Back in 2010, the Quebec Government tabled Bill 109.
“This bill places local municipalities and regional county municipalities whose warden is elected by universal suffrage under a new obligation to adopt a code of ethics and conduct applicable to their elected officers and to revise it after each general election. It imposes a further obligation to adopt a code of ethics and conduct applicable to municipal employees.”
Following this Bill, Baie d’Urfé’s present administration decided to comply and came out with a bylaw and I quote from the minutes:
“…. on Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2011 at 7:30 p.m. Notice of motion—bylaw pertaining to the Baie D’Urfé Code of Ethics and Good Conduct for Elected Officials in accordance with the Municipal Ethics and Good Conduct Act. Councillor C. Colomb gives notice of motion that at a subsequent meeting of Council, council intends to adopt a bylaw pertaining to the Baie D’Urfé Code of Ethics and Good Conduct for Elected Officials in accordance with the Municipal Ethics and Good Conduct Act.”
We would now think that we have honest people running our town. Not so fast.
On Sept. 3, 2014, the Quebec Government—Commission Municipale du Québec—took one of our councillors and our municipality to court for conflict of interest. Judges just rendered their judgment last Friday, Dec. 5, and ruled that there was a conflict of interest—Article 5.3.1 of the Code of Ethics—in Baie d’Urfé going on for years. It “seems” that Mayor Tutino and her councillors “did not know” that awarding a snow removal contract to Landcare Inc. which was owned by Councillor Wayne Belvedere was a conflict of interest.
Sadly you would think that our elected officials would have known what a conflict of interest was but they all seem to have acted like it was “not a big issue”. We have a policy guide in place—a bylaw—so why can’t “we” follow it or is it because in certain cases it does not apply. Dishonesty has become so habitual in our society that “we” feel absolutely no remorse for our actions or seek to escape our consequences.
I know that some will now look for angles in denying that there was a conflict of interest in our municipality. Honesty was once born of the perception of what was right and wrong and if honesty is inconvenient today, the new attitude is that “we” just work around it. We seem to have forgotten that honesty and being transparent are still the best policies.
Transparency is the way that taxpayers get access to information regarding decisionmaking and comes with a set of policies and processes that are open and visible. I think the population of Baie d’Urfé deserves to know that the business of the city will always be conducted by our elected officials in the highest ethical standard at all time.
Let’s all hope that Mayor Tutino and her councillors will have the courage to explain to us taxpayers, why this conflict of interest was tolerated all those years and if they can’t I will remember that come the next municipal election.
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