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Integrity and ethics complaint process

There are four steps in the Integrity and Ethics Office complaint process: submit complaint, complaint assessment, formal investigation, and final decision.

Step One – Submit complaint

A complaint must be submitted within 90 days of the alleged incident and must include the following information or it will be dismissed in most cases, without further notice to you:

  • your name;
  • your residential address; and
  • your email address.

A complaint should include the following information, or it may be dismissed:

  • the name of the Council Member;
  • date(s) of the incident;
  • details of the allegation(s) / the conduct you are complaining about;
  • why you believe the conduct breached the Code of Conduct for Elected Officials; and
  • any supporting recordings, documents, photos or witness contact information.

Step Two - Complaint assessment

  • The Integrity Commissioner acknowledges receipt of your complaint.
  • The Integrity Commissioner may ask you or the Council Member for more information.
  • The initial assessment is performed. You will be notified either: 1) that the complaint is dismissed, with a written decision explaining the reasons for the outcome; or 2) that the complaint will be formally investigated. The Council Member is served with a notice of investigation, your complaint, and any supporting material.
  • The decision to dismiss or investigate is final.

Step Three – Formal investigation

If the complaint is not dismissed at the assessment stage:

  • A formal investigation is started.
  • Within 10 days of receiving the notice of a formal investigation, the Council Member must reply to the complaint.
  • You will receive a copy of the Council Member’s reply.
  • Once you receive the reply, you must provide any further information or evidence to the Integrity Commissioner within 10 business days.
  • The Integrity Commissioner may ask you, the Council Member, The City of Calgary, or others for additional information at any time during the investigation.
  • At any time, the Integrity Commissioner may refer the complaint to the Ethics Advisor to resolve the issue informally. The complainant or Council Member can refuse to engage in informal resolution.

Step Four – Final decision

  • Timeline - If possible, the Integrity Commissioner makes a decision within 90 days of receiving a complaint. Some investigations are more complex and require more time.
  • Decision of no violation - If it’s determined that the Council Member did not violate the Code of Conduct, the investigation is dismissed. The decision is made in writing to you and the Council Member, with the reasons for the outcome.
  • Decision of violation - If it’s determined that the Council Member violated the Code of Conduct, a report is submitted to Council with a recommendation for sanctions if any.
  • Report to Council - The report is verbally presented to Council in a closed meeting portion of a Council meeting.
  • Sanctions - Council decides to adopt the sanction recommendations or impose a different sanction.
  • Report to complainant - After the sanction decision is made, the report is provided to you.
  • Publication – The report is published on the Integrity and Ethics Office website and in the minutes of Council meetings.
  • Decisions are final - All decisions by the Integrity Commissioner are final under the Code of Conduct. No appeals or reconsiderations are allowed.
  • Retaliation - Retaliation, or a threat of retaliation, by Council members is prohibited under the Code of Conduct.

FAQ - Frequently asked questions

Can I make a complaint anonymously?

Yes, but anonymity cannot be guaranteed. Every reasonable effort will be made to maintain your confidentiality, but your identity may be disclosed as required by law. If disclosing your identity is necessary to continue the investigation, you will be given the option to withdraw the complaint.

If your identity is anonymous to the Integrity Commissioner, the Integrity Commissioner has discretion to investigate or dismiss the complaint, and you may not receive any communication from the Integrity Commissioner.

Can I withdraw a complaint?

Yes, you may withdraw a complaint at any time by notice in writing to the Integrity Commissioner. However, the Integrity Commissioner has discretion to continue the investigation without your participation.

Can I make a complaint on behalf of someone else?

Only a witness to the conduct by a Council Member can make a complaint.

Can I make a complaint about a Council Member’s staff?

Yes, but the Integrity Commissioner has limited authority to investigate these complaints. The Integrity Commissioner only has authority to investigate allegations that a Council Member violated the Code of Conduct. If the conduct of the staff was undertaken on behalf of the Council Member, then the Integrity Commissioner can investigate the Council Member. However, the Integrity Commissioner does not have authority to investigate their staff.

Can the Integrity Commissioner or Ethics Advisor mandate that the complainant and Council member engage in informal resolution of the matter?

No, the complainant or Council Member can refuse to engage in informal resolution.

Is there protection from retaliation by a Council Member?

Retaliation, or a threat of retaliation, by Council Members is prohibited under the Code of Conduct.

How quickly will the Integrity Commissioner make a decision on a complaint?

If practically possible, the Integrity Commissioner will make a decision within 90 days of receiving a complaint. Some investigations are more complex and require more time.

Can I appeal a decision by the Integrity Commissioner?

All decisions by the Integrity Commissioner are final under the Code of Conduct.

Does the Integrity Commissioner have the power to impose sanctions on Council Members?

The Integrity Commissioner makes recommendations to Council as to the appropriate sanction for a violation of the Code of Conduct. Council must decide whether to adopt the Integrity Commissioner’s recommended sanctions or whether to substitute with a different sanction.