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.