KAGAWONG – Billings’ integrity commissioner (IC) is considering a request from several Billings Township residents to have the names released of those who put complaints forward to the commissioner that led to an investigation of two township councillors on conflict of interest, and one member of a council ad hoc committee who had been accused of breaching the Billings Code of Conduct. In all three cases the complaints were rejected by the IC.
“I have received a list of Billings township residents who have sent a request to the township and forward to the IC to reveal the names of the persons involved in the complaints against two councillors and a member of a township ad hoc committee,” said Peggy Lovelace, of Expertise 4 Municipalities last week. She pointed out it is at the discretion of the IC if they will disclose the names of persons who have filed a complaint, but there is no requirement that the IC must reveal this information.
“One of the reasons we don’t normally reveal the names of those who have lodged complaints is because often a complainant is afraid to make a complaint in the first place,” said Ms. Lovelace. However, “if someone repeatedly puts forward complaints that prove to be vexatious and not true in nature, especially if someone is basically abusing the system and making complaints that are not true, then we can reveal the name of the complainant. I haven’t discussed with our investigation team if they feel this is the case here. I will make a decision on the request once I have discussed this with the investigation team, as to whether we should consider this, in this case.”
Ms. Lovelace said one thing she would like to see put in place, “is public education to be released as to what council’s responsibility is, and what is not their responsibility. In many letters to the editor there is a lot of misinformation put out as to what a council’s role is.”
The Expositor has learned that a total of 12 letters have been forwarded from local residents requesting the names of the people who have filed complaints against the two councillors and the ad hoc committee member to the integrity commission office.