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Do You Need An Ethics Nanny?

Thursday, Mar. 31, 2011


The role of an ethics commission is an important one. It can provide an independent look at charges of impropriety, and be protected from the political impact of disciplinary hearings.
A recent column in the Chronicle-Herald, a Canadian paper, criticizes the Halifax regional councillors for their proposal to hire an integrity commissioner. Describing such a person as an “ethics nanny,” Marilla Stephenson cites the cost of adding the position as one opposing argument. She says the 24-member council should be able to do the job themselves, even in a divisive and “backstabbing” environment.
According to a story from CBC News, the Council adopted the code of conduct in May 2009, but without guidelines for implementation. “During that time, council has continued to grapple with two main violations of the code — leaks to the news media and questions surrounding abuse of alcohol at public functions.”
Councilor Linda Mosher supports the new position, saying that self-policing doesn’t work. “So, if we don't have any third-party integrity commissioner or somebody that we can go to, these issues just keep coming and coming,” she said. "We owe it to the public. We're elected public officials. We have to treat people with dignity and respect and treat our taxpayers the same way."
Do you think elected officials can “police” themselves when it comes to ethical behavior? In these difficult economic times is it worth the cost to add an integrity commissioner or create an ethics commission?
Post your thoughts and best practices here.


Tags: ethics codes, ethics commissioner, Halifax

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