Legal Action by Council Member
Res #: 15-03A
Responses Received: No
Departments: Saskatchewan Government Relations
WHEREAS, there is no provision in current legislation to dismiss a council member from his or her duties if that member has not upheld the policies of the RM or the code of ethics or if a member takes litigation against the municipality;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that if a member of council takes legal action against the municipality, that member should have to relinquish his or her seat until the matter is resolved.
Response from the Honourable Ron Osika, Minister of Government Relations:
The resolution seeks to require a council member who had initiated a legal action against the municipality to relinquish his or her seat until the matter was resolved. Current Saskatchewan legislation for rural municipalities is consistent with the way in which this question is treated in other jurisdictions and for other categories of municipalities. The municipal legislation in Alberta, British Columbia and Manitoba all deals with this question in a manner comparable to Saskatchewan legislation. There are no provisions that would require a duly elected representative to give up his or her seat in the case of a legal action against the municipality.
Currently section 24 of The Rural Municipality Act, 1989 (RMA) sets out the circumstances under which a vacancy on council can be declared, that is when a council member can be removed from office. Undertaking a legal action against the municipality is not sufficient justification to remove a council member from office insofar as the action would not impede the councillor's ability to function effectively and represent his or her constituents. Such an action may relate to the councillor's person or property.
Section 45 of the RMA sets out the requirements for declaration of a "pecuniary interest". Essentially, when council begins to discuss a matter where a member of council has a pecuniary interest that member must declare the interest and leave the council chamber while the matter is being discussed.