Enforcement of Code of Ethics Provisions
Res #: 12-19A
Responses Received: Yes
Departments: Saskatchewan Ministry of Government Relations
WHEREAS municipal councils must adopt a code of ethics, as required by section 93.1(1) of The Municipalities Act;
WHEREAS section 93.1(6)(b) limits the ability of municipalities to respond to contraventions of the code of ethics to censuring or suspending an offending council member;
WHEREAS the Royal Canadian Mounted Police are unable to assist municipalities in enforcing code of ethics penalties, such as enforcing suspensions, that are not also criminal matters;
WHEREAS municipalities may only remove a council member from council as a result of conflict of interest and then only after a court process;
BE IT RESOLVED that SARM advocate to the provincial government to develop regulations for The Municipalities Act that allow municipalities to present the Minister of Government Relations with sufficient evidence of repeated code of ethics violations and have the Minister order the offending council member removed from office.
Responses From: The Ministry of Government Relations
April 18, 2019
The ministry believes fellow council members are in the best position to determine the seriousness of a member's breach of the code of ethics and act on it. This is why councils have authority to deal with breaches through censure, suspension, training or other consequences to address bad behaviour and make it known to residents of the municipality.
No legislative or regulation amendments are needed for councils to act and respond to improper conduct. These actions cannot include removal from office – council members are elected by the voters and residents of the community who ultimately decide if the member should be re-elected if he or she runs again for office.
The minister also has the ability to inquire into the conduct of a council member and order his or her removal. This authority is rarely used, however, no legislative or regulation amendments are needed if the minister considers such an inquiry and removal necessary.
Conflict of interest, violating legal rules and breaking the law are less value-based and subjective than code of ethics violations. Therefore, there are more serious consequences for elected officials beyond disciplinary actions, including removal and disqualification from office, and legal action.
Warren Kaeding – Minister of Government Relations