Are pecuniary interest laws being broken and flouted

Pecuniary Interest

On at least two or three occasions in the last month or so at various meetings I have attended it has come to my attention that a strong case can be made that certain members of our municipal council are both breaking and flouting the law as it relates to pecuniary interest, and that our CAO is allowing them to get away with it.

If one goes back in the minutes of this current municipal council there are numerous instances of councillors excusing themselves from meetings due to having a conflict of interest. According to the Municipal Government Act (MGA) (municipal councils bible) they are doing the right thing. However, where they have consistently and repeatedly broken the Act and are in violation is in not stating what exactly their pecuniary interest is, and having that recorded in the minutes. The ‘general nature’ of their pecuniary interest is not being divulged. This is a mandatory requirement according to the MGA.

The latest example of what I am speaking to here can be found with Councillor Gallant excusing himself in the council meeting minutes of March 26, 2013 (pages 3 & 4).

As you can see he does not state the reason (general nature) for his pecuniary interest as required under the MGA, nor have the others on this council when faced with similar circumstances.

Disclosure of pecuniary interest
172(1) When a councillor has a pecuniary interest in a matter before the council, a council committee or any other body to which the councillor is appointed as a representative of the council, the councillor must, if present,
(a) disclose the general nature of the pecuniary interest prior to any discussion of the matter,

Reasons for disqualification
174(1) A councillor is disqualified from council if
(g) the councillor contravenes section 172;

According to the MGA, a councillor can be removed (disqualified) from office for this violation. Yet this rule is repeatedly broken with no charges laid nor penalties imposed despite written requests having been made to our CAO to put an end to this practice, and to enforce the law (MGA) as it relates to pecuniary interest. Yet this practice continues, as evidenced by the minutes of March 26 above. How is this possible?

With a municipal inspection presently on its way maybe the inspectors should be looking into this, wouldn’t you say?

 

Sometimes what’s right isn’t as important as what’s profitable.

from John Prince
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24 Responses to Are pecuniary interest laws being broken and flouted

  1. John

    I remember when I sat on Council one of my fellow Councilors was an employee of Bridgegate when ever there name came up he always stood up and excused himself stating that he was an employee of the company.

    Dean Ward

  2. This is what the MGA has to say.

    Disclosure of pecuniary interest
    172(1) When a councillor has a pecuniary interest in a matter
    before the council, a council committee or any other body to which
    the councillor is appointed as a representative of the council, the
    councillor must, if present,
    (a) disclose the general nature of the pecuniary interest prior
    to any discussion of the matter,
    (b) abstain from voting on any question relating to the matter,
    (c) subject to subsection (3), abstain from any discussion of
    the matter, and
    (d) subject to subsections (2) and (3), leave the room in which
    the meeting is being held until discussion and voting on
    the matter are concluded.

    Dean Ward

  3. Anonymous says:

    It’s also an issue of transparency. They are also supposed to disclose the “general nature” of their pecuniary interest:

    http://www.municipalaffairs.alberta.ca/documents/msb/conflict_of_interest_2010(1).pdf

    Several have failed to do this properly. See MGA 174-178:

    http://www.qp.alberta.ca/1266.cfm?page=m26.cfm&leg_type=Acts&isbncln=9780779756155&display=html

  4. John Prince says:

    Dean @6:10
    You beat me to the punch. I was just about to post what you did when I noticed your comment in my Comments Awaiting Moderation. So much for a late dinner. :-)

    172(1)(a) says it all. Why these guys are allowed to get away with what they are doing is beyond me. And why the CAO is doing nothing about this as well is beyond me too, especially since he has been given a written heads-up on this matter.

    JP

  5. Anonymous says:

    And the next CAO is… ?

  6. Anonymous says:

    174(1) A councillor is disqualified from council if

    (g) the councillor contravenes section 172;

    175(1) A councillor that is disqualified must resign immediately.

  7. Anonymous says:

    After a Token investigation any blame will be deflected by our Mare to the CAO just before the election.. see ya Myron.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Oops, did not see that bus coming.

  9. Anonymous says:

    BTW, from the website:
    “April 8 Special Council Meeting – 3:00 pm”

    MGA 194(3) The chief elected official calls a special council meeting by giving at least 24 hours’ notice in writing to each councillor and the public stating the purpose of the meeting and the date, time and place at which it is to be held.

    Another bothersome legality that doesn’t apply to Himself’s Worship.

