News

Barrick wants conduct probes halted

By Bill Sawchuk, St. Catharines Standard

There are more than 20 code of conduct investigations underway regarding Niagara Regional councillors. File photo

There are more than 20 code of conduct investigations underway regarding Niagara Regional councillors. File photo

Port Colborne Coun. David Barrick wants to call a halt to all of Niagara Region’s code of conduct investigations.

Barrick, who serves as the chairman of the Region’s corporate services committee, accepted a suggestion from St. Catharines Coun. Andy Petrowski asking the investigations into code of conduct violations “be put in abeyance.”

There are more than 20 investigations underway.

The reason: Petrowski — who is the subject of at least three of the complaints — said he has contacted his own lawyers about the current code of conduct. They have told him they don’t believe it conforms with federal and provincial laws.

No vote was taken.

Barrick accepted Petrowski’s suggestion and directed staff to answer Petrowski’s constitutional questions. Barrick also approved Petrowski’s proposal to stop the investigations — which are being conducted by interim integrity commissioner David Mascarin — in the meantime.

Just as Barrick was about to bring down the gavel on the meeting, Pelham Mayor Dave Augustyn stood up.

Augustyn: “Are you saying that without a motion on the floor, without voting, we have one councillor asking for a legal opinion on something, and it will hold up all of the integrity commissioner’s work? Is that what just happened?”

Barrick: “The request was made. Staff is taking the direction. Given the nature of the request and the direction, it is prudent. That information may be material to the requests that are in the hopper right now.”

Augustyn: “And the direction was to find out if the code of conduct follows the Charter of Rights and Freedoms of this country. Is that correct?”

Barrick: “That’s my understanding.

Augustyn: “I just find it highly unusual, chair. I would encourage that perhaps there would be a vote of committee — as opposed to a simple request from a councillor.”

Barrick: “I appreciated your opinion, but it has been accepted as staff direction. I think that is sufficient.”

Petrowski said he wants Region CAO Carmen D’Angelo and the Region’s legal counsel Sterling Wood to determine if the current code conforms to the Charter.

“It might affect the outcome of the complaints,” Petrowski said.

Wood told the committee he is not a constitutional expert. He would likely have to bring in outside legal expertise.

No one questioned how much it would cost.

“Even then, it would be, as with your private council, an opinion,” Wood told Petrowski. “Ultimately, only the court can determine that — if somebody challenges it.”

bsawchuk@postmedia.com

 

Current code of conduct for members of council

All members of council shall observe the highest standard of ethical conduct and are expected to:

1. Act honestly, independently, impartially, with discretion and without regard to self-interest

2. Avoid any situation liable to give rise to a conflict of interest

3. Be mindful of the importance of their duties and responsibilities

4. Take into account the public character of their function

5. Conduct themselves in a way that maintains and promotes the public’s trust in the Regional Municipality of Niagara

6. Serve their constituents in a conscientious and diligent manner

7. No member shall use the influence of office for any purpose other than the exercise of his or her official duties. 



Featured Businesses

Go to the Marketplace »