By Robert Washburn
Cobourg Mayor John Henderson said he has nothing to apologize for when he asked the council to consider bringing in an integrity commissioner to investigate a leak following a closed-door session at a regular meeting earlier this month.
Council will vote on a request made by Henderson at its next meeting on August 12. It comes after the mayor became aware of evidence of closed-door session was being discussed in public.
"There is certain language and information out there in the populous. And, I am asking the question, after hearing certain conversations, how do you have that conversation or information because that information only shared in closed session?" the mayor said.
Closed door meeting regulated under the Municipal Act and are used to discuss legal matters, the sale or purchase of property, along with personnel matters involving an identified individual. Council cannot make any decision in closed session, only discuss items. There is also a code of conduct that governs councillors behaviour that has a section dedicated to handling confidential information.
Henderson said he chose this path because he wanted to ensure the integrity of the council rather than deal with it in private conversations or issue a warning to councillors.
"There comes a point where after what I call very adequate training, orientation, to council previewing the code of conduct, bringing our in-house lawyers as part of our orientation session. There are the learning sessions for newly elected councillors. After doing that, I came to the determination to protect council itself.," he said.
He wants the public to see the process and be transparent, showing that all members, including himself, adhere to a code of conduct.
The investigation will be carried out by the newly appointed integrity commissioner, Aird & Berlis LLP.
While there may be a perception the mayor has implicated all councillors through his actions, he said this emphasizes the importance of an investigation by an outside, third party. The integrity commissioner may find nothing wrong was done, he said. That would be a good outcome, he added.
If the motion is defeated at the next council meeting on August 12, Henderson said he is ultimate goal will still be achieved.
"At least, I hope, collectively, I sent a message (about) the importance of closed session," he said.