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National Post - May 19, 2010 - By Megan O'Toole - firstname.lastname@example.org
Mississauga votes on new council code of conduct
After months of infighting and public spats, Mississauga councillors will be asked to vote today on a council code of conduct and the creation of an integrity commissioner to govern it.
The draft document asks members to conduct themselves "with decorum" during council meetings by using "respectful language and behaviour in relation to all of those in attendance."
In a separate section dealing with media communications, the code goes further.
"A member should refrain from making disparaging comments about other members of council or about council's processes and decisions," states the document, which was prepared by a committee including councillors Katie Mahoney, Eve Adams and George Carlson.
"When communicating with the media, a member should at all times refrain from speculating or reflecting upon the motives of other members in respect of their actions as a member of council."
Ms. Mahoney said the code was based on similar documents in Vaughan and Toronto, and not on specific tensions that have affected Mississauga council in recent months.
Councillor Carolyn Parrish has become a frequent and colourful critic of Mayor Hazel McCallion, recently accusing councillors of spending like "drunken sailors" for years under her tenure. Other councillors have speculated on Ms. Parrish's designs for the Mayor's chair, suggesting this was the driving force behind Ms. Parrish's support for a judicial inquiry that will examine city business dealings.
Ms. Mahoney noted while the code of conduct cannot stop anyone from speaking out, "if there is a concern that they're doing that inappropriately, then we now have a mechanism to deal with that."
The code of conduct, which, if approved, would come into effect immediately after the fall election, lays out a number of rules governing potential conflicts of interest, use of influence and transparency in public dealings. It also sets out protocol for use of city resources and how to handle gifts and expenses.
Complaints would be handled by an independent integrity commissioner; in the event of a violation, council could issue a reprimand or suspend a councillor's pay for up to 90 days.
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