North Perth appoints new integrity commissioner

NORTH PERTH – A new integrity commissioner was appointed at the North Perth council meeting on Dec. 19.

An integrity commissioner reports to council and “is responsible for performing in an independent manner the functions assigned by the municipality with respect to the following areas...” states the Municipal Act. These areas include: the application of the code of conduct for members of council and local boards; the application of any procedures, rules and policies of the municipality and local boards governing the ethical behaviour of members of council and local boards; requests from members of council and local boards for advice respecting their obligations under the code of conduct applicable to the member; requests from members of council and local boards for advice respecting their obligations under a procedure, rule or policy of the municipality or of the local board, as the case may be, governing the ethical behaviour of members; requests from members of council and of local boards for advice respecting their obligations under the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act; and the provision of educational information to members of council, members of local boards, the municipality and the public about the municipality’s code of conduct for members of council and local boards and about the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act.

“In the absence of an appointed integrity commissioner, the municipality is required to make arrangements for all of the responsibilities set out in the Act to be provided by a commissioner of another municipality,” stated the report presented to council on Dec. 19, outlining the new appointment of an integrity commissioner.

The municipality’s current integrity commissioner is Gregory Stewart, who was appointed through a joint agreement with the Township of Perth East. Stewart’s term ends Dec. 31, 2022 and he is no longer offering integrity commissioner services.

In preparation for Stewart’s term ending as the integrity commissioner, a joint Request for Proposal for these services was issued in November 2022 by the Township of Perth East and the Municipality of North Perth.

Only one bid was submitted in response to this proposal, and following their evaluation, staff recommended council appoint Guy W. Giorno of Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP as the municipality’s new integrity commissioner starting in January 2023, for a four-year term.

“Mr. Giorno has extensive municipal law experience and provides integrity commissioner services to other Ontario municipalities, including Wellington County, Mapleton, North Dumfries and Puslinch. As a municipal integrity commissioner, Mr. Giorno has handled numerous code of conduct complaints, conducted investigations, issued reports, presented to municipal councils on codes of conduct and conflicts of interest, and has advised municipalities on ethics issues,” explains the report.

Integrity commissioner services are on an as-needed basis, so financial implications are unknown and will be dependent on the total number of complaints and requests for advice. Giorno charges a rate of $300 per hour for this service.

When it is more cost and time efficient, a junior member of the team can be asked to conduct research, review documents and interview witnesses at a reduced rate of $250 per hour.

The bylaw was passed that appointed Guy W. Giorno as the integrity commissioner for North Perth at the council meeting on Dec. 19.

Melissa Dunphy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Listowel Banner