4. General Integrity
4.1. Members are committed to performing their functions with integrity, accountability and transparency.
4.2. Members are responsible for complying with all applicable legislation, by-laws and policies that pertain to their positions as an elected official.
4.3. Members recognize that the public has the right to open government and transparent decision-making.
4.4. Members shall at all times serve and be seen to serve the interests of their constituents and the Township in a conscientious and diligent manner and shall approach decision-making with an open mind.
4.5. Members will conduct their dealings with each other in ways that maintain public confidence in the position to which they have been elected or appointed.
4.6. Members will be open and honest, focus on issues rather than personalities, and avoid aggressive, offensive or abusive conduct.
4.7. Members shall refrain from making disparaging remarks about other members of Council, staff, members of the public, or Council’s decisions.
4.8. Members shall avoid the improper use of the influence of their office and shall avoid pecuniary conflicts of interest, direct or indirect, in accordance with and as defined by the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act and non-pecuniary conflicts of interest.
4.9. Members shall not extend in the discharge of their official duties preferential treatment to any individual or organization if a reasonably well-informed person would conclude that the preferential treatment was solely for the purpose of advancing a private or personal interest.
4.10. For greater clarity, this Code does not prohibit members from properly using their elected office to represent views on behalf of their constituents.
4.11. In accordance with the Municipal Act and the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act, every member shall exercise his or her power and discharge his or her official duties in accordance with the following guiding principles:
a) Seek to advance the common good of the Township;
b) Exercise care, diligence and skill that a reasonable person would exercise in similar circumstances;
c) Exercise his or her powers only for the purposes for which they were intended; and,
d) Truly, faithfully and impartially exercise his or her office to the best of his or her knowledge and ability.
5. Conduct at Council and Committee Meetings
Members shall conduct themselves with decorum at all Township Council and Committee meetings in accordance with the provisions of the Township’s Procedural By-law.
6. Discrimination and Harassment
All members have a duty to treat members of the public, one another, and staff with respect and without abuse, bullying or intimidation, and to ensure that the work environment is free from discrimination and harassment. No member shall engage in a course of vexatious comment or conduct against a worker in a workplace that is known or ought to be known to be unwelcome to any other member, any staff, or any member of the public.
7. Conduct Respecting Staff
7.1. Members shall acknowledge the fact that staff work for the Township as a body corporate and are charged with making recommendations that reflect their professional expertise and corporate objectives. Township Council has the authority to approve budget, policy, governance, and other such matters.
7.2. Under the direction of the Chief Administrative Officer, Township staff serves Council as a whole and the combined interests of all members as evidenced through the decisions of Council as recorded in the minutes and resolutions.
7.3. Members shall acknowledge and respect the fact that staff carry out directions of Council as a whole and administer the policies of the Township, and are required to do so without any undue influence from any individual member or group of members.
7.4. Members shall refrain from publicly criticizing individual members of staff in a way that casts aspersions on their professional or personal competence and credibility. The role of staff is to provide advice and services based on political neutrality, objectivity and professional judgement which may not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of a single member of Council.
7.5. Members of Council have no individual capacity to direct staff to perform specific functions. Inquiries of staff from members of Council should be directed to the Chief Administrative Officer or the appropriate Manager.
7.6. The Municipal Act sets out the roles of members of Council and the municipal administration, including specific roles for statutory/officers such as the Chief Administrative Officer, Clerk, Treasurer and the Integrity Commissioner.
7.7. Members of Council are expected to:
a) Represent the public and to consider the well-being and interests of the Township;
b) Develop and evaluate policies and programs of the Township;
c) Determine which services the Township provides;
d) Ensure the administrative policies, practices and procedures and controllership policies, practices and procedures are in place to implement the decisions of Council;
e) Ensure the accountability and transparency of the operations of the Township, including the activities of the senior management of the Township;
f) Maintain the financial integrity of the Township; and
g) Carry out the duties of Council under the Municipal Act or any other Act.
7.8 Municipal staff are expected to:
a) Implement Council’s decisions and establish administrative practices and procedures to carry out Council’s decisions;
b) Undertake research and provide advice to Council on the policies and programs of the Township; and,
c) Carry out other duties required under the Municipal Act or any Act and other duties assigned by the Township.
7.9. Members shall be respectful of the role of staff to provide advice based on political neutrality, professional judgement and objectivity.
