"Cowardice asks the question...is it safe? Expediency asks the question...is it politic? Vanity asks the question...is it popular? But conscience asks the question...is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but one must take it because it is right." ~Dr. Martin Luther King

Monday 4 June 2007


So, Vaughan is going to have an Integrity Commissioner. Aurora's Mayor is giving serious consideration to the idea. Newmarket is warm to the notion. Toronto has one. Information about how it works is already available. The press has been paying attention to the matter and the story has all the elements of high drama of the farcical genre in keeping with our times.

Provincial Legislation to allow municipalities to appoint an integrity commissioner derived from the Findings and Recommendations of the Bellamy Inquiry

The reason for the inquiry was the bilking of Toronto taxpayers of millions of dollars for a computer system. A foolish female financial official was seduced by a fast-talking and apparently not very intelligent computer salesman. A city politician with a high media profile in budget control was, without a doubt, the dastardly villain of the piece. The fellow was a candidate for Mayor in the previous election. He complained about another candidate not following the rules. Lucky for Toronto, they didn't choose him.

The Bellamy Inquiry went on for months. It seems money and favours changed hands with remarkable ease and little subtlety. The entire scheme of things was laid bare. Yet, except for the recommendation of an Integrity Commissioner, nothing much came of it. The inquiry probably cost more than the funds scammed in the skullduggery.

But there were consequences. Yes indeed. Toronto appointed a Grand Poohba of Verisimilitude, a former legal beagle from Queen's University. He rode forward on his white charger to save Toronto's badly served taxpayers.

His part-time position pays $104,000. He has an Administrative Assistant. They are both accessible only by appointment.

Complaints deemed worthy of investigation have been telling. A citizen claimed to have been verbally disrespected by a politician. The Commissioner found that was simply a misunderstanding of the tone of the comment.

A candidate in the last city election left a disparaging comment about another on the answering machine of a Member of Parliament, who was supporting the candidate being disparaged. The party of the first part was found to be at fault by the Commissioner. He deemed the act to be reprehensible and worthy of an apology.

City Council did not require the apology. The Commissioner tells the press he will quit the job if they disregard his judgment a second time. Seems it has not occurred to this expert in law to ponder how an elected official can be forced to apologize if she just won't.

The latest matter to be investigated is the failure of two councillors to claim expenses. The complaint came from councillors who do claim expenses.

If they are paying any attention at all, the taxpayers of Toronto must be wondering by now; why do they always have to pay the consequences?

I will not be voting in favour of an Integrity Commissioner for Aurora, but If the majority does, I already have a list of actions to complain about where integrity has been conspicuous by its absence. I look forward to making the cases.

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