News / Halifax

Halifax council to debate code of conduct, one councillor's alleged breach

Coun. Tony Mancini wants a review of the code of conduct, and council will debate complaints against another councillor behind closed doors.

Halifax City Hall

Jeff Harper/Metro / Halifax Staff

Halifax City Hall

A Halifax regional councillor is looking to add some teeth to the municipality’s code of conduct for elected officials, and his motion is coming to the same meeting where councillors will debate one of their colleagues’ conduct.

Coun. Tony Mancini has a motion coming to council on Tuesday asking for a review of Administrative Order 52, the code of conduct for councillors – something he said he’s wanted to do since he first signed the document.

“I really felt at that point in time that it needed more meat,” Mancini said in an interview.

The request comes the same day councillors are set to have an in camera debate on “Dealing with Complaints under the Code of Conduct Policy.”

The municipality told Metro it has 13 outstanding complaints under the policy, though it will not confirm which councillor is the subject of those complaints or whether they’re all related. Metro knows of at least three complaints directed at Coun. Matt Whitman, who the week before used the word “negro” during a television news interview. Whitman apologized in council chambers, but that doesn’t stop any ongoing complaint processes.

“In no way is my intent to bring this forward focused on any individual councillors,” Mancini said.

“I always had it in the back of my mind to bring it forward, but with the recent situations we’re all aware of, it kind of brought it to the surface again.”

Mancini’s motion asks for a staff review of the code looking at a requirement for an annual review; a review of the sections governing interpersonal behaviour and community representation; a periodic review of the code; an update on HRM’s request that the province allow the municipality “to censure Members of Council by remitting remuneration” for breaching the code; and a recommendation regarding the creation of an integrity commissioner for HRM.

The integrity commissioner would take an independent look at a councillor who’s been accused of breaching the code of conduct. Mancini said he’s not sure it’s the best route, but the commissioner could potentially save councillors the “tough” task of punishing their colleagues when they “get themselves in a little bit of hot water.”

“The punishment part is tough. We are all colleagues and we have relationships, so it is tough, that’s why the outside voice might make sense,” he said.

Mancini said his goal is to make sure councillors are respectful of one another and their constituents.

“We need to work with one another. We might not always get along, heck we might not even like each other, but to do the work, we need to be respectful. Not only of each other as councillors, we need to be respectful of our staff and we need to be respectful with our residents,” he said.

“Sometimes emotions get the best of us, and that’s OK, we just need to recognize the bottom line is respect.”

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