So what does Kanata Coun. Allan Hubley think about taxpayers forking out their money to pay for an assistant a city councillor is both supervising and sleeping with?
Hard to know, despite the answer being obvious.
Hubley was one of several councillors who declined to answer that exact question posed by In the City, On the Burbs.
Councillors can’t hire their spouses or their children, but they can have an affair with someone they supervise – or even hire someone they’re already sleeping with.
As Integrity Commissioner Bob Marleau said in an interview with In the City, On the Burbs, it may not be smart, but it’s allowed.
That is crazy.
And given the current climate, where sexual misconduct and assault are under the microscope, something should be done about this — now.
But strangely, councillors are reticent to get involved.
Why is that?
“I wouldn’t do it (and never have). I don’t get involved in personal issues with others,” wrote Kanata Coun. Marianne Wilkinson.
Councillors put their fingers into so many issues, strange they aren’t interested in closing this loophole.Are they blind to the realities?
Almost universally, those councillors who did reply were quick to point out nothing of the sort has ever happened in their office.
“This is not something I’ve had to give considerable thought to before, certainly never something that’s happened in my office,” replied Gloucester-Southgate Coun. Diane Deans.
Kudos go to Cumberland Coun. Bob Monette who answered quickly and vehemently.
“I think it would inappropriate for any of these actions be taken by councillors and relationships of this nature should be considered as common-law spouses if it gets to this points. As far as a rule goes, I leave that to the Clerk’s office, however as I mentioned I find it grossly inappropriate to have that kind of relationship with a staff person,” Monette wrote.
Good on him.
The normally forthright talker, Barrhaven. Jan Harder said she didn’t know enough about the issue to get involved.
“I would need to know if HR principles in general or specifically would allow it but it is not something I think about….ever,” Harder wrote.
For the record, city staff can’t engage in a romantic or sexual relationship with anyone they supervise. That’s a smart thing, obviously.
It should be the same for city councillors.
As Marleau pointed out, there’s an obvious concern if a councillor, who oversees an employee, comes on to their employee.
A clear concern there about the balance of power.
Kitchissippi Coun. Jeff Leiper put it very succinctly and accurately.
“I don’t believe that it’s ever possible to have a consensual relationship between a boss and subordinate because of the power imbalance. So, it’s never appropriate to have a sexual relationship, the appropriateness of which always relies on consent.
“As we spoke about, I want to think more about how that can be regulated. I haven’t got an answer for your today, but it’s a good conversation to have.”
Even Rideau-Goulbourn Coun. Scott Moffatt suggested he didn’t think council needed to get involved with regulating such behaviour.
“I wouldn’t exactly say that the relationship you have described is permitted. Just because something isn’t explicitly written down in our rules and regulations doesn’t mean Councillors and staff can do as they please. The Council Code of Conduct does have policies that would pertain to improper influence if that were the case, such as Section IV: Discrimination and Harassment and Section V: Improper Use of Influence. The common concern in these types of relationships is always the person in power using their position to facilitate the relationship or the staff member not feeling as though they can object because of their position within the office. These policies do speak to that, in my opinion.
“Having said all of that, this is about judgment and a basic comprehension of ethics. If an employer and a staff member enter into a consensual relationship, common principles would dictate they should do so considering the relationship and take subsequent steps to remove that employer/employee relationship from the equation. I don’t think we need definitive policies to that effect and that one’s best judgement should lead them in the right direction.”
Among those silent was Mayor Jim Watson, who seems to have a propensity for regulation.
Why is this being allowed?