New Brunswick

Fredericton's council adopts code of conduct for members

Fredericton city council has established a code of conduct for members to provide them with a standard for ethical behaviour.

Committee on gender diversity had recommended code of conduct bylaw, policy

Fredericton city council adopted a bylaw Monday night to address how councillors interact with each other and the public. (Daniel McHardie/CBC)

Fredericton city council has established a code of conduct for members to provide them with a standard for ethical behaviour.

A new bylaw addresses how council members can have respectful interactions with each other, city staff and the public, how to deal with confidential information, conflicts of interest and improper use of power, among other things.

Coun. John MacDermid, who co-chaired the effort, said he doesn't think the new code will change the way council behaves or interacts, as Fredericton's councillors are already professionals "for the most part" and treat each other, city staff and residents with respect.

"I don't think the code changes that. I think it just creates more certainty for residents that there's a process in place in case someone does cross the line." 

Coun. Kate Rogers feels the city's new code of conduct for council members addresses concerns of an ad hoc committee on gender diversity. (Maria Jose Burgos/CBC file photo)

The bylaw states members must "perform their functions of office with integrity, respect, accountability, leadership, collaboration, public interest and transparency to the best of their knowledge and ability." 

A code had been recommended by the city's ad hoc committee on gender diversity, which was created last year when Coun. Kate Rogers expressed concerns about a lack of gender diversity on council.

On Monday, Rogers said some of the issues brought forward by the committee are addressed in the new code. 

"We talk city business a lot, not necessarily our own behaviour, so I think even just the process of creating this was a very good experience and exercise for council to go through," Rogers said. 

Coun. John MacDermid said the code of conduct for council members went through a 'fairly lengthy process' examining what other jurisdictions have done and how Fredericton’s code of conduct can meet the province’s standard. (CBC)

By adopting a code of conduct, the city is meeting a mandate outlined by the government of New Brunswick's Local Governance Act in 2018. The regulation forces municipal governments to adopt a code of conduct that addresses council behaviour.

Prior to the city's new code of conduct, the Local Governance Act and procedural by-law regulated councillor conduct. 

Coun. Dan Keenan said a resident reached out to him expressing concern the public wasn't consulted in the making of Fredericton's code of conduct.

MacDermid said the document went through a "fairly lengthy process" examining what other jurisdictions have done and how Fredericton's code of conduct can meet the province's standard.

"I feel pretty confident that this actually shows the residents that we take it seriously," he said, adding the code contains mechanisms for enforcement and what to do in the event of a violation.

Complaints may go to consultant

Council is in charge of determining if any complaints that come forward have merit. In the future, council may look at tasking a third-consultant to address the complaints. 

MacDermid said he's open to the idea of bringing on a third-party consultant.

"I think we can continue on having this conversation to see if there's an opportunity for the City of Fredericton to partner with other municipalities that have a similar need to find a single source of an external consultant."


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