Skip to content

Oh, behave! Coquitlam eyes code of conduct for elected officials

The draft code of conduct would offer general guidelines on safe, civil and ethical conduct at the Coquitlam council table and beyond.
Coquitlam city council.

Coquitlam city council will soon have a new code of conduct for elected officials.

On Monday (April 24), the city's council-in-committee got a peek at the draft code, a document that calls for civic politicians to behave and be respectful of each other, municipal staff and the public.

The move comes after the provincial government last year changed the Community Charter — the legislation that guides municipalities — to require B.C. councils and boards to set up their own codes of conduct, if one isn't already in place; it is to be reviewed after each general election.

Coquitlam's draft code is based on a model by the provincial government, Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) and Local Government Management Association’s Working Group on Responsible Conduct.

In general, it follows five themes:

  • integrity (behaving honestly and ethically)
  • respect (valuing the perspectives, wishes and rights of others)
  • accountability (willingly accepting responsibility and accounting for one’s actions)
  • leadership (leading, listening to and positively influencing others)
  • collaboration (coming together to create or meet a common goal through collective efforts)

Still, while most of council was receptive to the proposed code, Coun. Trish Mandewo said it doesn't go far enough and opposed the draft policy.

"This is way, way, way too general," she said, noting the lack of procedures and penalties for those who flout the code.

"The language is too light....When the time comes, it's not going to save anybody."

But others pointed out the existing federal and provincial rules for elected officials who breach conflict of interest, confidentiality and privacy, as well as use influence peddling.

The new local government code would be more general to offer guidelines on safe, civil and ethical conduct, said Stephanie James, general manager of Coquitlam's legislative services, noting the code would restore confidence in city council and "set the tone of the organization."

"I am supportive of developing a code of conduct because we don’t need one," Mayor Richard Stewart said, referring to council's already amicable relationship and professionalism.

Added Coun. Teri Towner, "I do believe these principals are necessary for effective governance of our city....It's a good start."