Citizens expect integrity in the decisions and day-to-day operations of their public institutions and elected officials at all levels — including municipal governments and municipal officials. Identifying, addressing and managing conflicts of interest are key to good governance and maintaining the public’s trust and confidence in their public institutions. The province has strengthened municipal legislation to help municipalities ensure proper policies, procedures and practices are in place.
Conflict of interest provisions are found in Part VII of The Municipalities Act, Part VII of The Cities Act, or Part VII of The Northern Municipalities Act, 2010. It is important to recognize that the legislation regarding conflict of interest is not the only word on the matter. There is a great deal of common law regarding conflict of interest and the conduct of elected officials in potential conflict situations that may apply if legislation does not fully address the matter.
A conflict of interest occurs when a person in public life is in a position where a private interest may, or may appear to conflict with his or her role as a municipal council member. Conflict of interest provisions recognize that the judgement of even the most well-meaning person may be impaired when their own interests or the interests of someone close to them are affected. Conflict of interest provisions exist because council members must make decisions in the best interest of the municipality first and foremost.