Ontario Ombudsman’s 2014 – 2015 OMLET Annual Report

Posted by on Dec 16, 2015 in Commentary, Local Politics, Politics |

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Ombudsman’s Message – A New Day for Municipal Transparency

Read the Ombudsman’s fourth annual report on the work of the Ontario Ombudsman’s Open Meeting Law Enforcement Team (OMLET), which is solely devoted to upholding Ontario’s municipal open meeting law, also known as the Sunshine Law.

Ontario Ombudsman’s 2014 – 2015 OMLET Annual Report

OMLET Annual Report 2014-2015 – Facts and highlights

 

Ontario Ombudsman OMLET_2014-2015_Report

Ontario Ombudsman’s 2014 – 2015 OMLET Annual Report


OMLET Annual Report 2014-2015 – Ombudsman’s remarks

Thank you all for being here today, in person, through teleconference and via our live webcast.

 

The report I am releasing today is our fourth Annual Report on our investigations of closed meetings in municipalities across the province. But it’s also an ideal opportunity to discuss the exciting changes that are coming just 16 days from now, when our office will be able to take complaints about all aspects of municipal government for the first time.

 

We know there is strong public demand for this new oversight. Since I arrived at the Ontario Ombudsman’s Office in 2005, we have had to turn away more than 11,000 municipal complaints – more than 2,200 of those in the year since Bill 8 was passed.

 

Today’s report illustrates how far we have come in eight years of handling complaints about closed municipal meetings. We have seen cases increase – especially in the past year. But we have also seen many municipalities improve their practices as a result of the hundreds of recommendations we have made.

 

A few familiar issues continue to crop up – like informal gatherings of council members that sometimes veer into discussing business. And a few new ones have surfaced, like exchanges of emails that become illegal “meetings” when councillors use them to make decisions away from public view.

 

In the past few months, we have issued findings on another 30 meetings on top of the 85 covered in this report. We received good co-operation and constructive feedback from municipalities about our recommendations and process. We also participated in consultations with the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing on the Ministry’s review of municipal legislation. Our
recommendations reiterated what we have said in our OMLET reports – for example, that enforcement of the open meeting rules should be consistent, with one investigator for all municipalities, and there should be consequences for violating the law.

 

After January 1, we will finally be able to help the public with their concerns about any aspect of municipal government, from garbage and snow removal, to social programs, to conduct of councillors. And we will do what we have always done with provincial government complaints: Refer people to the right place to fix the problem, cut through red tape, investigate when needed,
and recommend solutions to systemic problems.

 

We have been very busy over the past few months, reaching out to municipalities and explaining how we work. We have made it clear that our role is not to replace accountability mechanisms at the local level. In fact, I strongly encourage all municipalities to have their own. We will be there to make sure they work as they should, and to step in where they fail, or cannot go.

 

Our Office will continue to use our resources to educate government officials and the public about our work. For those who may be watching, I want to add that we invite municipal stakeholders to contact us if they have questions about what’s to come. We look forward to being able to help all citizens with their unresolved municipal issues in the future.

 

Now, I’m happy to take your questions – first here in the studio, and then we will go to the journalists joining us by phone.

 

– Acting Ombudsman Barbara Finlay

The Ombudsman is an independent officer of the Legislature who investigates complaints from the public about Ontario government services.

Learn more about the Ombudsman

 

In 2015 there were five complaints against the Municipality of Brighton and the Ontario Ombudsman conducted one investigation and filed one report that was presented Brighton Council in October 2015.

 

Do you have a complaint about an Ontario government service? Start the complaint process here.

 

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Happy Holidays 2015 from Brighton Council – [Unofficial Video]

Posted by on Dec 4, 2015 in Commentary, Local Politics, Politics |

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Some residents have expressed their concerns over whether members of Brighton Council are able to work together to ensure that the operations of the Municipality are managed professionally and transparently so as to provide the best value to our community.

The following videos clearly demonstrate that if council members put their minds to it, they are certainly capable of operating as a well choreographed team.

Let’s hope that this joyous spirit of collaboration carries over into the New Year!

 

Happy Holidays from Brighton Council 2015 – Unofficial Video

 

 Brighton Mayor Walas and Deputy Mayor Tadman – Happy Holidays 2015

 

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Ontario Ombudsman Closed Meeting Investigation Report October 2015 – Municipality of Brighton

Posted by on Nov 1, 2015 in Commentary, Local Politics, Politics |

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Full reportOntario Ombudsman Investigation into the Municipality of Brighton’s alleged violation of the Municipal Act on May 28, 2015

Ontario_Ombudsman_Closed_Meeting_Investigation_Brighton

Ontario Ombudsman Investigation into the Municipality of Brighton

 

Summary of report content quoted directly from full report

 

Complaint:

1. On June 9, 2015, my Office received a complaint about a closed meeting held by council for the Municipality of Brighton on May 28, 2015.

