Character Integrity of the election candidate is an important consideration for voters. Unexposed character faults in a politician's life will eventually affect their performance of duties through a resurgence of the undesirable behaviour.
One of the Federal election candidates in the riding of Markham-Unionville exhibited such character faults a few years ago and appeared not to be remorseful about it.
Federal Liberal Party candidate (Markham ward Councillor Alan Ho) became the first Chinese Council member in Markham who received a complaint on a violation of the “Code of Conduct” governing the behaviour of Council members.
There are 444 municipalities in the province of Ontario. Each one of these municipalities has its own council and councillors to deal with the daily operations of supplying services to their residents. Meetings are held both in public and in-camera to conduct business similar to those of any private corporation.
For many of the larger municipalities, an Integrity Commissioner is employed or contracted to maintain high standards of ethical conduct through the disclosure of wrongdoings. It is independent of the Council members, striving to encourage and sustain a culture of integrity and accountability. For those municipalities that cannot afford the luxury of their own Integrity Commissioner, residents can look to the Ontario Ombudsman to file their complaints.
Under Bill 8, the Public Sector and MPP Accountability and Transparency Act, 2014, the Ombudsman’s mandate has been expanded to municipalities, universities, school boards, hospitals and long-term care homes, children’s aid societies and police. The Ombudsman can investigate complaints about school boards as of September 1, 2015, and municipalities and universities as of January 1, 2016.
2013年6月26日，万锦市议会外聘ADR Chambers Inc.公司为万锦市提供廉政监督服务。作为万锦廉政专员，ADR Chambers Inc.确保万锦市向居民提供负责和透明的服务。廉政专员将调查被投诉的市议员，并确定被投诉的市议员是否违反了“市议会的行为操守”。
On June 26, 2013 Markham Council approved the appointment of ADR Chambers Inc. to provide Integrity Commissioner services for the City of Markham. This role will assist the City of Markham in its efforts to continue to provide accountable and transparent services to the residents of Markham. The Integrity Commissioner will play a role in investigating complaints about the conduct of Members of Council and determining whether or not there has been a violation of the Code of Conduct.
In February 2016, a complaint was made by a resident on Councillor Alan Ho. It was alleged that Councillor Ho violated sections 16.1 and 17.2 of the code relating to the “Conduct at Meeting” and “Conduct of Members” during the City Council Meeting of January 25, 2016.
In the Integrity Commissioner’s report (available on City of Markham’s web site), it was revealed that Councillor Ho used the term “ignorant” and a Chinese Idiom “Frogs in the well” to express his views on fellow councillors who opposed to adding $8,900 to the India Trip budget. The Integrity Commission then requested both Councillor Ho and the complainant to provide him with a written response by way of affidavit.
As Chinese ourselves, we understand the true meaning of the analogy “Frogs in the well”. Councillor Ho, however, explained it like this: “Simply put, the frogs in the well should have the freedom to choose to stay contentedly on the bottom of the well or be one of the frogs who jumps out to expand their horizons”.
感觉自己被冒犯的市议员之一Karen Rea认为何议员的这番话很粗鲁。她认为议员有权发表同意和不同意的意见，但是人们期望民选政客遵守职业操守，他们不应说任何不尊重别人的话。不认同何议员这番话的多个电子邮件转给了市议会的议员们，并由Karen Rea议员提交给了廉政专员。何议员认为那些电子邮件是他的政敌们干的。
Councillor Karen Rea, one of the offended councillors, felt that Councillor Ho’s comments were rude. She felt that Councillors are entitled to an opinion and can agree to disagree, but there are important professional expectations for elected officials and they should not say anything disrespectful. Emails on this subject opposing to Councillor Ho’s comments were received by members of Council and presented by Councillor Rea to the Integrity Commissioner. Councillor Ho chose to believe that those emails were written by his political opponents.
Councillor Ho did not believe that he violated the Code of Conduct implemented by the City of Markham. He stated that he had never intended at any time to apologize at a Council meeting, contrary to what the resident’s affidavit claim of this being promised by him.
The Integrity Commissioner gathered all the evidence and wrote his report. On May 13, 2016 the Integrity Commissioner for the City of Markham concluded Ho's comments in Council were not respectful of other members and the public and recommended the Council to impose a reprimand on him.
In the end, Council did not act on the Integrity Commissioner's recommendation. In June 2016, the motion to effect the Integrity Commissioner's report was lost in a tie recorded vote during a closed door (in-camera) session. This was a slap in the face of the Integrity Commissioner as enough votes were mustered by Alan's supporters within Council to neuter his work on the file.
Nevertheless, the Integrity Commissioner's findings let us in on the one side of Alan's character that appear to be troublesome for advancements in his political career. Alan was not remorseful as he never offered an apology to those he offended and claimed that he never intended to do so, contrary to the complainant's testimony. There are no assurances that Alan, if elected, would not manifest this cantankerous behaviour in future.
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