Manitoba

Motion to force councillors charged with assault to take leave won't go ahead, Gilroy says

The city councillor who first introduced a motion to put councillors on paid leave when facing charges of assault and sexual assault says it appears to be impossible to put it into law.

Coun. Cindy Gilroy says forcing elected officials to take leave because of allegations violates human rights

Coun. Cindy Gilroy introduced a motion July 19, 2018, to ask the province to amend Winnipeg's charter to force elected members of council to take a paid leave if they are charged with a criminal offence, including assault and sexual assault. (Travis Golby/CBC)

The city councillor who first introduced a motion to put councillors on paid leave when facing charges of assault and sexual assault says it appears to be impossible to put it into law.

A cross-jurisdictional analysis by the city's public service found no municipality requires elected officials to vacate their seats when facing criminal charges.

"I think the concern is we might be violating human rights codes," Coun. Cindy Gilroy said Wednesday. "I don't know where to go from here."

Gilroy, who represents Daniel McIntyre, presented a motion in July 2018 asking city council to request the province amend Winnipeg's charter to force elected officials to take paid leave when faced with serious, violent charges.

The motion came on the heels of former Transcona councillor Russ Wyatt's arrest. Wyatt was charged with sexual assault in July. His next court appearance is Friday.

The public service's cross-jurisdictional analysis found that while cities do not force sitting politicians to take paid leave when faced with charges, most cities do have rules, similar to Winnipeg's, that compel members of council to forfeit their seats if they are convicted of criminal offences such as municipal corruption or charges that lead to a lengthy prison term.

Gilroy said she might explore whether city council can address concerns about creating a safe work environment through governance rule changes, but it's too early to speculate on details. 

The mayor's executive policy committee will hear more from city administration Tuesday about the cross-jurisdictional analysis.

About the Author

Laura Glowacki is a reporter based in Winnipeg. Before moving to Manitoba in 2015, she worked as an associate producer for CBC's Metro Morning in Toronto. Find her on Twitter @glowackiCBC and reach her by email at laura.glowacki@cbc.ca.

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