2. According to the complaint, council proceeded in camera to discuss and vote on the termination of a senior municipal employee. The complaint alleged that the in camera vote was taken in violation of the Municipal Act, 2001 (the Act).

Opinion:

40. Council for the Municipality of Brighton was permitted, under the exceptions contained in the Municipal Act, 2001, to meet in closed session on May 28, 2015 to discuss the performance and compensation of various municipal employees.

41. However, council technically contravened the Act and its own procedure by-law when it voted on five resolutions in camera. While the substance of these resolutions was to direct staff, the wording of the resolution did not reflect this intent.

42. My investigation also found that council for the Municipality of Brighton violated section 239(4)(a) of the Municipal Act, 2001 by failing to state by resolution the general nature of the matters to be considered in closed session.

Recommendations:

43. I am making the following recommendations to assist council for the Municipality of Brighton to improve its practices with respect to open meetings.

Recommendation 1
All members of council of the Municipality of Brighton should be vigilant in adhering to their individual and collective obligation to ensure that council complies with its responsibilities under the Municipal Act, 2001 and its own procedure by-law.

Recommendation 2
The Municipality of Brighton should refrain from voting on matters in closed session unless the vote is for a procedural matter or for giving direction to staff.

Recommendation 3
The Municipality of Brighton should ensure that closed session resolutions intended to provide direction to staff are clearly worded as such.

Recommendation 4
The Municipality of Brighton should ensure that its resolutions to proceed in camera provide a description of the issue to be discussed, as well as the exception authorizing the discussion.

Recommendation 5
The Municipality of Brighton should ensure that its audio recorder is functioning properly for each meeting of council.

 

For future meetings, I hope that Brighton Council will carefully consider if it’s even necessary to go into closed session. The open meetings provisions in the Municipal Act. are designed to ensure transparency by maximizing information disclosure to the public.

In my opinion, Council should only go into closed session if there is a clearly identifiable detriment to residents by holding the meeting in public. Individually, Council members should challenge each closed session request based on this criteria.

If Council does decide to go into closed session, Council should follow the advice of Ombudsman’s office and “provide a description of the issue to be discussed, as well as the exception authorizing the discussion” so that “the wording of the resolution…do more than simply refer to the section of the Municipal Act that permits the closed meeting exception”.

 

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Federal Election 2015 Final Results

Posted by on Oct 23, 2015 in Commentary, Local Politics, Politics |

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Federal_Election_2015_Canada_Final_Results

Federal Election 2015 Final Results – Image Credit – CBC News

“Justin Trudeau’s Liberals won a decisive majority government, capturing 184 seats. The Conservatives, who were seeking their fourth consecutive mandate, will now form the Official Opposition. Find detailed ridings results in our map, see where each party gained and lost support and view the demographic split by party and riding. A total of 88 women were sent to House, see how the vote splits by party. And, track the Liberals surge in the polls over the course of this 78-day campaign.” Source – CBC News

Federal Election 2015 Final Results – CBC News – Canada Votes
(after searching scroll down for additional info)

 

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Get Out and Vote Today – Advance Polls open all weekend

Posted by on Oct 10, 2015 in Commentary, Local Politics, Politics |

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Check your voter information card for location details.

Saturday,  Noon – 8:00 pm
Sunday,    Noon – 8:00 pm
Monday,   Noon – 8:00 pm

Don’t forget to take your approved ID.

Take your kids to the poll and show them democracy in action! Explain to them what you are doing and why you are doing it. It is never too early (or too late) to be engaged in the democratic process.

Take a friend. Ask your neighbour if they need a ride to the polling station.

 

Voter_Card1_edited

Get Out and Vote Today – Check your voter information card for location details.

 

If you didn’t receive a voter information card, visit the Elections Canada website to find out how to register.

Elections Canada toll free – 1-800-463-6868

Don’t wait until October 19, to find out that you can’t vote!

 

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Federal Political Party 2015 Election Platforms

Posted by on Oct 9, 2015 in Commentary, Local Politics, Politics |

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The four national federal parties have published their 2015 election platforms.

