Councillor Brenda Johnson Wants Better Process for Choosing Election Compliance Audit Committee

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During the August 8, 2015, City Council discussed a scathing report by the Ontario Ombudsman regarding an illegal closed meeting of the Election Compliance Audit Committee.

The ECAC is a Council-appointed committee which is suppose to ensure municipal election candidate follow the rules of the Municipal Elections Act.

Hamilton ECAC committee chair, Ross Anderson, can barely coordinate a meeting, iss dismissive of complaints, apologetic towards candidates facing review, and numerous times declared the committee’s role isn’t to be the “sheriff of election compliance”.

Now, we have a ruling by the Ontario Ombudsman that ECAC operated outside of the Municipal Act in holding an secret illegal closed meeting on July 15, 2015.

Councillor Brenda Johnson Calls for Better Appointment Process

ECAC is accountability theatre, and at least one Councillor wants to fix the process of Council appointing its own election overseers.

Ward 11 Councillor Brenda Johnson spoke publicly during Monday’s  before Council moved into closed session to discuss the Ombudsman’s public report (because this is Hamilton).

“Is there any movement on the process of selecting who is on this committee?”, Johnson asked the City Solicitor. “Right or wrong, the perception of us selecting is wrong.”

Johnson explained that in 2011, she was told there would be changes to how ECAC is appointed, and that she has never been comfortable with Councillors appointing the committee which then oversees them.

Ottawa’s Independent ECAC and Process

In Hamilton, the Election Compliance Audit Committee is chosen directly by City Councillors on the Selection Committee and then rubber stamped by Council.

In Ottawa, the selection process to a three person staff committee consisting of the City Clerk and Solicitor (one person), the Auditor General (an independent officer of Council), and the Deputy City Clerk.

This non-political panel then advises Council of the appointments in a report which includes the qualifications of committee appointees.

The Ottawa committee is chaired by Jean-Pierre Kingsley, the former head of Elections Canada. The other members include a retired Commissioner of Finance and Treasurer for the Region of York, retired Chief Administrative Officer of the City of Clarence-Rockland, retired Assistant Deputy Minister in the Federal government, and retired City Director of Legal and Constitutional Law of the Nunavut Territorial Government.

Should Hamilton Adopt the Ottawa Model

Should Hamilton adopt the Ottawa model and have an independent process for appointing the Election Compliance Audit Committee?

If Councillor Brenda Johnson gets traction on her push for a pretty process, it seems quiet likely.

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