Manitoba Law Reform Commission recommends modernization of law on municipal conflicts of interest
January 13, 2016
BY Kevin Zakreski
In its just-published final report Modernizing The Municipal Council Conflict of Interest Act: Accountability, Enforcement & Oversight (PDF), the Manitoba Law Reform Commission is recommending reforms to how Manitoba deals with conflicts of interest at the level of municipal councils. The summary of the report gives this description of its scope and primary recommendations:
This report will provide an overview of the municipal conflict of interest legislative regime in Manitoba and other jurisdictions and will canvass case law and judicial inquiry reports as they relate to sanctions and enforcement of municipal conflict of interest, before making recommendations for the improvement of remedial provisions and enforcement of the MCCIA. Other issues, such as the enforcement of municipal codes of conduct and the provincial Conflict of Interest Commissioner will also be discussed.
The Commission recommends that the remedial provisions of the Act be amended so that judges are provided with a range of available sanctions to impose when they are satisfied that there has been a breach of the conflict of interest provisions of the MCCIA, rather than only having recourse to the current all or nothing approach, in which the only penalty available is disqualification from office and a declaration that a councillor’s seat is vacant.
The report contains an extensive review of the legal background to these issues in Manitoba and an examination of other Canadian reports calling for reform of this area. It ultimately makes 18 recommendations, calling for specific amendments to modernize the act and the role of the municipal Conflict of Interest Commissioner.