It is difficult to put a price on integrity, but the United Counties of Prescott and Russell (UCPR) and most of its municipalities do put a price on investigating it.
During the closed session of the February 20 UCPR council meeting, an integrity commissioner for the counties was appointed. The role of the commissioner is to investigate allegations of violations of ethics and municipal codes of conduct by members of council.
Confirmation has since been obtained from UCPR Chief of Staff and Communications Manager Justin Bromberg that the new Integrity Commissioner is John Saywell, a lawyer and former mayor of Grenville-sur-la-Rouge, Québec.
The UCPR and its eight municipalities have recently adopted and/or updated codes of conduct for members of council and local boards. Those measures include appointing an integrity commissioner to investigate any complaints registered by citizens of the municipalities. The municipal councils have, or are planning to enter into service agreements with the UCPR and use Saywell as their commissioner.
But, with a couple of exceptions, making a complaint will cost citizens.
The fee to file an ethics complaint with the UCPR is $100 and can be refunded once the commissioner’s report has been tabled.
Alfred-Plantagenet council has adopted a fee and refund policy identical to the UCPR’s.
In Champlain Township, the fee is $100, and non-refundable if the complaint is frivolous or vexatious. Its policy connected to the integrity commissioner is slated for approval at council’s regular meeting on March 12, 2019.
The same $100 fee and refund policy applies in the Town of Hawkesbury.
On March 4, La Nation council set its fee for filing a complaint at a non-refundable $300.
Saywell was to appear before East Hawkesbury council on March 11 and council was to adopt its agreement with the UCPR for his services at that meeting. Chief Administrative Officer Luc Lalonde described East Hawkesbury’s $300 fee as a deposit. The funds are returned to complainants if the complaint is not frivolous.
The Village of Casselman approved its new code of conduct on January 22. Clerk Sébastien Dion said Saywell will be the municipal integrity commissioner, but council has not yet decided if citizens will have to pay a fee to register a complaint. Dion said council will make its decision when it meets on March 26.
The City of Clarence-Rockland has also appointed Saywell as its integrity commissioner. According to City Clerk Monique Ouellet, council has not imposed a fee.
In Russell Township, the fee to file a complaint with the integrity commissioner is $250.