In the past couple of years, there have been a couple of egregious pecuniary and conflict of interest violations in Saskatchewan municipalities: the RM of Sherwood where the Reeve made a profit of more than $50 million on an RM land deal, and recently, allegations that an RM councillor (not Kindersley) made significant profit based on his land sale in his role as councillor.
In response to the RM of Sherwood, the Province is changing conflict of interest requirements and rules. This will affect all municipally elected officials. If you are considering running for Council next year, please keep these requirements in mind:
More detailed declaration of conflicts of interest
- There will be greater disclosure including relevant information that could affect a councillor’s ability to act on behalf of the municipality rather than their self.
Mandatory public disclosure statements be filed by all members of council
- This will include details of contracts for land leases and sales and includes family members.
Adoption of model code of ethics,
- Each Council must have a code of ethics. We have a code of conduct (GP.5.) that may need to be strengthened.
Greater clarity regarding conflict of interest, private interest, and inappropriate use of office and influence,
- Currently there is some ambiguity around this because some officials use their office to advance their own interests rather than the municipalities.
The Provincial Ombudsman’s mandate will be expanded to include municipal officials enabling any person to complain about alleged conflict of interest or code of ethics breaches. The Ombudsman may investigate if warranted and issue a report resulting in the Minister acting on the report.
Other amendments include giving the Minister the authority to not only remove elected officials from municipal office but also suspending them for up to 12 years.
I’m embarrassed to say that some of these changes are needed and that the enforcement is required as well. Generally, municipal officials are well-meaning and caring people who want their municipality to thrive and prosper. However, there is always the exception that proves the rule.
Please write or phone if you would like me to discuss a particular topic. If you have any questions or comments, drop me a line at the town office or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also check out my blog at johnenns-wind.ca . I appreciate your feedback.