  10. Anonymous says:

    There is an 8 page brochure “Conflict of Interest Guidelines for Municpal Councillors” linked on Municipal Resource Handbook which explains this in plain English:

    If you have a pecuniary interest:
    -you are to disclose that you have an interest and its general nature
    -you are to abstain from any discussion of the matter and from voting
    -you are to leave the room until the matter has been dealt with, and
    -you should make sure that your abstention is recorded in the minutes.

    For example, you might say “Mr. Mayor, I am
    abstaining on this matter because I am a
    shareholder in the company. I am leaving the
    room and I ask that my abstention be
    recorded.”

    Several of them have failed to do this right. Also there are all those “informal” meetings where no minutes were kept, so no place to record conflicts.

    BTW, you mean “flout”, not “flaunt”. Common error. One of my many pet peeves.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Think that it may be in a certain telephone booth in Coleman?

  12. John Prince says:

    Anon @9:39
    “Flaunt vs. flout.”

    Correction made. Thanks! ;-)

    JP

  13. Anonymous says:

    “Flout”, hmmm….you learn something everyday!

  14. Anonymous says:

    This is call INTENTIONNAL MISTAKES in french it call organized fuck-up.Take my word for this i seen it before.

  15. Anonymous says:

    It is the responsibility of individual councillors to disclose their interests, but:

    172(5) The abstention of a councillor under subsection (1) and the disclosure of a councillor’s interest under subsection (1) or (4) must be recorded in the minutes of the meeting.

    Keeping proper minutes is the CAO’s responsibility.

  16. Anonymous says:

    What I would like to know, is how you make your typing “bold,” or “italic” in these comment boxes!? Is that what those HTML tags are for? If not, what are they??

    experiment

    Oh! A little googling and I figured it out. What on earth will I learn tomorrow!?

  17. Anonymous says:

    If there were no weekenders to buy the entire surplus of houses of our declining population – these houses would have been boarded up and costing money to the rest of the community. The remaining taxpayers would have to pay more and services would have to be cut. We are very fortunate to have these weekenders to share our tax burden with us. Look at what happens to towns all over the US, and a few less desirable areas of Canada, when population numbers decline. Also, many of the houses which are owned by people from out of town are rented to people who need rental accommodations, so in this way they are also contributing to the needs of the community. The weekender/non-weekender conversation is based most of the time on ignorance – and we can all do with less of that.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Very well stated anon 1:20. Thank you.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Yes, very well stated anon 1:20. Not sure why weekenders are disliked so much in the CNP? If all the weekenders pack up and get out of here, it would be a sorry state indeed. Someone running in the October election should take a stand and be the “weekenders voice”. Reading some of the comments on CNP blogs, which perspective buyers/ weekenders have full access to, really paints a narrow minded hillbilly view and certainly does not encourage people to invest and move here.

  20. Anonymous says:

    6:46 No need to worry. Crowsnest Pass is, and always has been, a very welcoming and friendly community. We may be a bit “hillbilly,” but this part of our local charm. There may be a few people with some strange ideas, but you will find these kinds of situations anywhere. So don’t let a few strange apples colour the entire barrel.

  21. Anonymous says:

    The CAO does not record the minutes.
    The recording secretary does. She
    did record the minutes correctly.
    The councillor did not disclose his pecuinary interest.

  22. Anonymous says:

    I’ve noticed that whenever they discuss the landfill, Saindon sits
    tight and even participates in the discussion. Even when they’re talking about future plans such as regional partnerships, participation in SAEWA or other things that would directly affect the management of the landfill, he
    never leaves. I certainly don’t know what the arrangements of his salary are, but as manager of that site, couldn’t the argument be made that the outcome of the landfill affects his employment and therefore his pecuniary interest? Just wondering… This is something that has bothered me for some
    time, but no one ever mentions it.

    I know Gary Taje when on council used to always excuse himself whenever Bridgegate business came up, stating he was an employee of said company. Why isn’t Saindon doing the same? He’s an employee of the landfill.

  23. Anonymous says:

    I am not sure who came up with the “weekender” stigma in the first place. No need for it. And yes, for true, some people are very very strange in CNP. But on the whole they are not too bad. Just a lot of old ideas that some people cannot give up. I would really like to see someone young run for mayor, maybe who has been here a few years. Or… maybe a woman.

  24. Anonymous says:

    I don’t want them young, old, pretty, ugly, male, female or anything. What I do want is someone who is willing to listen to the people, the people who put them in office, and the people who pay the taxes. I’m not voting for an age, or a gender, or a fat faced arrogant bully again. No Way.

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