Public perception of the decision-making process of municipal government is critical to the reputation and the level of trust the public will have for its government. This perception shapes the public’s opinion of Council’s personal integrity, honesty and performance.
Members of Council are trustees for the public and there is an expectation that Members of Council will operate from a base of integrity, transparency, justice and courtesy. As a result, Council for the City of Hamilton developed a Code of Conduct for Members of Council and created the Office of the Integrity Commissioner to enforce the Code of Conduct.
The Code of Conduct is not intended to replace personal ethics but is a written guide designed to ensure that members of Council share a common standard of acceptable conduct to enhance public confidence that Council operates from a base of justice, courtesy, integrity and transparency.
The key statements of principle that underlie the Code of Conduct are as follows:
The primary objective of the Office of the Integrity Commissioner is to advise and guide Members of Council on the requirements and prohibitions contained in the Code of Conduct with a view to preventing ethics violations before they occur.
a) Members of Council shall serve and be seen to serve their constituents in a conscientious and diligent manner;
b) Members of Council shall be committed to performing their functions with integrity and to avoiding the improper use of the influence of their office, and conflicts of interest, both apparent and real;
c) Members of Council shall perform their duties in office and arrange their private affairs in a manner that promotes public confidence and will bear close public scrutiny; and
d) Members of Council shall seek to serve the public interest by upholding both the letter and the spirit of the laws and policies established by the Federal Parliament, Ontario Legislature, and Council.