MAYOR PROPOSES COOLING-OFF PERIOD FOR DEPARTING MEMBERS OF COUNCIL
Limiting the ability of departing Council members as well as Mayors to lobby City Hall could take a significant step forward if Council supports a motion to be introduced next week by Mayor Brian Bowman and seconded by Councillor Matt Allard, Councillor for St. Boniface and Acting Deputy Mayor.
“I believe it is essential that as members of City Council we put public interests before private and self-interest,” said Mayor Brian Bowman. “I also believe there should be a period of time immediately following our departure from public office where this principle continues in order to guard against conflict of interest as well as the perception of conflict of interest.”
“Cooling off rules will provide additional assurance that elected officials are making decisions exclusively in the public interest until the last day on the job,” said Councillor Allard. “Thank you Mayor Bowman for your leadership with yet another concrete action to strengthen accountability at City Hall.”
Mayor Bowman plans to introduce a notice of motion next week requesting that the Province of Manitoba amend The City of Winnipeg Charter to restrict departing members of Council, as well as the Mayor, from certain employment and lobbying activities for a period of time following their leave of office.
This restriction, commonly referred to as a cooling-off period, is already in place provincially. Provincial legislation restricts outgoing Cabinet ministers, deputy ministers, assistant deputy ministers, as well as senior officers of Crown agencies from certain employment and activities for a period of one year following their leave of office.
“It makes sense that restrictions in place provincially should also apply to members of Council as well as the Mayor,” said Mayor Bowman. “I believe this is another step we can take to restore trust, change City Hall for the better, and I hope my Council colleagues will support a request of the province to make this legislative amendment.”
Introducing a cooling-off period would complement several important changes that have already been made to improve openness, transparency, and trust at City Hall. This includes hiring an Integrity Commissioner, creating a voluntary lobbyist registry, expanding on-line streaming of Council and Committee meetings as well as the recent development of a Practices and Procedures Manual for the Board of Revision.
Mayor Bowman said that in addition to introducing a cooling-off period, he recently recommended to the Integrity Commissioner that the Code of Conduct for Councillors be amended to require all gifts received by elected members, no matter their value, be reported publicly. Currently, the minimum value for reporting single gifts or gifts received by elected members from one source within a calendar year is $250.
The Integrity Commissioner is in the process of drafting a new Code of Conduct for Members of Council, and has been meeting with Members of Council individually, as well as a group, to receive input on ways each Member feels the Code of Conduct could be revised.
The City Solicitor has indicated that introducing a cooling-off period for members of Council and the Mayor cannot be facilitated through the Code of Conduct and that legislative amendments are required.
“I want the new Code of Conduct to set a high transparency level for City Council, and I was very pleased to have had a chance to provide recommendations to the Integrity Commissioner.”
Mayor Bowman thanked the Integrity Commissioner for all her work so far, noting there has been a very high level of engagement with Council on a revised Code of Conduct.
“I look forward to reviewing the recommended changes to the Code of Conduct when they are brought forward for Council approval later this fall,” said Mayor Bowman.
WORDING OF THE MOTION
WHEREAS Members of Council must perform their functions with integrity, impartiality and transparency, putting the public interest before private and self-interest;
AND WHEREAS Members of Council must not act in situations in which they have a real or apparent conflict of interest, whether during a meeting of Council or Committee of Council or at any other time while performing their official duties;
AND WHEREAS Members of City Council should adhere to this principle during their time in office as well as the time immediately following their leave of office;
AND WHEREAS the Integrity Commissioner has been preparing a new Code of Conduct for Members of Council;
AND WHEREAS the Integrity Commissioner has been meeting with Members of Council individually, as well as a group, to receive input on ways each Member felt the Code of Conduct could be revised;
AND WHEREAS The Legislative Assembly and Executive Council Conflict of Interest Act restricts Cabinet Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Assistant Deputy Ministers, as well as senior officers of Crown agencies from certain employment and activities for a period of one year following their leave of office;
AND WHEREAS Members of Council should be subject to a one year cooling off period consistent with provincial officials;
AND WHEREAS the City Solicitor has advised that legislative changes are necessary in order to impose and enforce a cooling off period for Members of Council including the Mayor.
BE IT RESOLVED that Winnipeg City Council request that the Province of Manitoba amend The City of Winnipeg Charter Act to require a one year cooling off period for Members of Council, including the Mayor, in a manner that is consistent with the cooling off period currently in place for provincial officials.