Liberal Party of Canada – “A New Plan for a Strong Middle Class”

Liberal_2015-Full-Platform

“A New Plan for a Strong Middle Class”

 

Conservative Party of Canada – “Our Conservative Plan to Protect the Economy”

CPC_2015-Full-Platform

“Our Conservative Plan to Protect the Economy”

 

New Democratic Party  – “Building the Country of Our Dreams”

NDP_2015-Full-Platform

“Building the Country of Our Dreams”

 

Green Party – “Building a Canada that Works. Together.”

Green_2015-Full-Platform

“Building a Canada that Works. Together.”

 

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COGECO Behind the Ballot federal candidate debate for Northumberland Peterborough South

Posted by on Oct 3, 2015 in Commentary, Local Politics, Politics |

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Behind the Ballot Host Dave Glover moderates the federal candidates debate held in the TVCOGECO studio on September 30th. Northumberland Peterborough South Liberal candidate Kim Rudd, NDP candidate Russ Christianson and Green Party candidate Patricia Sinnot debated for two hours on the issues effecting the riding.

Conservative candidate Adam Moulton declined to participate in the debate
 

 

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Port Hope Chamber Hosts Northumberland Peterborough South All Candidates Meeting

Posted by on Sep 24, 2015 in Commentary, Local Politics, Politics |

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The Port Hope and District Chamber of Commerce hosted a Northumberland Peterborough South All-Candidates Meeting at the Cameco Capitol Arts Centre in Port Hope on Wednesday, September 23, 2015.

NDP Candidate Russ Christianson, Conservative Party Candidate Adam Moulton, Liberal Party Candidate Kim Rudd, and Green Party Candidate Patricia Sinnott were all in attendance.

Video credit: Chris Pelletier – www.northumberlandview.ca

 

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Northumberland Peterborough South Candidates Meetings in Campbellford & Brighton

Posted by on Sep 19, 2015 in Commentary, Local Politics, Politics |

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I would encourage you to watch the following videos from the two candidates meetings held in Brighton and Campbellford this week. I would also encourage you to contact the candidates directly with respect to the issues that are most important to you.

We need to elect a candidate that is not only capable, but also represents our values as individuals and our values as a community. Ask yourselves two basic questions:

1. Can they “do the job”?
2. Do they represent my values?

 

Trent Hills and District Chamber of Commerce hosting a Northumberland Peterborough South All Candidates Meeting at Campbellford District High School on Thursday, September 17, 2015

 Trent Hills All Candidates Meeting Part 1


Video credit: Chris Pelletier – www.northumberlandview.ca

 

Trent Hills All Candidates Meeting Part 2


Video credit: Chris Pelletier – www.northumberlandview.ca

 

The Greater Bay of Quinte Chapter of CARP hosted a Candidates Meeting at the King Edward Park Recreation Centre in Brighton on Thursday, September 17th, 2015


Video credit: Chris Pelletier – www.northumberlandview.ca

 

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Brighton Emergency Notification System – Self Registration

Posted by on Aug 11, 2015 in Commentary, Local Politics, Politics |

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This system sends simultaneous alerts to advise our residents of emergency situations or hazards that could affect your health and safety (e.g. major fire, hazardous materials, or shelter-in-place/evacuation notice).  Self-registration allows you to ensure that you get the call, either on a landline, cell phone or by text.

Please follow the step by step instructions provided to ensure you create a User ID and PIN correctly and enter your personal information correctly.

Participation in the Emergency Notification System is not mandatory. Your information is secure and kept confidential and can be removed from the system upon request.  For more information call 613-475-1744.

Please register with us to receive important emergency alert messages. If you are already registered, please click here to update your information or to request that your verification email is resent.


Registration Links:

Rural link (for those that live in the rural area of the Municipality)

https://www.ermsadvantage.com/register/brighton/Rural

Urban link (for those that live in the urban area of the Municipality – generally the area from Huff Road in the west to Vicari Rd and Bonn Rd in the east, and from Presqu’ile Parkway in the south to Little Lake Rd and Whites Rd in the north)

https://www.ermsadvantage.com/register/brighton/Urban

Presqu’ile link (for those that live in the park past the park gates)

https://www.ermsadvantage.com/register/brighton/Presquile

 

** For Business owners in Brighton – please ensure that you register twice (you will need two ID’s and two PIN’s), once for your residence and once for your business.  This will ensure that both your residence and business will have their civic addresses registered in case of an emergency.

 

Brighton Emergency Notification System self registration instructions

Brighton Emergency Notification System

Brighton Emergency Notification System

 

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