City councillors agree with Sudbury's mayor that the city should look into hiring an integrity commissioner — but worry this could give the mayor's political allies some ammunition to use against city hall.
Mayor Marianne Matichuk says she believes Greater Sudbury needs an integrity commissioner to handle complaints from the public and help council through tricky situations.
But city councillor Terry Kett said the move is dangerous at a time when attacks — from a lobby group that has strong ties to the mayor — have sunk morale at city hall to new lows.
"To bring in another opportunity for the Greater Sudbury Taxpayers Association and people like that to throw more stones ... I can't handle that any more," Kett said.
'Going to be a money pit'
Matichuk assured council that kind of abuse could be controlled.
But councillor Jacques Barbeau wasn't convinced and questioned the mayor's motives.
"If this is for political gain, I really am frustrated," he said.
"If we wanna see a report? Let's see a report, but at the end of the day, this is going to be a money pit."
Councillor Joscelyne Landry-Altmann agreed.
"I will pit my integrity against any integrity commissioner — any time, any day," she said.
"So, I don't have a problem with a report. But I do want it to be very explicit."
After Tuesday's council meeting, Matichuk laughed at the suggestion she's playing politics.
"I have very thick skin," she said. "The whole reason I ran for mayor was to clean up. And this is one piece."
About two dozen Ontario cities and towns have a person who handles complaints from the public about wrongdoing at city hall.
Matichuk reiterated an integrity commissioner would restore the public's faith in local government.
A report on how an integrity commissioner might work in Greater Sudbury will be back before council this fall.