Welland City Council calls on Queen’s Park to act on new municipal conduct enforcement measures

The motion was in support of a policy change being advanced by the Association of Municipalities of Ontario. Pictured: Welland City Council. Photo Credit: City of Welland. 

Welland councillors passed a motion last week calling on the Ford government to update the municipal code of conduct and strengthen enforcement measures. 

The motion was in support of a policy change being advanced by the Association of Municipalities of Ontario.

The AMO is calling for, among other things, allowing for a judge to remove a sitting member of council when recommended by the local integrity commissioner and sanctioned by council. That same policy would bar a removed councillor from seeking a new mandate in the next election.

The focus on these reforms would be to allow for swift action if a member of council commits something like an assault, although other harmful behaviour could also ultimately be covered by new legislation and would elicit less severe enforcement measures.  

The council vote came after a presentation made by The Women of Ontario Say No group, an organization that focuses on holding politicians accountable for committing acts of violence and harassment. 

Emma Mcintosh made the presentation, warning of toxicity and council paralysis if proper tools are not put in place to deal with negative workplace concerns, including harassment and violence. 

Mcintosh made a point of calling on councillors to push for codes of conduct that would be similar to those found in workplaces across Welland and the province. 

Some councillors expressed concern about the implications of removing an elected councillor and barring them from seeking a new term. 

Councillor Graham Speck worried about the impact some of the changes would have on the democratic process and noted that, in most cases, the public could simply choose not to re-elect the councillor facing complaints. 

Councillor Mary Ann Grimaldi, on the other hand, called the changes a “no-brainer.” 

The presentation noted that 206 of Ontario’s 444 municipalities have already signaled their support for proposed reforms. 

Welland is the first municipality in Niagara Region to have a presentation from The Women of Ontario Say No organization made to local council. However, other presentations to Niagara Region municipalities are in the works. 

Legislation like what the AMO is proposing was tabled previously at Queen’s Park by a Liberal Member of Provincial Parliament, but it was voted down by the governing Progressive Conservatives. 

However, Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Paul Calandra has promised the government will table similar legislation, citing concerns with some of the smaller details of the proposed opposition legislation. 

The result of the Welland City Council vote was 7-4, with Mayor Frank Campion voting in favour of the motion. Councillor Tony DiMarco, who has been dogged with scores of ethics and conduct complaints, did not vote. 

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