Pecuniary interest

Update – March 7, 2011 – Today Council will be discussing the secondary suites issue that was discussed at the Land Use Planning and Transportation committee held last month.

Due to a conflict of interest, I was forced to recluse myself from the discussion at committee, and in turn, today’s discussion at Council.

I have met with the City of Calgary’s Legal Department on their interpretation of the Municipal Government Act pertaining to conflicts of interest.

Below is the written response provided to me via the city’s Legal Department.

The debate on the decision to excuse myself from taking part in the Land Use Planning & Transportation Committee was not a decision that came lightly.

All Councillors who are elected to represent the citizens of Calgary, and Alberta, are bound by the rules set out by the Province of Alberta’s Municipal Government Act.

My obligation to the voters of Calgary regarding issues where there is a direct pecuniary interest to what is being debated was to remove myself from the discussion. Had I not done so, I would have contravened the spirit of the Act and would have been subject to being disqualified from the Land Use Planning & Transportation Committee.

Below is the portion of the Act that guides all city councillors and was the impetus for my decision to remove myself from today’s discussion.
Pecuniary interest

170(1) Subject to subsection (3), a councillor has a pecuniary interest in a matter if

(a) the matter could monetarily affect the councillor or an employer of the councillor, or

(b) the councillor knows or should know that the matter could monetarily affect the councillor’s family.

Disclosure of pecuniary interest

172(1) When a councillor has a pecuniary interest in a matter before the council, a council committee or any other body to which the councillor is appointed as a representative of the council, the councillor must, if present,

(a) disclose the general nature of the pecuniary interest prior to any discussion of the matter,

(b) abstain from voting on any question relating to the matter,

(c) subject to subsection (3), abstain from any discussion of the matter, and

(d) subject to subsections (2) and (3), leave the room in which the meeting is being held until discussion and voting on the matter are concluded.

Disqualification of Councillors
Reasons for disqualification

174(1) A councillor is disqualified from council if (i) the councillor uses information obtained through being on council to gain a pecuniary benefit in respect of any matter;