Councillors defended the decision of Calgary’s integrity commissioner and refused to forward an ethics investigation to Calgary police and the province.
Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra wasn’t in council chambers to start the second day of a combined meeting of council, where his colleagues determined if any further action was warranted.
The notice of motion was brought forward by Couns. Jennifer Wyness and Sonya Sharp and it asked for Carra’s ethics investigation to be sent to the province and police for further review and potential action.
Carra was sanctioned by the integrity commissioner for the failure to disclose his interest in an Inglewood property, not once, but twice.
“The integrity report has more questions than answers and also has a limited scope,” Coun. Wyness said.
She said that the city doesn’t provide the integrity commissioner the resources to go beyond the council code of conduct. That’s why this was brought forward.
“It is in our best interest as a council to build trust with Calgarians and the office of the councillors for which we swore an oath to refer this on to a neutral third party,” Wyness said.
Carra apologized on Tuesday at the start of the meeting.
While fellow councillors were deeply disappointed with Carra’s oversight, most suggested it would be unwise to supersede the city’s integrity commissioner.
Ward 14 Coun. Peter Demong actually referred to Carra as a “dumbass” for his lack of disclosure. The mayor asked for a retraction and Demong initially said he wouldn’t, then ultimately did.
“I do not believe it is my job or the job of this council to suddenly supersede the authority of our integrity commissioner by moving forward with an action over and above what has been recommended in the report to city council,” Demong said.
Responsibility to accountable government: Coun. Sharp
Ward 1 Coun. Sonya Sharp said this is an issue of money.
“When money is involved, Calgarians expect a high level of accountability and transparency. And I believe each and every one of you campaigned on that,” Sharp told her colleagues.
She said they weren’t directing any specific action – just that it gets another set of eyes from a different body.
“It’s not up to us to speculate on the result of these referrals or what these referrals might be,” said Coun. Sharp.
“We’re completely showing citizens of Calgary, that we’re truly committed to transparency and accountability.”
Ward 12 Coun. Evan Spencer said that it was important to take the politics out of this decision.
“I’m definitely leaning towards voting yes on this because I do think stewarding the public perception of our local governance is important and I think that was a lot of what motivated came forward,” he said.
In her close, Coun. Wyness said that hearing the comments around the table she said felt colleagues were allowing Carra to get off scot-free.
“There are a lot more questions that this council is letting skate because it appears you’re trying to protect your friend,” she said.
She suggested that they were giving an out to an elected official at a time when trust in public officials is at an “all-time low.”
Carra must still complete ethics and records management training.