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Integrity Commissioner

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Messages from the Integrity Commissioner

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December 2017

I have been working steadily to prepare a new Code of Conduct for Members of Council; a protocol for accepting, investigating and reporting on complaints about members' conduct; and related policies.

In carrying out this work I have been spending a significant amount of time with the members of council, to discuss their ethical obligations as elected public officials.

I am very pleased with the level of engagement I have received from all the members, in this work. I am also pleased to see that the members are now frequently seeking my advice and guidance regarding their ethical obligations, relating to a variety of subjects and activities.

I have sent my report recommending the new Code of Conduct to the Clerk's office to bring forward to Council. Accordingly, the report has been placed on the agenda for the Governance Committee meeting of January 23, 2018. The Governance Committee will forward the report to the Executive Policy Committee which will ultimately forward the report to Council, for discussion and approval.

July 2017

My official duties as Integrity Commissioner commenced on April 1, 2017.

In the six weeks leading up to that date I spent many hours studying the ethics regimes of various levels of government in other jurisdictions in Canada and the United States and made contact with experts in the field of government ethics.

I also spoke with a number of municipal Integrity Commissioners, both past and present, across Canada, all of whom were generous with their time and sharing of expertise and experience.

As a result, I have made valuable connections within the Canadian municipal ethics community and was invited to speak at the Municipal Integrity Commissioners of Ontario annual conference in May of this year.  A copy of the power point presentation I gave to that conference, describing Winnipeg’s new ethics regime, can be found on this website.

In addition to attending the Municipal Integrity Commissioners of Ontario conference in May, I attended the annual conference of the Canadian Association of Programs in Public Administration which was held in Winnipeg this year and I joined a number of organizations whose focus is government ethics and public administration.

Establishing Professional Relationships with City Council

Once my official duties began, I spent a good part of the months of April and May meeting on an individual basis with each Member of City Council including the Mayor and 15 Councillors.  This allowed me to establish relationships with Council Members, to share my views about how I intend to perform the mandate Council has given me, and to hear from Council Members as to their needs and concerns regarding the ethical framework in which they perform their duties.

These meetings were a crucial step in establishing the necessary understanding with Council Members about our respective roles, keeping in mind that one of the most important aspects of the work performed by an Integrity Commissioner is the ability to provide advice on a pro-active basis so as to prevent breaches of ethical conduct.

In order to become knowledgeable about the work of City Council and the accountability framework which currently applies to Members of Council, I met with the Provincial Ombudsman, the City Auditor, executive assistants for Members of City Council, the City Solicitor and the City Clerk.

I also met with the Province’s Minister of Indigenous and Municipal Relations in order to discuss proposed amendments to The City of Winnipeg Charter and The Municipal Act which would give the role of the Integrity Commissioner more authority, create sanctions for breaches of ethical conduct on the part of Members of Council and enhance the ethics regime for municipalities in the Province, generally.

Lobbyist Registry

Since assuming the role of Integrity Commissioner, I have been formally appointed by Council to be the Lobbyist Registrar, overseeing the City’s Voluntary Lobbyist Registry.  Accordingly, I have met with the Provincial Lobbyist Registrar to compare processes.  I am available to answer questions from individuals or organizations with respect to whether they fall within the definition of “lobbyist” under the new regime now in place for the City.

Communication with the Public and Complaints

Since starting in this position, I have communicated with a number of members of the public to answer specific questions and provide information about my role and the ethics framework for City Council, generally.  With respect to individuals who indicated they wish to file complaints, I have confirmed that once Council has approved my recommendations for a Complaint Protocol I will be able to accept complaints that will then be addressed in accordance with the process set out in that document.

New Code of Conduct and Complaints Process

Consistent with the mandate I received from Council, I have conducted an extensive cross-jurisdictional analysis of the codes of conduct and the complaint investigation processes in other jurisdictions in order to draft a new Code of Conduct and a process for receiving, investigating and reporting on complaints.

