Staff deserve better than to be used as a political football by City Council
Toronto Taxpayers Coalition welcomes the release of two reports that have found Councillors Adam Vaughan (Ward 20 Trinity—Spadina) and Mike Layton (Ward 19 Trinity—Spadina) in breach of the Code of Conduct for Members of Council (“Code of Conduct”). The councillors were found to have “maliciously or falsely injured the professional or ethical reputation … of staff” as prohibited by the Code of Conduct in a series of reports by Integrity Commissioner Janet Leiper.
“This is why we have the Code of Conduct in place,” stated coalition spokesman Matthew McGuire. “Councillors do not have carte blanche to malign staff in this manner. We’re hopeful the Integrity Commissioner’s findings will guide councillors to be mindful of their behaviour.”
The breaches in question date back to April 8th, 2013 when the City Manager released a report entitled New Casino and Development in Toronto (“The Casino Report”). Rather than offering expressions of professional or moral disagreement, both councillors were found to have maligned city staff. Toronto Taxpayers Coalition immediately called on both councillors to apologize, and both refused. The coalition then made good on its threat to file formal complaints against both councillors.
The coalition noted that as a Certified General Accountant, City Manager Joe Pennachetti is subject to the ethical principles of his governing body. These principles require him to act with “trustworthiness, integrity and objectivity” and to “not be associated with any information which the member knows, or ought to know, to be false or misleading, whether by statement or omission.”
However, the coalition disagrees with the Integrity Commissioner’s recommendation which suggests no further action be taken because both councillors have apologized in private.
“If Adam Vaughan and Mike Layton made false and misleading statements, taxpayers have a right to know” McGuire said, “especially if those comments affected the outcome of a vote at city council.” McGuire argues the unexpectedly one-sided vote is evidence false statements by both councillors did indeed affect the outcome of the vote.
“The public heard the offending words, but they don’t get to hear the words of apology,” McGuire noted. “We think it’s only fair that council votes to ask both city councillors to give a clear ‘I’m sorry’”.
“We spoke with several city staff throughout this process and we were very impressed with the professionalism and integrity of everyone involved. Staff deserve better than to be used as a political football by City Council,” McGuire added.
“But ultimately city council will decide if they condone this behaviour.”