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Latest attempt to nail down Code of Conduct for County councillors

Posted February 27, 2014

Simcoe County's Governance Committee was expected this morning to approve the final draft of the upper tier's first Council Code of Conduct for adoption next month by councillors.

The 12 page policy "provides a standard and common basis for acceptable conduct
and is intended to guide Members of County Council in performing their role of representing the citizens of Simcoe County as a whole." It addresses Accountability and Transparency, Confidentiality; Gifts and Benefits: "no Member shall directly or indirectly solicit any gift or accept/receive a fee, advance, cash, gift, or personal benefit which may be tied or inferred to be tied directly or indirectly to their position or the performance of his/her duties of office unless permitted by the exceptions listed below."

One of the amendments from the first draft includes a provision empowering the Warden to use "censure" as a disciplinary measure for breaches of the code. It also now includes the Governance Committee to "assist the Warden, as required" to examine breaches..." However, according to the minutes from January 28, the Governance Committee removed a section under the heading "Municipal Conflict of Interest Act" which "reminded members to "be aware that some conflicts may be perceived in nature" and would ̉need to be considered on an individual basis..." The minutes state, "The Governance Committee suggested that it might not be appropriate to subject Councillors to a standard higher than that expected by law."

Another key amendment to the original draft now permits, "Occasional or incidental personal use of County computers or similar devices and communication systems is considered acceptable, subject to the provisions of the Municipal Elections Act. Such use may be subject to the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act."

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