Brampton Welcomes New Integrity Commissioner
It looks like some changes are coming, at least as to an appointment for who oversees transparency and accountability in Brampton city hall. The city recently announced that they have hired Guy Giorno of Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP for the joint post of integrity commissioner and lobbyist registrar. Giorno will assume his post effective April 1, 2017.
Giorno replaces Robert Swayze, who along with serving as Brampton's integrity commissioner, was also serving as lobbyist registrar on an interim basis. Swayze has in the past/currently serves as integrity commissioner for a number of municipalities across Ontario, such as Sarnia, Oakville, Guelph, Port Hope, and Carleton Place. Swayze was the integrity commissioner for Mississauga from 2012 to 2015.
The role of integrity commissioner was a relatively new position for municipalities in light of the issue of municipal government transparency and accountability only recently coming into prominence. One of the foremost experts in the field, Swayze's services were in high demand but people in his position were a rare breed. By hiring Giorno, Brampton at least found a more permanent replacement who can focus on dealing with their municipality.
If you were wondering what Giorno's dual roles as integrity commissioner and lobbyist registrar actually entails, the following is a brief summation of his duties:
He will oversee the application of the Council Code of Conduct, along with any City by-laws, procedures, rules and policies governing the ethical behaviour of the Mayor and Councillors. He will investigate allegations that a council member has violated the code of conduct governing councillors' behaviour at council meetings and in dealing with staff, accepting gifts or benefits, use of influence, political campaigning, and the release of confidential information.
As the Lobbyist Registrar, Giorno will enforce Brampton's Lobbyist and Gift Registries, as well as the Lobbyist Code of Conduct. The Lobbyist Registrar has the power to investigate complaints and to impose sanctions if lobbying activity has not been disclosed or if an individual has contravened the Lobbyist Code of Conduct.
For both his roles, Giorno will produce reports summarizing complaints, investigations and advice and will make recommendations for any improvements to the City's accountability process.
As Mayor Linda Jeffrey stated, "I believe Mr. Giorno's strong track record in municipal law and ethics will assist in maintaining accountability and transparency at the city. Brampton is one of few municipalities in Canada to have implemented a lobbyist registry. As we continue to build a stronger and future-ready city, Brampton will not only focus on industry best practices, but also our goal to be a leader in municipal governance."
Besides being a partner at Faskin Martineau, Giorno had been a longtime Conservative party insider, working his way up through the ranks all the way to being the chief of staff to former Ontario premier Mike Harris and former prime minister Stephen Harper. For that reason, it's interesting to see well-known Liberal politician Jeffrey welcome Giorno so warmly.
That said, perhaps it's a refreshing welcome.
Just as former US President Franklin D. Roosevelt picked Joe Kennedy (father of JFK) to clean up Wall Street during the Depression years, what Brampton might need in terms of improving transparency in city hall is someone who knows how transparency gets clouded in the first place.
It'll be interesting to see what happens.
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