Despite living in St. Catharines for about five years now I still consider Brampton to be home. Though I voted in St. Catharines I like to keep an ear to the ground for what’s happening in Brampton. Shortly before the election allegations that Mayor Susan Fennell has some inappropriate financial dealings surfaced.
Susan Fennell won the mayoral election for 50.7% of the vote. Her nearest competitors was 30 points behind. Pressure has been building for an integrity commissioner. Fennell has asked the City Manager to provide a report on the viability and usefulness of getting an integrity commissioner, further delaying the issue.
The city manager recommended against the commissioner post in 2007. I somehow doubt she has changed her mind in the intervening three years. According to a recent article in the Toronto Star, Mayor Fennell has been holding secret meetings with members of council – her closest allies – on the question of an integrity commissioner.
While the Mayor’s financial dealings do worry me, I do not know if an integrity commissioner is needed. It seems like an expensive and burdensome post that makes it more difficult for candidates to run for local offices. I assume that an integrity commissioner would also become responsible for overseeing aspects of candidates for election. But, I’m willing to admit that I’m wrong. Would it not be better to force politicians to publicly disclose their financial deals, pass laws to ban certain questionable or corrupt activities? I do not see why the police could not be called on to investigate allegations of corruption, instead of another city bureaucrat.
However, it is worrying that secret meetings of council members are occurring. Public disclosure is the best way to ensure that government is functioning honestly. Backdoor meetings hide the business of the city, which defeats the mission of city council meetings being open to the public. If the media and citizenry were able to scrutinize their government, than we wouldn’t need a commissioner. I hope Brampton cleans up this mess, it has been known to be a city with good government. Next it must deserve that reputation.