I am currently working with Members of Council to finalize that Code and Complaints Process.  I hope to provide Council with a report containing my final recommendations for the approval of the new Code of Conduct and Complaints Process in October of this year.

Independent Opinion Regarding Conflicts of Interest

When Council voted on whether to appoint me as Integrity Commissioner, four Members of Council declared that they had a conflict such that they recused themselves from voting.

For the sake of clarity I retained the services of Greg Levine, who is a recognized authority on municipal ethics regimes in Canada to provide me with his independent opinion as to whether there were, in fact, conflicts of interest regarding my relationship with those Members of Council and which would prevent me from performing my mandate with respect to those Members.

A link to Mr Levine's opinion is included in the right hand column of this page, under the heading 'Reports'.

Mr Levine concluded that no such conflicts exist.

In his view, while everyone involved acted out of an abundance of caution, the matters disclosed do not constitute conflicts of interest.

He concludes his report by saying: "The City and the Commissioner are entering an exciting new phase of the development of Winnipeg's ethics system. They should do so unburdened by the disclosures of "potential" conflicts which this report has discussed."

April 2017

The new position of Integrity Commissioner is a tremendous opportunity for the City. Establishing an ethics regime which includes an Integrity Commissioner enhances accountability, transparency and fairness – all necessary features for the functioning of good, effective government. Although many municipalities in Ontario have benefited from the guidance and oversight of an Integrity Commissioner, the City of Winnipeg is only the third municipality in western Canada to create such a position.

The Integrity Commissioner reports to Council in Annual Reports which will summarize the Commissioner’s activities. Reports will also be made on a periodic basis as necessary. Ultimately reports will be issued on the investigations of complaints once a Complaints Process has been established and approved by Council.

Advice and Education

The most important role of the Integrity Commissioner, which will have the most impact, is to ensure that Members of Council understand the ethical responsibilities they take on when they assume office. Those responsibilities require each Member of Council to perform his or her duties of office and arrange his or her private affairs in such a manner as to maintain public confidence and trust in the integrity, objectivity and impartiality of the Member.


The ability to complain about unethical conduct is an essential mechanism for enforcing accountability in government and ensuring that ethical rules are followed.

Council has shown it understands the importance of this by giving the Integrity Commissioner the mandate to accept complaints about Members of Council not only from other Members but also and most importantly from the public at large.

A complaint investigation and reporting process which gives due consideration to issues of fairness and privacy is in the process of being created.

Proposed Legislative Changes

In Ontario, Municipal Integrity Commissioners receive their powers pursuant to provincial legislation. Manitoba does not yet have similar legislative provisions. Accordingly, part of the Integrity Commissioner's work will involve working with the Public Service and Legal Services to make recommendations to Council for amendments to be sought to The City of Winnipeg Charter. These amendments will relate to the Integrity Commissioner's mandate and role, including granting investigative powers to the Integrity Commissioner and identifying appropriate sanctions should a Member of Council be found to have breached the Code of Conduct.

First Year's Priorities

During the first months of this term the Integrity Commissioner will be focused on activities which will include:

  • establishing how the Commissioner’s operations will be carried out;
  • becoming fully conversant and expert with relevant policies, procedures and by-laws applicable to Members of Council including the existing Code of Conduct and with relevant legislation including The Municipal Council Conflict of Interest Act;
  • examining the nature and extent of the Integrity Commissioner's jurisdiction in the context of the laws of Manitoba generally;
  • making recommendations to Council regarding the establishment of a new Code of Conduct including conducting a cross jurisdictional analysis of best practices in other jurisdictions;
  • establishing a Complaints Process; and
  • making recommendations to Council regarding changes to be sought to The City of Winnipeg Charter to enhance the authority of the Integrity Commissioner.

Your patience will be required while standards and processes are established which will allow the mandate of the Integrity Commissioner to be fulfilled in the most appropriate and effective way.

Last update: December 8, 2023

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