Burlington wants the right to kick bad-behaving politicians out of office


Published May 18, 2023 at 11:24 am

Burlington councillors want the right to remove elected officials from office if they behave badly.

City council this week adopted a motion that urges the Provincial government to approve legislation that would, in extreme cases, allow councillors to remove colleagues from their elected positions for behaviour such as abuse or prolonged harassment.

The abuse can come in the form of one councillor harassing another or members of City staff.

The move follows incidents in other Ontario municipalities where elected officials have been accused of aggressive behaviour towards one another and office staff.

Along with removing an official from office, the City also wants to be able to discipline and enforce penalties against politicians for lesser acts of aggression.

Currently, in Ontario, codes of conduct only cover government employees and not those who have been elected. Historically, the system has been ruled by democracy, where only the public can remove a member of office through the election process.

Burlington wants the Ontario government to create a code of conduct or allow municipalities to create their own codes to deal with these matters. The City also  supports a Private Members Bill before the Legislature entitled “Stopping Harassment and Abuse by Local Leaders Act.”

In presenting the motion Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns said allowing the changes would be an important step forward in protecting the rights of elected officials to serve without fear of harassment or intimidation.

“It’s essential that our elected representatives are able to work without being subjected to abusive language or actions from other officials, employees or members of the public,” said Kearns. “The changes proposed in this Bill will help ensure elected officials have the necessary tools and protections they need to effectively serve their constituents.”

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward said there have been cases in other municipalities of “egregious behaviour” by politicians and there are too few tools available to correct the behaviour.

The mayor stressed that removing someone from office would only be done in “worst-case scenarios” when other disciplinary measures have failed.

“Elected officials should not be above normal human rights and workplace expectations of behaviour and yet there have not been adequate tools to hold elected officials to the same standards that we would hold our staff,” said the mayor.


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