Possible breach of Closed Session info will be debated

By Cecilia Nasmith

A possible breach of confidence is the subject of a notice of motion brought to Cobourg council this week by Mayor John Henderson.

Deputy Mayor Suzanne Seguin said she would not be comfortable making the motion to refer it to an upcoming meeting, but Councillor Brian Darling agreed to do so.

Henderson said he is unable to share any details at this time, but the notice of motion did state that Cobourg's mayor, council and chief administrative officer Stephen Peacock “have reason to believe that confidential Closed Session information, directions to staff and in-camera discussions are being shared outside of Closed Session.”

Such an action would breach the town's Council Code of Conduct as well as Procedural Bylaw 009-2019 for council members and administration, not to mention negatively affecting the integrity of the democratic process and potentially putting members of council and staff at risk.

“This type of activity could have the potential to affect any council member's decision on relevant matters,” the notice of motion said, calling for a thorough investigation on the June 3, 2019, Closed Session by the town's Integrity Commissioner “to determine the source or sources of the breach of trust and the disclosed Closed Session information.”

The agenda for council's June 3 committee-of-the-whole meeting had one item of in-camera business. Meeting in Closed Session in accordance with Section 239 of the Municipal Act 2001, they were to discuss personal matters about an identifiable individual (including municipal or local-board employees) in relation to a personnel contract matter.

Under the terms of the notice of motion, the findings, as well as recommendations for any penalties warranted, will be shared with council as well as the public.

Darling's motion referred the matter to the July 22 committee-of-the-whole meeting. However, Councillor Nicole Beatty asked to have the motion amended to bring the matter to the Aug. 12 meeting, as she will be away July 22 in the Bahamas to volunteer on a United Nations project on food security and waste management.

“My amendment is to refer to the Aug. 12 meeting – selfishly, that's just so I can be in attendance and participate in the conversation,” Beatty said.

Her amended motion was passed.