A government watchdog says some municipal councils in Ontario are still violating the so-called Sunshine Law by holding closed-door meetings and taking votes in secret.
Ombudsman Andre Marin says the majority of municipal councils follow the rules on open meetings, but some are “shockingly secretive, suspicious and resentful of the very idea they can be investigated.”
Mr. Marin says a series of closed-door meetings held by city council in Sudbury did fit within the exemption for personal matters about an identifiable individual.
However, every Sudbury councillor asked to have a lawyer for their interviews with the Ombudsman’s office, and ten flatly refused to be interviewed after being told they could not have legal representation.
Mr. Marin also singles out councillors in the southwestern town of Amherstburg for routinely engaging in improper voting behind closed doors.
The Ombudsman wants all municipal councils to keep audio or video recordings of their meetings, including the private ones, to make sure they follow the rules.
“Some councils are models of transparency; others are shockingly secretive and even defiant in the face of public complaints,” said Mr. Marin.
“Transparency in government should not depend on where you live...(or) on the whims of local politicians.”