Posted by Phil Andrews
Here's a draft of a possible editorial for the Saturday or Monday edition of the Mercury:
The matter referred to the Guelph city council’s integrity commissioner as a good first test case has yielded an interesting report for council to digest.
In his report to council about the matter referred to him – whether an April 20 story in the Guelph Mercury included evidence of council members breaching their code of conduct – Robert Swayze recommends against carrying out a detailed investigation of the case.
But Swayze also suggests that five city councillors referenced in the story did not do enough to exhaust “internal remedies” at city hall to obtain a report they were seeking before confirming their frustration to the media about being denied quick access to the document. The report the councillors were seeking was one sent to the city by the Ministry of the Environment about the operation of the city’s compost plant.
In his report, Swayze also asserts that the councillors engaged in a negative protest surrounding “the competence or loyalty of Guelph City staff” in this episode. Yet, the Swayze report also suggests “perhaps staff should have released the report a few days earlier” than it was disclosed to council.
Council will determine where – if anywhere – this integrity commissioner review takes it.
Swayze has indicated he’s open to doing a fuller investigation of the case. He also hints that a more thorough investigation would likely lead to certain councillors receiving a warning about their conduct.
That might cheer some members of council and administration too. But it would come at considerable cost.
Swayze’s report finds the relationship between staff and some members of council is “not what it should be” already. The same could be said of the relations between all members of council. Some already wonder whether they can even be publicly critical of majority of council policy leanings without risking a complaint to the commissioner from one of their peers.
Swayze recommends it’s in the best interests of council just to “move on” from this episode but suggests council and senior staff hire a facilitator to do some team building as well.
Council has some divisions. Just about all such bodies do. How it handles this review might indicate how deep these might be.