Tougher and more enforceable.
That’s how MLA Kevin O’Reilly describes the new draft code of conduct for members of the Legislative Assembly. O’Reilly is the chair of the committee seeking public comment on the new code of conduct and Bill 56.
That bill establishes the office of the integrity commissioner which will be the person to go to if you have complaints about MLA conduct.
If watching paint dry sounds more interesting than going to a public meeting on this stuff, here’s why O’Reilly says it’s worth going.
“People don’t tend to hold politicians in terribly high regard, well here’s a way to ensure that politicians can be held more accountable.”
A few ways the new code of conduct would do so is by explicitly defending against harassment in the workplace. The previous code didn’t mention harassment at all. Another is to ensure MLAs give priority to that role if they’re a member of other kinds of boards or organizations.
Finally, the code of conduct protects against the misuse of constituent information.
The establishment of an integrity commissioner is also important as it will deal with a much broader scope of complaints.
Right now, unless an MLA runs afoul of conflict of interest regulations, there isn’t much recourse for residents that have issues with MLA conduct.
For example, if someone does feel harassed by an MLA, the integrity commissioner will be the recourse.
The effectiveness of the new commissioner remains to be seen.
Asked if there was any time limits on taking action on complaints, O’Reilly said there wasn’t anything like that but that every complaint will receive a response—which could also include a refusal if the complaint is deemed unworthy of any action.
The committee is hosting three public meetings this week. The first one is tonight, Monday June 17, in Fort Smith at 7 p.m., at the Northern Life Museum, then tomorrow in Inuvik at 7 p.m. at the Midnight Sun Complex, and finally, in Yellowknife on Wednesday evening at 7 p.m. in Committee Room ‘A’ on the second floor of the Legislative Assembly