Research paper looks at integrity commissioner's role after mayoral affair
London Mayor Matt Brown’s affair with Coun. Maureen Cassidy is now the basis of a case study on municipal accountability officers and integrity.
A new research paper explores the actions of London’s Integrity Commissioner, Greg Stewart, during his 2016 investigation.
Political scientist Andrew Sancton examines the challenge of municipal oversight in a new research paper presented to a think tank at the University of Toronto.
“It raises a bunch of issues that I don't think anyone had thought about. What an integrity commissioner should be doing or shouldn't be doing,” Sancton says.
In a section of his paper entitled, Investigating versus Advising, Sancton writes: " In his investigation….London's integrity commissioner got off to a difficult start."
Integrity commissioners have two primary roles - to consult with council members about the code of conduct and to investigate possible violations.
Last summer, former city councillor Cheryl Miller argued that the independence of the investigation was compromised when Stewart agreed to meet with the mayor on a consultative basis during the same week he conducted his investigation.
“What the London case showed is that integrity commissioners should keep those two roles totally separate,” Sancton says.
Stewart said last summer that the two don't contradict each other, otherwise there wouldn't be a provision in the code of conduct to be available to consult and to investigate.
Sancton's paper points to Calgary, a city that divided the roles - hiring a separate investigator and a separate council consultant.
But with limited powers to punish, Sancton concludes that an accountability officer’s most important function is to inform citizens so they can make good election choices.
He adds that hiring more integrity commissioners, ombudsmen, auditor generals and the like will never guarantee accountability.
“There's no magic bullet. It's no solution (that) we'll hire an integrity commissioner and our problems are solved.
London’s integrity commissioner did not respond to a request for an interview.