Caution – Hearing Limitations
While this Article permits a member to receive certain specified gifts and benefits, as a member of an adjudicative body, the members should always keep in mind that they may be required to remove themselves from a hearing on the basis of a conflict of interest or perception of bias as a result of a gift or benefit.
No member shall accept a fee, advance, gift or personal benefit that is connected directly or indirectly with the performance of his or her duties of office, unless permitted by the exceptions listed below.
For these purposes, a fee or advance paid to, or a gift or benefit provided with the member’s knowledge to a member’s spouse, child, or parent, or to a member’s staff that is connected directly or indirectly to the performance of the member’s duties is deemed to be a gift to that member.
The following are recognized as exceptions:
- compensation authorized by law;
- a suitable memento of a function honouring the member;
- a political contribution otherwise reported by law, in the case of members running for office;
- food, lodging, transportation and entertainment provided by provincial, regional and local governments or political subdivisions of them, by the Federal government or by a foreign government within a foreign country, or by a conference, seminar or event organizer where the member is either speaking or attending in an official capacity.
- food and beverages consumed at banquets, receptions or similar events, if:
- attendance serves a legitimate business purpose of the adjudicative board on which the member serves;
- the person extending the invitation or a representative of the organization is in attendance; and
- the value is reasonable and the invitations infrequent; and
- communications that are educational or training materials received from professional associations related to similar tribunals.
These exceptions other than category (c) (political contributions allowable by law), do not apply where such gifts or benefits are provided by lobbyists or their clients or employers (as defined or described in Municipal Code Chapter 140, Lobbying). For these purposes, a lobbyist is an individual, organization or business that:
- is lobbying or causing the lobbying of any public office holder at the City, a local board (restricted definition) or the board of health;
- the member knows is intending to lobby, having submitted or intending to submit a registration to the Lobbyist Registrar for approval to communicate on a subject matter; or
- is maintaining an active lobbyist registration with the City even though not having a current active subject matter registered with the lobbyist registry.
In the case of categories (b) (d) (e) and (f), if the value of the gift or benefit exceeds $300, or if the total value received from any one source during the course of a calendar year exceeds $300, the member shall within 30 days of receipt of the gift or reaching the annual limit, file a disclosure statement with the Integrity Commissioner.
The disclosure statement must indicate:
- the nature of the gift or benefit;
- its source and date of receipt;
- the circumstances under which it was given or received;
- its estimated value;
- what the recipient intends to do with any gift; and
- whether any gift will at any point be left with the City or the adjudicative board.
Any disclosure statement will be a matter of public record.
On receiving a disclosure statement, the Integrity Commissioner shall examine it to ascertain whether the receipt of the gift or benefit might, in her or his opinion, create a conflict between a private interest and the public duty of the member. In the event that the Integrity Commissioner makes that preliminary determination, he or she shall call upon the member to justify receipt of the gift or benefit.
Should the Integrity Commissioner determine that receipt was inappropriate, he or she may direct the member to return the gift, reimburse the donor for the value of any gift or benefit already consumed, or forfeit the gift or remit the value of any gift or benefit already consumed to the City or adjudicative board.
Except in the case of categories (a) and (d) a member may not accept a gift or benefit worth in excess of $500 or gifts and benefits from one source during a calendar year worth in excess of $500.