At least one Halifax city councillor is looking to tighten the rules around how the municipality handles code-of-conduct complaints against elected officials.

Coun. Tony Mancini joined his colleagues Tuesday for an in-camera discussion about complaints against councillors. The nature of the complaints and the councillors in question have not been made public. Nick Ritcey, speaking for the municipality, said there are currently 13 complaints outstanding against councillors, the most recent of which was made within the last week. 

"The only steps we can take is to have the conversation and leave it as is, or have the person the complaint is against be removed from any committees she or he might sit on," he told CBC News in a phone interview on Monday.

Council can also recommend training or coaching.

"That's all that we're allowed to do based on the charter," Mancini said.

Currently, councillors read and sign the code of conduct upon election, but don't need to look at it again. He thinks it needs sharper teeth.

"The latest things that have been happening that you've been hearing about in the media about some of our councillors really brought it to the surface."

Six ideas for improvement

Mancini's motion makes several suggestions, including that council:

  • Review the code every year.
  • Discuss and sign the code every year.
  • Review guidelines on interpersonal behaviour and community representation.
  • Update the code before each election.
  • Ask the province to change the charter so that council members could be financially sanctioned for violating the code.

"The final item is considering an integrity commissioner," Mancini said. "A lot of other municipalities have one who sits independently of council and looks at investigating in cases of complaints."

An integrity commissioner could take that power out of council's hands and rule independently on complaints.

If council votes for Mancini's motion, he said they'll ask staff to investigate and write a report.