Reports to Local Boards (Restricted Definition)
A formal complaint was made by a (now former) member (the “Complainant”) of an Arena (the “Arena”) Board of Management (the “Board”) alleging that the Board Chair (the “Respondent”) contravened Article VIII (Improper Use of Influence) of the Code of Conduct for Members of Local Boards (Restricted Definition) (“Code of Conduct” or the “Code”). The complaint alleged generally that the Respondent had a “conflict of interest” and specifically that she improperly used the influence of her position on the Arena Board to establish an in-house adult women’s hockey program to advance her personal interest in women’s hockey.
The Commissioner conducted an investigation, reviewing documents and interviewing the Arena Manager. The Commissioner found that the Respondent’s conduct did not contravene the Code of Conduct. First, the Commissioner found that the Respondent’s conduct, in supporting an Arena program, was not a private interest, but rather was consistent with the Respondent’s role as a board member. In addition, the Commissioner found that a personal affinity for a particular type of sport (in this case, support for women’s hockey) is a characteristic that is intrinsic to a person and not capable of attracting concern under the Code of Conduct. Further, the Commissioner provided some guidance to Board members that the wish to participate in a program offered by the Arena is clearly an interest of general application, meaning that it affects the Respondent as a local resident and does not constitute a private advantage under Article VIII of the Code, a not uncommon occurrence for members of the City’s arena boards.
The Commissioner also used her discretion to provide the Report to the Board because the issue of the Respondent’s possible “conflict of interest” was discussed by the Board and because the report could assist Board members with understanding their obligations under the Code of Conduct.
Investigation Report Regarding the Conduct of a Former Member of a BIA Board
A former coordinator (the “Complainant”) for the board of management (the “Board”) of a Business Improvement Area (the “BIA”) filed a formal complaint about a member of the Board (the “Respondent”), alleging a contravention of Articles XII (Conduct Respecting Staff) and XIV (Discreditable Conduct) of the Code of Conduct for Members of Local Boards (Restricted Definition) (the “Code of Conduct” or the “Code”). The complaint alleged that the Respondent’s conduct contravened the Code when two emails were sent to the Complainant, other Board members, and a Board contractor, accusing the Complainant of not properly carrying out duties as a then-staff member of the Board and engaging in threats.
The Commissioner found that the emails did not injure staff’s professional or ethical reputation and thus did not find a contravention of Article XII. The Commissioner found that by threatening the Complainant, the Respondent contravened Article XIV’s prohibition against abuse, bullying and intimidation.
Investigation Report Regarding the Conduct of a Former Member of a BIA Board and a Member of Council
Two candidates in the municipal election filed complaints about the conduct of a member (the “Respondent”) of the board of management (the “Board”) of a Business Improvement Area (“BIA”) and a Member of Council who was running for re-election (the “Councillor”) alleging that it was wrong and contrary to the Code of Conduct for Members of Local Boards (Restricted Definition) (the “Board Members’ Code of Conduct” or the “Code”) for the Respondent to endorse the Councillor using the Respondent’s BIA Board member title. The complaints were also concerned that the endorsement contravened the Board’s obligations under the City’s BIA bylaw.
This report reviews the role of BIA Boards and analyzes whether either the Respondent or the Councillor improperly used their influence in contravention of the Board Members’ Code of Conduct and the Code of Conduct for Members of Council, respectively.
The Commissioner found that the Board, as an entity, cannot contravene the Board Members’ Code of Conduct. The Commissioner also found that by giving the endorsement, the Respondent contravened the Code, but that the Councillor did not improperly use any influence because the endorsement was freely given.
Because the Board sanctioned the Respondent by removing the Respondent from its committees and website, the Commissioner reviewed a local board’s authority to impose sanctions on its members for alleged breaches of the Board Members’ Code of Conduct. The Commissioner’s view is that a board can take steps to stop ongoing breaches of the Code, but should not take further action to impose personal consequences on a member without an investigation and findings by the Commissioner. In this case, the Board overstepped its authority.
The Commissioner reported to the Board, but did not recommend any penalty because the Respondent was no longer a Board member, and because in this case, the Respondent had taken measures to prevent the contravention and the contravention was made through inadvertence or an error of judgement made in good faith.