The following letter is not intended to add fuel to an ever growing fire, but instead to propose a possible pragmatic solution. There is a growing perception that there is something wrong at City Hall, from closed door meetings to human resources fiasco’s, this Municipal Council has faced many challenges and difficulties. Bits of information are coming out, however we are only getting pieces of the proverbial puzzle and not seeing the whole picture.
An open letter by a lawyer a few weeks ago and now the open letter of a former City Councillor earlier this week have created new questions in the public discourse: Is there a conflict of interest? Is proper process and procedure not being correctly followed in Council Chambers? The perception of corruption and/or a lack of transparency is a detrimental one that can create mistrust of our public institutions.
The public does not know all the facts, and information in closed door meetings may have to remain confidential, however the citizens of our community deserve to know if our City Council is conducting business in a lawfully and honest manner. We can’t simply take City Council at their word because trust has been compromised, and due to the confidential nature of in-camera meetings it is difficult to uncover the whole truth.
A storm has been brewing along the Seaway. Some journalist have become protesters, while other journalists criticize and scrutinize protesters more than they do our elected officials. In a sea of rumours, opinions, spin, innuendo, and sometimes even apathy, swims a shiny beacon called the truth! But how can the public find the truth in the depths of such murky waters? The trust of the people in it’s municipal government has been like a rocky boat on a stormy sea. So what is the best course of action needed to move forward and to sail to calmer waters?
The citizens of this community deserve to know the truth, and I think there is only one fair way to get to the bottom of all this – an inquiry. The creation of an independent body such as a commission could successfully inquire into the allegations of a conflict of interest and other issues of concern at City Hall. The commission which would be impartial would need to investigate the allegations, and if the allegations are true, that body would then make recommendations to prevent such an occurrence from happening again in the future.
An inquiry would be in the public interest, however there are disadvantages and limitations to what an inquiry can actually do. They are generally very expensive to run and although they can identify problems and uncover facts they are not a court of law. Perhaps it is premature to recommend an inquiry, but if there is no resolution soon, an inquiry might be the best way to uncover the truth. The citizens of this community deserve clear and honest answers about what is actually happening at City Hall and an inquiry would serve to create some much needed accountability.
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