7.10. Members shall not:
a) Maliciously or falsely injure the professional, personal or ethical reputation, or the prospects or practice of staff;
b) Compel staff to engage in partisan political activities or be subjected to threats or discrimination for refusing to engage in such activities; or
c) Use, or attempt to use, their authority or influence for the purpose of intimidating, threatening, coercing, commanding or influencing any staff member with the intent of interfering in staff’s duties.
8. Conduct Respecting Fellow Members
Council Members will establish a working relationship with fellow members that recognizes and respects the diversity of opinion and achieves the best possible outcomes for the community.
a) honour the role of the chair in maintaining order at the table;
b) be respectful that other members (as applicable) have taken the same Oath of Office as they have, and have the right to a different point of view providing it is appropriately and responsibly shared;
c) not publicly speak disrespectfully, disparagingly or negatively about a fellow Member in a way that casts aspersions on their professional or personal competence and credibility;
d) demonstrate a cooperative and effective problem solving approach;
e) practice civility and decorum in discussions and debate.
9. Improper Use of Influence
9.1. As elected officials, members are expected to perform the duties of their office with integrity, accountability and transparency.
9.2. Members should not use the status of their position to influence the decision of another individual to the private advantage of oneself, one’s parents, children, or spouse, staff members, friends, or business or other associates.
9.3. In the same manner and as outlined in the Provincial Offences Act, members shall not attempt to influence or interfere, either directly or indirectly, financially, politically or otherwise with employees, officers or other persons performing duties under the Provincial Offences Act.
10. Use of Municipal Property and Resources
10.1. Members have access to municipal resources such as property, equipment, services, staff and supplies, in order to fulfill their roles as elected or appointed representatives.
10.2. No member shall use, or permit the use of Township property, equipment, services, staff or other resources (such as the Township website) for any activity other than purposes connected with the discharge of Township Council duties or Township Council business.
10.3. No member shall obtain financial gain from the use or sale of Township-developed intellectual property, computer programs, technological innovations, or other kinds of property, while they are an elected or appointed official or thereafter.
10.4. Any equipment or supplies purchased by the Township in the exercise of the member’s duties (e.g. computers, cell phones) is Township Property and will be returned to the Township at the end of a member’s term and/or restitution made as outlined in any relevant policy.
10.5. No member shall use information gained in the execution of his or her duties that is not available to the general public, for any purposes other than his or her official duties.
11. Conduct Respecting Lobbying
Members, as elected or appointed representatives, are often approached by various individuals attempting to influence their decisions. While lobbying is an acceptable practice, members must be aware that it is their responsibility to make decisions based on impartial and objective assessment of each situation, free from the influence of groups, agencies, individuals, associations, or likewise for approval or decision-making.
12. Confidential Information
12.1. All information, documentation or deliberation received, reviewed or taken in closed meetings of Council (and its Committees as applicable) are confidential.
12.2. Members shall not disclose or release by any means to any member of the public either in verbal or written form any personal and confidential information or material acquired by virtue of their office, except when required by law to do so. Where a matter has been discussed in a closed meeting and the information remains confidential, Members shall not disclose the content of the matter or the substance of deliberations of the closed meeting.
12.3. Requests for information should be referred to appropriate staff to be addressed as either an informal request for access to municipal records or as a formal request under the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
13. Gifts, Benefits and Hospitality
13.1. Members are expected to represent the public and the interests of the Township, and to do so with impartiality and objectivity. The acceptance of a gift, benefit or hospitality can imply favouritism, bias, or influence on the part of the member. At times, the acceptance of a gift, benefit or hospitality occurs as part of the social protocol or community events linked to the duties of an elected or appointed official and their representative role of the Township.
13.2. Members shall not accept gifts that would, to a reasonable member of the public, appear to be in gratitude for influence, to induce influence or otherwise to go beyond the necessary and appropriate public functions involved. For these purposes, a gift, benefit or hospitality provided with the member’s knowledge to a member’s spouse, child or parent that is connected directly or indirectly to the performance of the member’s duties is deemed to be a gift to that member.
