Red Dee rcity council now has a Code of Conduct Bylaw mandated by the provincial government.
Council members already had policy regarding their conduct, but last year, the province decided all municipalities had to adopt a Code of Conduct Bylaw.
Council voted seven-to-one in favour of the bylaw that establishes standards for the ethical conduct of council members relating to their roles and obligations as representatives of the municipality, and a procedure for the investigation and enforcement of those standards.
Mayor Tara Veer, who was speaking at a conference in Ottawa, was absent from the vote held Monday.
Only Coun. Buck Buchanan voted against the bylaw saying he was unsure council could live with what it has created.
“I think we’ve gone over the top to plug all the holes before the holes happen,” Buchanan said.
“We already had a code of conduct — we’ve gone to the code of conduct on steroids.”
He said in the haste to get it done before the July deadline, the bylaw has created a lot of unknowns.
For example, exactly who investigates conduct complaints was not set out in the bylaw.
Training attendance is set out in the bylaw, but Buchanan said training after the most recent election included training he had previously completed.
“You’re obligated to do it or kick in the offence section.”
There is provision to allow for some flexibility, but it’s unclear who makes that decision, he said.
He said during his time on council, a conflict of interest concern regarding work he did for the city prior to his election was determined to be unfounded. He was also cleared after he was mistakenly registered as a board member for an organization instead of an associate member.
“I’m probably going to be the first one that’s going to challenge the code of conduct and let’s see where that falls,” Buchanan said.
Coun. Michael Dawe agreed council was a bit rushed to meet the provincial deadline, but watching the low standard of behaviour occurring nationally and internationally makes him very sad and uncomfortable.
“I think we want to raise the standard of the way we conduct ourselves in public life. We want to make sure we do things honourably and in good faith, and not maliciously, or to financially or otherwise benefit ourselves,” Dawe said.
He supported the bylaw, but said it’s important to be careful of misinterpretations.
“We could have debated some of the wording and some of the implications a little more carefully,” Dawe said.
Coun. Tanya Handley said the bylaw strengthens the rules of conduct, and, if necessary, it can be tweaked in the future.
“I think that the best time to decide how we will behave during conflict is when we’re at peace.”