The Saskatchewan Ombudsman conducted an investigation related to legal costs, that were paid by the municipality, for legal representation of councillors during a municipal inspection/inquiry into the RM of Sherwood. The councillor was found to be in conflict of interest because he participated in the meeting process, where the agenda item was in direct relation, to the recovery of the monies paid on the councillor’s behalf.
I have read the Ombudsman’s report and suggest that reading the report will provide some much needed lucidity to the idea of conflict of interest. The provincial government in Alberta needs to take a very serious look at this report from the Saskatchewan Ombudsman. As a county councillor I was forced by threat of disqualification, to vote in favor of a resolution, to proceed with a court application for disqualification of a colleague that did not have a (pecuniary interest) conflict of interest.
In another Alberta municipality several councillors did have very serious conflicts when dealing with land sales. Municipal affairs in a ministerial directive plainly directed the councillors: Ministerial Order No. MSL:040/16, Town of Fort Macleod, Directive 5. “I direct councillors to become familiar and comply with the pecuniary interest provisions of the MGA and consult legal counsel as needed to ensure continued compliance with the MGA s. 170 and when a councillor has a pecuniary interest, to comply with Section 172 of the MGA.” The minister obviously has 2 sets of rule books when several councillors are directed to aquire legal advice and comply with the statute, then in another municipality the minister directs the councillor to voluntarily resign.
On December 8, 2015 ADM Gary Sandberg forced council to take action against Councillor Sisson and as I write this blog post, the matter has not been dealt with in the courts. Alberta is very silent on this matter for some reason.
The Regina Leader-Post, in the second part of their article they cover the disciplining of a lawyer, by the Law Society of Saskatchewan. Their article closes very nicely with a quote that mentions the Barclay Report.