The issue of whether there should be a code of conduct governing the behavior of Mayor Naheed Nenshi, or any incumbent councillor running for the top job, is being sent to the city’s ethics adviser.
The motion was brought forward by councillor Jim Stevenson, who said he was concerned about Nenshi endorsing candidates during ward elections and that it could lead to the creation of ‘slates’, or groups of candidates running on a common platform.
“This is exactly what I want to prevent, I do not want to see parties or slates working at the municipal level. We see it in so many other municipalities across the country,” Stevenson said.
Council has asked the ethics adviser to look into whether such a code of conduct is needed, and if it should be extended to all members of council.
But, the Mayor said he is perturbed that such an idea has come forward and that restrictions on opinions during an election campaign would infringe on his or any other candidate’s rights.
“Any restriction on freedom of speech for anyone, during a campaign period or not, would be so incredibly ultra vires, so beyond the powers that we have as a council, or beyond the powers that the ethics adviser could possibly have, that this is a giant waste of time,” Nenshi said.
Councillor Druh Farrell, who received an endorsement from Mayor Nenshi in the last election, also spoke out against the motion.
“I was flummoxed by this motion, it’s really a solution looking for a problem and I don’t think it’s worth doing,” said Farrell. “During the election, that’s when people are looking at us for our opinions and I don’t want to see anyone fettered on their opinions.”
With files from Aurelio Perri