By Cole Parkinson
There’s been plenty of discussion in Municipal District of Taber council chambers over the past few months regarding an updated Code of Conduct Bylaw.
At their regular meeting held on Aug. 16, Bylaw No. 1996, the Council Code of Conduct Bylaw, was brought forward for review. After a draft of the Code of Conduct Bylaw prepared by Caron & Partners (Jennifer Sykes) was brought forward in closed session at council’s July 19 meeting, a motion to accept the draft was carried. The M.D. has been consulting with Caron & Partners law firm since May 2022. One question raised by council was around when complaints were received.
“I just wondered about the order, and perhaps it’s semantics, on who would receive the complaint and then the appointment of a review committee?” asked Deputy Reeve Tamara Miyanaga. “We’re putting that onus on the reeve, which is fine if it’s that’s how we’re going to land, but what difference does it make except for the fact they talk about randomly selecting the councillors, but then they can decide if they have bias or not. So could the reeve have bias? It really makes it difficult, which I think was one of the things that came out of the ombudsman’s — how do you not make it political, how do you not have bias? It’s just very challenging.”
Within 28 days from receiving a written complaint, “council will hold a special meeting for the purpose of appointing the review committee” and “the review committee will consist of the reeve plus two other councillors (neither of whom is the respondent). The other two councillors will be selected through a random drawing of names. Others pointed out the bylaw also allowed councillors to voice their opinion if they had a certain bias or not if their name was pulled out to be on the review committee.
“It will always be challenging, but I think what they mean is if you chose myself, any other councillor could say ‘I think John is a little bit more connected’ and I could give my reasons (why or why not),” stated Coun. John DeGroot.
“It doesn’t say the respondent can decline the bias, it says the selected councillors can deny the bias,” added Miyanaga. “The bylaw I think is quite straightforward — it comes from the MGA — but Schedule A, I just need to have some better lines of clarification.”
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