Calgary hires integrity commissioner, ethics adviser in a first for cities in Western Canada

Calgary has hired an independent ethics commissioner, in addition to an ethics adviser, to help guide and investigate city councillors' actions and decision making.

Former justice and MP Allen Sulatycky, law expert Alice Woolley appointed to act as watchdog and mentor

City councillors gathered in council chambers for a regular meeting. (Evelyne Asselin/CBC)

In a first for a city in Western Canada, Calgary has hired an independent ethics commissioner, in addition to an ethics adviser, to help​ guide and investigate city councillors' actions and decision making.

Allen Sulatycky, a former MP and Court of Queen's Bench justice in Alberta, was named as the integrity commissioner.

Alice Woolley was appointed as ethics adviser. She currently serves as associate dean (academic) with the Faculty of Law at the University of Calgary.

"This is an important step forward to improve openness, transparency, and accountability at city hall," Mayor Naheed Nenshi said in a release announcing the hires.

Both the integrity commissioner and ethics adviser are part-time positions. They are to provide their first report council by June 2016.

The commissioner — a first for any city or town in Alberta — will have the power to investigate conflict of interest allegations by city council members as well as any complaints of misconduct.

The ethics adviser, meanwhile, will advise council members on questions about city council policies or ethical situations they may find themselves in.

"Right now, if a councillor faced an ethical or legal question, they'd have to retain outside counsel. Now I'll be able to give them that advice," said Woolley.

"My job is hopefully to stop problems happening before they happen."

Mayor Naheed Nenshi said the new integrity commissioner and ethics adviser will help increase transparency and accountability at city hall. (CBC)

Sulatycky was elected as the MP for Rocky Mountain in 1968 and served as parliamentary secretary to several ministers. He was appointed to the Court of Queen's Bench in 1982.

He became associate chief justice of the Court of Queen's Bench in 2000, a position he retired from in 2004.

Woolley previously served as a law clerk to Chief Justice Antonio Lamer of the Supreme Court of Canada and has practised at several large Calgary law firms. She has also written numerous books, articles and commentaries, and has been a frequent presenter on ethics and other topics.

She serves as president of the Canadian Association of Legal Ethics and, in 2015, was named one of Canada's top 25 most influential lawyers by by Canadian Lawyer magazine.

"Professor Woolley and Mr. Sulatycky will provide excellent oversight and support for city council, and I know they will serve Calgarians well in their roles," Nenshi said.

With files from The Homestretch


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversationCreate account

Already have an account?