Ombudsman aftermath: restoring public’s trust in council


Councillor Sutton to make motion at next meeting

By Joel Charron

Councilor John Sutton plans to make a motion at Jan 23 town council in hopes of regaining the public’s trust.

Sutton’s motion reads that “respecting all applicable privacy legislation, administration be directed to bring forward a public report outlining the specific nature of in-camera meetings discussed in the Ombudsman’s report ‘Behind Closed Doors.’ The report will include the nature of the discussion, the opinion of the Ombudsman and the remedy, whether current or proposed, implemented by council and administration.”

“I think it’s imperative that council demonstrates some leadership on this issue,” said Sutton. “The public has a right to know exactly what was discussed in the in-camera meeting, what the Ombudsman opinion of those opinion of those discussions was and most important what our remedy to that solution is.”


Councillor John Sutton hopes the motion he plans to make at the next council meeting is the first step in restoring the public’s trust.

The issue requires all of council’s involvement, he said, and believes his motion will serve as a “starting point” towards rectifying the damage done by the Ombudsman report, which stated that the town contravened the Municipal Act in its handling of several in-camera meetings in January 2011.

Sutton said that this is a “vital” step in regaining the public’s trust, however it’s only the first step.

“The second step would be getting the report back. The third step would be together agreeing on the recommendation and policy that would institute moving forward,” said Sutton. “The fourth and most importantly will be the ability for us, as a body for both administration and council working together to implement those resolutions to ensure that we don’t have any reoccurrences.’

Sutton also added that he was not trying to “downplay” anything, some errors the town made in handling meetings that were subsequently investigated by the Ombudsman were clerical errors and that has to be corrected.

Sutton also added that it’s time for council to bear responsibility for what was done.

“All of us as individual councilors voted to go in-camera, we participated in those discussions and now we have to bear the responsibility,” he said. “I can certainly accept that and apologize for the errors we made.”

Deputy Mayor Ron Sutherland said it’s a step in the right direction.

“It’s about time that were going to do something,” he said. “It’s the right thing to do but it’s kind of late in the day to be saying we are going to do the right thing.”

Sutherland added that they can regain the public’s trust, however it may take some time.

“There has to be heavy work done to rebuild the public’s trust,” he said. “Hopefully we can all work together for the betterment of the town.”

Although Sutherland agrees Sutton’s motion is the first step in the right direction, he feel more has to be done.

“In my opinion we should send a response to the Ombudsman stating we will certainly comply with his recommendations,” stated Sutherland.

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