Hamilton Council gets praise from Ombudsman

Hamilton City Council is getting credit from Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin for improving their transparency during the past year, with one reservation – Marin believes Council should’ve adopted a policy of recording their closed session meetings.

Marin’s annual report on investigations of closed municipal meetings found many municipalities continuing to illegally meet behind closed doors. Hamilton was not one of the violators.

Marin received four complaints about Hamilton Council this year, all related to a single closed-door meeting regarding the Dialogue Partners contract.

Marin found Council properly followed the Municipal Act’s exception for “solicitor-client” privilege.

Marin did criticize Hamilton Council for deciding to not record closed meetings. Council was concerned the recordings could be used in a court proceeding against Council and asked the province to pass legislation to ensure they could not.

The positive review of Council’s open meeting performance in 2013 is in stark contrast from last year’s annual report when Hamilton Council – and it’s former City Solicitor – were criticized for both violating the letter and spirit of the Municipal Act.

Andre Marin is presently (starting at 1pm) holding a news conference which you can watch live on the Ombudsman’s website here: http://www.ombudsman.on.ca/