As of March 1, 2019, the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act and the Municipal Act, 2001 together establish a new, integrated framework for municipal conflict of interest rules.
Under this new framework, the Integrity Commissioner’s responsibilities have expanded. Specifically, the Integrity Commissioner is now responsible for providing Members of Council and members of the City’s local boards with conflict of interest advice.
In addition, a new complaint and enforcement process is now in place. Anyone who believes a Member of Council or a member of a local board has contravened the conflict of interest rules in the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act may apply to the Integrity Commissioner to request an investigation.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the purpose of the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act?
The purpose of the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act is to prevent members from influencing the consideration of a matter in which they have a direct or indirect pecuniary (financial) interest.
What happens when a member has a conflict of interest?
When a member has a conflict of interest, they are expected to:
- Disclose the interest and the general nature of the interest before the matter is considered at a meeting;
- Not participate in the discussion or vote on the matter;
- Not attempt to influence the voting on the matter before, during or after the meeting.
Who can file a complaint?
An eligible elector or a person demonstrably acting in the public interest who believes a member has contravened the conflict of interest rules in the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act, may apply to the Integrity Commissioner to request an investigation within six weeks of becoming aware of a conflict of interest.
Can an anonymous complaint be filed?
No. Anonymous complaints will not be accepted.
How do I make a complaint?
Complaints may be submitted using the Request for Investigation form. Complaints will require a signed affidavit setting out the information in support of the allegations. More information on how to apply for an inquiry can be found here.
Is there a fee to file a complaint?
No, there is no cost to submitting a complaint.
Are there any restrictions on when complaints can be submitted?
An applicant must submit their complaint within six weeks of becoming aware of the conflict of interest.
During a municipal election year, the Integrity Commissioner cannot accept applications between Nomination Day (the fourth Friday in July in a municipal election year) and Voting Day (the fourth Monday in October in a municipal election year).
If an individual becomes aware of a conflict of interest between Nomination Day and Voting Day in a municipal election year, the applicant must apply to the Integrity Commissioner within six weeks after Voting Day.
Will the Integrity Commissioner launch a full investigation for every complaint received?
Not necessarily. The Integrity Commissioner will review all applications and conduct investigations as he or she deems necessary.
How long will it take for the Integrity Commissioner to complete an investigation?
The Integrity Commissioner must complete an investigation within 180 days after receiving the completed application.
Is there any reason the Integrity Commissioner would not be able to complete an investigation?
If the Integrity Commissioner has not completed an investigation before Nomination Day in a municipal election year, the investigation must be terminated on Nomination Day.
What happens if an investigation is terminated because of a municipal election?
If the Integrity Commissioner has terminated an investigation because of a municipal election, the Integrity Commissioner may not cause another investigation unless, within six weeks following Voting Day, either the applicant or the former member requests, in writing, that the Integrity Commissioner start a new investigation.
What happens if the Integrity Commissioner believes a Member has contravened the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act?
If, after completing an investigation, the Integrity Commissioner believes it is appropriate, he or she may apply to a judge for a determination as to whether the member has a conflict of interest.
What penalties or disciplinary actions might be imposed if a judge determines that a member has contravened the conflict of interest rules in the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act?
There are now a few different sanctions a judge can apply if a contravention of the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act is found. A judge could decide to apply any or all of the following:
- Suspension of remuneration for a period of up to 90 days;
- Member’s seat declared vacant;
- Disqualification from being a Member for a period of time not exceeding seven years; and
- Where applicable, restitution of financial gain.
How is the public informed of the Integrity Commissioner’s decision?
After deciding whether or not to apply to a judge, the Integrity Commissioner must publish reasons for the decision. The Integrity Commissioner will post these decisions on ottawa.ca.
If I have a question about the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act, how do I get in touch with the Integrity Commissioner?
The Integrity Commissioner can be reached at email@example.com.