Special Report: Integrity Commissioner

The Council Motion I Would Put Forward

Here is a way to address the deficiencies with the Integrity Commissioner's report on the incident between Councillor Lloyd Ferguson and Joey Coleman.

By David Harvey
Published March 03, 2015

Many of Hamilton's City Councillors seem hesitant to wade into the controversy surrounding the Integrity Commissioner's report into the incident between Lloyd Ferguson and Joey Coleman.

They have raised concerns about interfering with the conclusions of the Integrity Commissioner, where the intent of setting up the office of the Integrity Commissioner in the first place was to separate the politics of Council from issues regarding the Code of Conduct.

While I understand these concerns, I do not believe that means Council has no recourse when it receives a deficient report following what appears to be an incomplete investigation.

Ultimately, it is Council who has the authority and responsibility to ensure that its Code of Conduct is adhered to. If their chosen process (Integrity Commissioner) proves inadequate in any particular circumstance, they have an obligation to revisit the issue.

I believe there is a way to address this while avoiding the concerns raised by some members of Council. If I were on Hamilton's City Council, here is the motion I would put forward:

WHEREAS on February 26, 2014, an altercation took place at City Hall involving Councillor Lloyd Ferguson & Mr. Joey Coleman;

AND WHEREAS two separate complaints were made by members of the public to the Integrity Commissioner for the City of Hamilton concerning whether Councillor Ferguson’s behaviour was in violation of the City’s Code of Conduct;

AND WHEREAS a report on the incident was delivered to the City by the Integrity Commissioner on February 25, 2015;

AND WHEREAS that report was delivered 9 months after the initial complaints were made, despite by-law provisions requiring such reports to be delivered within 60 days of the initial complaint;

AND WHEREAS the Integrity Commissioner advised the City that his ability to deliver the report in a timely fashion was hampered by his personal medical issues;

AND WHEREAS the Integrity Commissioner interviewed Councillor Ferguson regarding the incident, but did not interview Mr. Coleman or any of the other several witnesses to the incident as part of his investigation;

AND WHEREAS the circumstances set out above have raised questions about the adequacy and fairness of the investigation undertaken by the Integrity Commissioner;

AND WHEREAS the report delivered by the Integrity Commissioner lacks the type of thorough review of evidence, findings of fact, analysis, reasoning and discussion of an appropriate sanction expected in such reports;

AND WHEREAS it is essential to preserving the integrity of the City of Hamilton that the investigation of complaints regarding possible violations of the Code of Conduct are seen to be thorough, fair and balanced;

THEREFORE, be it resolved that the City of Hamilton retain an independent person other than the Integrity Commissioner to conduct a new investigation & report with respect to this incident.

(FULL DISCLOSURE: Joey Coleman is a personal friend of mine.)

This article was first published on David Harvey's website.

David Harvey is a retired lawyer living in Burlington. For 20 years, he represented people who had become infected with HIV and hepatitis C through blood and blood products in Canada. He represented patient groups at the Commission of Inquiry into the Blood System in Canada (the Krever Commission). He won damages for people infected with HIV, including precedent setting cases at the Supreme Court of Canada, and negotiated a $1 billion compensation package from the federal government for people infected with hepatitis C. Follow him on Twitter @davidharvey.


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