13.3. Members are not precluded from accepting:
a) Personal gifts, benefits, rewards, commissions or advantages from any person or organization which are wholly unconnected with the performance of the member as an elected or appointed representative;
b) Political contributions that are otherwise offered, accepted and reported in accordance with applicable law;
c) Services provided without compensation by persons volunteering their time;
d) Invitations from charity or not-for-profit organizations to attend their events;
e) Communication to the offices of a member, including subscriptions to newspapers and periodicals;
f) Gifts of a nominal value, defined as a value of under $200 (e.g. baseball cap, t-shirt, book, etc.);
g) Food and beverages at banquets, receptions, ceremonies or similar events;
h) A memento received by a member of Council at a function honouring the member;
i) A memento received as a result of being a speaker, participant or representative of the Township at an event;
j) Gifts or benefits received as a result of social protocol, customs or social obligations that normally accompany the performance of official duties;
k) Food, lodging, transportation and entertainment provided by other levels of government or other local governments, boards or commissions; and,
l) Sponsorships and donations for community events organized or run by a member or a third party on behalf of a member.
13.4. Those gifts received by members which have significant historical value for the Township of Algonquin Highlands shall be left with the Township of Algonquin Highlands when the member ceases to hold office. Should a member have any question or doubt that a gift has significant historical value to the Township, the member should contact the CAO and the appropriate authority will be consulted.
13.5. It is recognized that the extension and acceptance of forms of hospitality (including invitations to events, outings, engagements, performances, etc.) is within the activity suite of members. Any hospitality should fall within the following parameters:
a) Members do not allow themselves to reach a position whereby they might be, or deemed by others to have been, influenced in making a decision as a consequence of the offering or acceptance of such hospitality;
b) It serves a legitimate business purpose related to the responsibilities of the member;
c) The person extending the invitation or a representative of the organization, is in attendance; and,
d) The value and frequency is reasonable.
13.6. Members shall return any gifts or benefits or not accept hospitality, which does not comply with these guidelines, along with an explanation of why the gifts, benefits, or hospitality cannot be accepted.
14. Social Media
14.1. The Township recognizes that social media applications are widely being utilized as communication tools with the potential to provide the public with timely information. Such information is necessary for all who live, work and play in the Township of Algonquin Highlands and the Township is committed to disseminating information in a range of formats to reach a variety of audiences.
14.2. Members who choose to participate in social media communications regarding Township business activities will conduct themselves in accordance with the following:
a) By using a Member’s municipal email address, communicating in an official capacity, or discussing municipal business on corporate social media sites constitutes conducting municipal business;
b) Members will conduct themselves in a positive, professional, honest, ethical and fair manner at all times and in accordance with this policy and all related policies in the best interest of the Corporation;
c) The Township of Algonquin Highlands’ website (algonquinhighlands.ca) will remain the Township’s primary and predominant internet presence for in-depth information, forms and online documents. All social media sites used will direct visitors back to the appropriate section of the website.
14.3. Members will refrain from posting the following to their personal social media pages:
a) Content which violates the Criminal Code of Canada or the Ontario Human Rights Code;
b) Proprietary and confidential municipal information;
c) Discriminatory, disrespectful, disparaging, negative statements involving or against the Township, a staff member, a member of the public, any member of Council, political parties, other levels of government, its officials or representatives within Canada;
d) Content which violates any of the Township’s policies;
e) The Township’s logo, trademark or graphics without the Township’s prior written consent (sharing Township social media or website posts are permitted);
f) Information or comments which are contrary to the decision(s) of Council and which could mislead the public as to Council’s decision
15. Election-Related Activity
15.1. Members are required to conduct themselves in accordance with the Municipal Elections Act. The use of municipal resources, both actual municipal property and staff time, for election-related activity is strictly prohibited. The prohibition applies to both the promotion and opposition to the candidacy of a person for elected office. Election-related activity applies not only to a member’s personal campaign for office, but also other campaigns for municipal, provincial and federal office.
16. Compliance with the Code of Conduct
16.1. Members are expected to adhere to the provisions of the Code of Conduct.
16.2. Where Council has received a report by its Integrity Commissioner that in their opinion there has been a violation of the Code of Conduct, the Municipal Act, 2001 provides Council with the authority to impose the following sanctions:
a) A reprimand; and/or
b) Suspension of the remuneration paid to the member in respect of his or her services as a member of Council or a local board, as the case may be, for a period of up to 90 days.
16.3 Other Actions
Council may take the following actions following a report by the Integrity Commissioner:
- Remove a member from their membership on any committee, taskforce, etc. (as applicable);
- Remove a Chair of any committee, taskforce, etc., of Council;
- Require the repayment or reimbursement of moneys improperly received by the member or received by another person at the direction of the member.
- Require the return of a gift or benefit or reimbursement of its value.
- A request for an apology to the Council, any Committee, the complainant, or to a combination of any of them.