Upcoming election not expected to affect whether code of conduct complaint against veteran adviser will be investigated: Clerk

A code of conduct complaint against Niagara Falls City Council. Wayne Thomson, if deposed in the coming weeks, will ‘likely’ be investigated by an Integrity Commissioner, although the municipality has a policy surrounding such investigations around an election period. , City Clerk Bill Matson said.

“I think it will be something you find in any municipality’s code of conduct,” he said.

“In ours it’s section 17.12, and it says no investigation shall be opened or continued, nor shall the Integrity Commissioner report to council regarding an investigation during an election period, and on or after an urban municipal election nomination day. ”

The electoral period for municipal elections this fall would begin on August 19, which is nomination day, and the last day that candidates can stand for local elections, until October 25 inclusive, which is the next day. of the election and the day’s election results are certified, Matson said.

St. Catharines resident Sabrina Hill said she will be filing a code of conduct complaint against Thomson for comments the veteran politician made during a Monday phone conversation between the two. Hill recorded the conversation and posted a video about it on YouTube and Facebook on Tuesday.

Hill said she called Thomson as part of an investigation she was conducting to see who might and might not support her request that the city rename Marineland Parkway to Kiska Boulevard. Hill, who is running to become regional councilor for St. Catharines this fall, said she tried to remain calm and respectful throughout the conversation until Thomson called her a “sick dog.”

Thomson said Hill “called me very aggressively” and tried to “change his mind” regarding his longtime support of Marineland. He said he also felt like Hill was pushing him, adding “it was a setup.”

Hill said she spoke with Matson on Wednesday and it’s possible the Integrity Commissioner won’t investigate her complaint if it’s filed now because the nomination process for the municipal elections has opened. May 2nd.

Thomson ran for re-election on the first day the nominations opened.

“I’m going to file now,” Hill said in an interview Wednesday.

“If they say no because the code of conduct complaints are closed due to the upcoming election, then I will file again after the election. If they then say, well, now you’ve exceeded the statute of limitations (the alleged violations must have occurred within six weeks of the complaints being filed, according to city policy), I would argue that according to the Limitations Act In Ontario, there are two different limitation periods which replace the Municipalities Act, which is a basic limitation period of two years and an ultimate limitation period of 15 years. I will argue that at a minimum, I should have two years to file a complaint.

In an interview Thursday, Matson said Hill’s investigation raises a “big question, because how do you define an election period?”

“If it was for campaign purposes, this election period is the day the person files their candidacy and Wayne files his candidacy (in May). But I think for the purposes of the code of conduct investigation, I interpret that as appointment day, August 19, and I think our Integrity Commissioner will probably interpret that the same way , so I have a feeling that Ms. Hill might actually press charges. »

He said the reason there is a section in the code dealing with a dark time for complaints is to prevent the process from being used as a political balloon during an election period.

Asked if dark times leaves the door open for councilors not to be held accountable if they broke the code during an election period, Matson said: “We have never encountered this example , so I can’t really comment on how this has been handled in the past because we haven’t had this example.

“I guess I would probably seek legal advice if that happened in the future.”

The council established an administrative fee of $500 to file a complaint. The complainant receives half of this money if the complaint is found to be justified.

“I think if (the Integrity Commissioner) conducts an investigation, that means to me that the complaint was valid. It does not take into account whether or not the counselor violated the code,” he said.

“The flip side is that if the Integrity Commissioner finds it to be frivolous or vexatious, or contains insufficient grounds to support an investigation, then the complainant will forfeit all costs.”

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