Ontario’s Ombudsman has cleared Hawkesbury Council in an alleged contravention of The Municipal Act.
In a letter dated March 17, Ombudsman Paul Dubé explained his office received a complaint questioning if an in camera (closed) session council meeting should have occurred on November 8, 2021. Dubé’s office reviewed the agenda, along with both the open and closed session minutes of that council meeting, within the context of Section 239 of the Municipal Act which “could concern information regarding an identifiable individual”. The Ombudsman’s office also spoke with the municipal clerk about the meeting.
Dubé’s review found that during the closed session council primarily discussed the conduct and performance of a specific individual. Council also briefly discussed the conduct of another individual, the content of a report, the merit of its findings, and whether or not to accept that report.
Dubé concluded that the closed session discussions fell within the context of Section 239 of the Municipal Act, when council used the provision of the act allowing the exception to having a public meeting when personal matters about an identifiable individual are being discussed.
On March 28, Hawkesbury Council voted to receive the Ombudsman’s report.