By Pam Wright
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The Municipality of Chatham-Kent has a new integrity commissioner starting Nov. 26.
At its Nov. 6 meeting, council approved the hiring of Suzanne Craig of SC Consulting in a 17 to 1 vote, with only North Kent Coun. Rhonda Jubenville dissenting.
The new hire is needed, as the four-year contract for Mary Ellen Bench of Bench Municipal Law & Governance expires this month. SC Consulting will be retained for a two-year period.
The role of the integrity commissioner is to investigate complaints and alleged breaches of the municipal code of conduct, with review of the code to be conducted annually. The IC also serves as an advisor to individual councillors, keeps council apprised of municipal legislation, provides pro-active education and investigates complaints and alleged breaches of the code.
Earlier this year, Jubenville was sanctioned by council following a recommendation from Bench. An investigation by Bench concluded that social media posts and actions taken by Jubenville in relation to municipal flag raisings contravened the code of conduct.
Jubenville’s pay was suspended for a three-month period, the harshest penalty available to council.
In her comments to council, Jubenville said she does not agree with the office of the integrity commission in itself.
“I believe the office of the integrity commissioner is flawed,” Jubenville said.
“Where in the democratic process in Canada does one singular person have the arbitrary power to be a judge, juror and prosecutor?” Jubenville asked, stressing she can’t support the office of the IC in its present form.
Chatham Coun. Brock McGregor, the only other councillor to speak on the issue, said he was pleased with the new appointment.
“I’m glad to see we are appointing someone and I know it can be a really helpful resource when we’re looking at advice on conflicts of interest and a whole other host of issues that we face as councillors,” McGregor said.