As the Chair of the Audit Committee (through which the external and internal auditors as well as the Whistleblower Program report to City Council), it was a pleasure to serve as the Vice Chair of the Selection Committee for an Integrity Commissioner. City Council hired Calgary’s first Ethics Advisor and Integrity Commissioner who began on April 11, 2016. Many cities across Canada have an Integrity Commissioner, but after listening to expert advice, the Selection Committee decided to split the position into two separate part-time roles to avoid conflicts of interest. The Integrity Commissioner will investigate ethics matters and claims against Council members. The Ethics Adviser will be a resource and instruct Council members and City staff on how to avoid potential ethical situations or conflicts of interest, as well as educate Calgarians on the ethical expectations of elected members of Council. These positions will constitute the newly established Integrity and Ethics Office.
Following an extensive search, Professor Alice Woolley was the successful candidate for the Ethics Advisor position and Mr. Allen Sulatycky will serve as Integrity Commissioner. You can view their brief biographies on the City of Calgary news release. In June, they are expected to bring a report to Council on how these roles will fit into or change established policy and procedures, an outline of how to transition the City Auditor’s Whistleblower Program (as it pertains to reports about Council members) to the newly created Integrity and Ethics Office, and proposed amendments to bylaws, if any.
Why do we need these positions? It is an expected evolution for a city of this size, just as our provincial and federal counterparts and other cities across Canada have demonstrated, setting an example as the first major municipality in Western Canada to institute these positions. These independent positions have been established as a resource for staff and provide advice to us seeking clarification on areas not well defined. There are a growing number of issues facing elected officials. Some examples of current challenges include legislation such as the Provincial Municipal Government Act, which compels Councillors to make decisions in the best interests of the City as a whole. Council Codes of Conduct mandate that decisions should be based on the best interest of our Ward voters – these two interests are not always aligned. Social media work also raises interesting issues. As we invest significant amounts of time communicating through these channels, who ‘owns’ them? The Ethics Advisor will provide expert advice on matters such as these. We welcome and look forward to having these resources as an organization.
Professor Alice Woolley & Mr. Allen Sulatycky