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M.D. council reviews Code of Conduct bylaw for final time

Posted on February 1, 2023 by Taber Times

By Cole Parkinson
Taber Times

It’s been a long time up to this point, but with all amendments in place, the Municipal District of Taber councillors were able to get one final look at their Code of Conduct Bylaw before third reading. During council’s regular meeting on Jan. 24, councillors reviewed the bylaw along with a redacted letter from Marianne Ryan from the Alberta Ombudsman. Coun. Chantal Claassen was absent for this portion of the meeting.

“The way I look at it is, we had some thoughts and opinions that we wrote down that maybe were a little hard to navigate through. So, Jennifer (Sykes from Caron and Partners) cleaned it up and when I read the clean copy, it was a very flowable document with easy steps to follow. We didn’t ever touch the Code of Conduct Bylaw itself, it’s just the process,” stated Coun. John DeGroot.

“There are lots of wording changes, but the content that the committee came up with and the amendments that council has done, what she did was go through and ensure that if it was challenged in a court of law, the flow and the legal aspects were worded correctly. We missed a couple of spots for timelines and she made sure they were outlined,” added Deputy Reeve Tamara Miyanaga.

DeGroot, Miyanaga, and Coun. Chantal Claassen were the three members of the Council Code of Conduct Review Committee.

“At the end, we made sure it was compliant with the MGA, that it made sense to the committee, and met the ombudsman’s recommendations that complied with the MGA because there is one that doesn’t align right now with the MGA. We spent another hour and a half with her going through line by line,” added Miyanaga.

With complaints coming into a CAO-monitored email, it was asked what the process would be if the complaint involved the CAO.

“What happens in the eventuality that one of the involved parties is the CAO? Is that problematic or is that easily solved?” asked Coun. Brian Hildebrand.

“I think it’s easily solved. I can’t quite remember offhand, but a professional will be able to give it to the second or third in command and go down the chart,” replied DeGroot.

Council was also able to review the letter from the Alberta Ombudsman which was attached to the agenda.

“The role of my office is to investigate matters of administration with the goal of determining if the processes and decisions were administratively fair. This investigation focused on the process the M.D. used in rendering its decisions and my recommendations are aimed at improving that process. My investigation did not include, nor will I be commenting on the merits of the Code of Conduct complaints or the decided outcome,” reads the letter from Ryan. “I understand the Code of Conduct for Elected Officials Regulation (the Regulation) is relatively new and the three investigations that took place were a first for the M.D. I recognize this was a substantial undertaking for the M.D. and finding comparisons or examples were hard to come by.”

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