations. Pages 19 through 20 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.
Council Code of Conduct April, 2011 (Page 21 begins)
Rule No. 9
Conduct of Council at Committee Meetings and When Representing the City:
1. Members shall conduct themselves at Council and committee meetings with decorum in
accordance with the provisions of the Council Procedure By-law.
[To read the City of Mississauga’s COUNCIL PROCEDURE BY-LAW 421-03 at the City’s website, please click here. Back to Page 21 of the Code.]
A Member recognizes the importance of cooperation and strives to create an atmosphere
during Council and committee meetings that is conducive to solving the issues before Council,
listening to various points of view and using respectful language and behaviour in relation to
all of those in attendance.
2. Members shall endeavour to conduct and convey Council business and all their duties in an
open and transparent manner other than for those decisions which by virtue of legislation
are authorized to be dealt with in a confidential manner in closed session, and in so doing,
allow the public to view the process and rationale which was used to reach decisions and
the reasons for taking certain actions.
[There’s that reference to “open and transparent manner” again. I’m forever reminded of the most outrageous comment ever to refer to “open”: Councillor Pat Saito, Chair (Mississauga Council meeting, December 13, 2006). In her Christmas address that year, Saito warbled, “And thank you always to Cable 10 for their ongoing volunteer support in making sure that we have a very open and accountable Council. We heard throughout the campaign that this Council was not open, was not accountable, and all those people running were going to make it open and accountable. And I don’t know of any Council that’s as open and accountable as we are.”
Imagine Saito believing that ROGERS Cable 10 manager and McCallion puppet, Jake Dheer made sure that Mississauga had “a very open and accountable Council“. Pat Saito knows that Mississauga Council is no more accountable than any other municipal council in Ontario. Accountable just once at the voting booth every four years! And that’s it! Back to Page 21 of the Code.]
Various statutes, the Council Procedure By-law and decisions by courts and quasi-judicial
tribunals including the Information and Privacy Commission, establish when City Council can
discuss issues in closed session. Transparency requires that Council apply these rules
narrowly so as to best ensure that decisions are held in public session as often as possible.
Unless prohibited by law, Members should clearly identify to the public how a decision was
reached and the rationale for so doing.
[As I keep saying, it’s what Mississauga doesn’t tell you that you need to know. While it’s true that “[v]arious statutes…establish when City Council can discuss issues in closed session”, the Code fails to inform citizens about Bill 130 Amendments to the Municipal Act. Back in December, 2006, true to form, Mississauga Council blocked citizens’ access to closed meeting investigations conducted by the Ontario Ombudsman. Rather, Councillor Pat “I don’t know of any Council that’s as open and accountable as we are” Saito and her Council-colleagues avoided authentic oversight and hired Local Authority Services, a subsidiary corporation of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario to “investigate” closed meeting complaints.
The City of Mississauga hiring its own investigator worked its magic. To this day, no citizen has ever complained about inappropriate in-camera sessions. Back to Page 21 of the Code.]
3. Members shall make every effort to participate diligently in the activities of the
committees, agencies, boards, commissions and advisory committees to which they are
appointed by the City or by virtue of being an elected official.
[PUT A STAR BESIDE THIS ONE! Notice the statement, “Members shall make every effort to participate diligently”? What reasonable person would not agree to “make every effort to participate diligently”? Next question. Think about this: how would a reasonable person define “diligently”? Well, it’s not what you think… Back to Page 21 of the Code.]
Individual Members are appointed to committees, agencies, boards and commissions based on
their various backgrounds and their ability to contribute to matters before them, bringing their
expertise and experience.
4. Given that Council and committee meetings are scheduled far in advance to accommodate
the many activities of elected office of a Member, to participate diligently means that a
Member shall not be absent from Council or committee meetings, or from those of
agencies, boards and commissions to which they are appointed by virtue of their status as a
Member, without reasonable justification (for example, illness of the Member, family
circumstance, Regional business) for more than three consecutive scheduled meetings or
on a regular basis.
[That’s right. Item 3 stated, “Members shall make every effort to participate diligently in the activities of the committees” and then we find out that the Council Code defines diligently as nothing more than “a Member shall not be absent from Council or committee meetings etc etc etc for more than three consecutive scheduled meetings or on a regular basis.”
And here’s the despicable part. The statement that Council Members “are held to a higher standard of behaviour and conduct” appears three times in this Code. And what is the Code’s “higher standard” definition for “participate diligently”? “shall not be absent.. for more than three consecutive scheduled meetings or on a regular basis.”
That’s what I mean by useless paper policies. Just like we discovered about the worthless Municipal Conflict of Interest Act. Citizens are told that “Members shall make every effort to participate diligently” and then are left to assume that’s the same “diligent” in the dictionary — “diligent: characterized by steady, earnest, and energetic effort : painstaking <a diligent worker>” Nope!
All “diligent” means in this Code is, Members are expected to warm up a black leather chair “on a regular basis”! Back to Page 21 of the Code.]
END OF PAGE 21 OF THE CODE. PAGE 22 BEGINS
Rule No. 10
1. Members of Council will accurately communicate the decisions of Mississauga City
Council, even if they disagree with the majority decision of Council, and by so doing
affirm the respect for and integrity in the decision-making processes of Council.
[There’s something absolutely perverse in creating the expectation that “Members of Council will accurately communicate” in a municipality that is as dependent as Mississauga is on misinforming and manipulating the public! Item 1’s “will accurately communicate” is just so fraudulent! Back to Page 22 of the Code.]
2. Members of Council will keep confidential information confidential, until such time as the
matter can properly be made public.
Recognize Item 2 as the Corporate gag order. “[U]ntil such time as the matter can properly be made public” really means “until such time as the matter has been spun, kneaded and cooked to perfection by our Communications Department. Back to Page 22 of the Code.]
A Member may state that he/she did not support a decision, or voted against the decision. A
Member should refrain from making disparaging comments about other Members of Council
or about Council’s processes and decisions.
[“should refrain from making disparaging comments about other Members of Council or about Council’s processes and decisions”… after all, it’s not in the interests of the City for the public to learn the Truth! Back to Page 22 of the Code.]
When communicating with the media, a Member should at all times refrain from speculating
or reflecting upon the motives of other Members in respect of their actions as a Member of
[Good Grief! Hazel McCallion has broken the “When communicating with the media, a Member should at all times refrain from speculating or reflecting upon the motives of other Members” rule about a dozen times since the Code went into effect in December 2010—with Councillors Mahoney and Saito tied as a distant second. Back to Page 22 of the Code.]
While openness in government is critical, governments also must respect confidentiality when
a matter must remain, at least for a period of time, confidential. Breaches of confidentiality by
Members erodes public confidence.
[“Breaches of confidentiality by Members erodes public confidence.” And lying that there aren’t breaches in confidentially erodes public confidence even more.]
END OF PAGE 22 OF THE CODE.
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
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)
“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