Protocol for responding to requests for information from candidates for the October 22, 2018 municipal election
Provide consistent, timely, and transparent responses to requests for information from candidates.
In the interest of providing consistent and timely responses, staff must refer requests for information about the City, its programs and services, from all candidates by email to email@example.com. The goal is to respond to every request as soon as possible, but within three full business days.
In some cases in which the requested information is readily available, Strategic Communications may direct Divisions to respond directly to candidates and copy firstname.lastname@example.org on the response.
Strategic Communications will keep the City Manager, Deputy City Managers, and appropriate Division Heads informed by maintaining a log of all requests for information from candidates and the responses provided.
Responses will be provided in writing and posted on the City’s election webpage in a question and answer format, without revealing the source of the request. This gives all candidates access to the same information.
When information is not available or cannot be provided within a reasonable period, Strategic Communications will ask the division for an explanation and then advise the requestor.
Staff should only provide public information that can be routinely or automatically released without the need for a Freedom of Information Act request. Under the City’s routine disclosure guidelines, Divisions have established plans for the release of information. Within the guidelines, information can be routinely or automatically released without the need for a Freedom of Information Act request. In such cases, Divisions will provide the candidate with the requested information and copy the email@example.com e-mail box. To see the types of records routinely available to the public, each City Division has posted their routine disclosure plans, which can be accessed on each Division’s home page.
If the information requested would normally be provided through a freedom of information request, it must follow that prescribed process. Under the City’s routine disclosure guidelines, Divisions have established plans for the release of information.
Coordinating requests in this manner allows the City administration to ensure responses include all possible material or information that is being requested. It will also ensure responses are open and transparent and that other candidates who ask for the same information will be provided with it consistently.
Staff who are contacted by a Member of Council for information will be required to ascertain whether the information is requested by the individual as a candidate or as a Member of Council, since some members of Council are also candidates.
Divisional staff may continue to respond to requests for information, as they normally do, from City councillors in their role as elected officials. However, please send an email to the firstname.lastname@example.org about all requests from Councillors as candidates.
Any requests by candidates for personal meetings with Division Heads or other staff, and requests for tours of City facilities, cannot be accommodated due to resource and time constraints. If this were provided to one candidate, it would have to be provided to all candidates.
The Municipal Elections Act, 1996 makes it an offence for a municipality to contribute money, goods or services for use in an election campaign and the City’s policy on the Use of Corporate resources during an Election prohibits the use of City resources for election-related purposes.
As the municipal election draws near, please note that Strategic Communications cannot guarantee that it will be able to respond in advance of the election to candidates’ questions received by the email@example.com mailbox after 9 a.m., Tuesday, October 16, 2018. This is due to the time it may take Strategic Communications staff to coordinate a response/respond to the candidates’ queries within the prescribed three-business day timeframe, as previously outlined in this protocol.