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New rules coming

City set to welcome next integrity commish

Vaughan’s new integrity commissioner says her job isn’t the cleanup of city hall.

It’s to create rules and make sure they’re being followed.

Suzanne Craig, who will be leaving her post as Toronto’s director of corporate access and privacy to take up her new position on April 6, says she’s heard the cleanup suggestion and it’s presumptuous.

“I don’t know that Vaughan needs to be cleaned up,” she said Tuesday. “I’m a small part of a bigger picture that has to start now in Vaughan, and I’m looking forward to working with the people of Vaughan, members of council and city staff to ensure that that happens.”

Craig replaces William Weissglas, the city’s first part-time integrity commissioner, who stepped down in November for health reasons.

She holds master’s and doctorate degrees in law, counts the provincial ministries of the attorney general and environment as past employers, and boasts years of public sector experience in management, ethics and dispute resolution.

It’s an impressive resumé, says Alan Shefman, Ward 5 councillor and chair of the Accountability and Transparency Committee.

“She has just about every qualification that one could want from the person in this job: municipal experience, experience with integrity issues, experience with privacy issues, experience with municipal council, legal background,” he said Tuesday.

Craig also worked closely with Toronto’s integrity commissioner, Shefman added.

“I came to the City of Toronto three and a half years ago in a situation that was different but similar: access and privacy, openness and transparency at the City of Toronto was in a chaotic state,” Craig said. “I think at the time when I was hired here at the City of Toronto, they were looking for someone to put in place a framework, to get the message out and to make sure that those rules were followed.

“I think I’ve been somewhat successful in that regard.”

She plans to do the same in Vaughan, though she acknowledged it won’t be easy. Part of her task, she said, will be to create guidelines for the conduct of the council members and an investigation protocol to ensure an effective and equitable way of dealing with contraventions of those guidelines.

“Municipal government is about respect, it’s about trust and it’s also about ensuring that guidelines are followed,” Craig said. “Before they can be followed, they have to be set out.

“In a nutshell, I think that my job will be to ensure that I understand and then put in place what other people can understand as roles and responsibilities.”

Craig was selected from a shortlist of four candidates interviewed for the position, Shefman said. Her appointment after a quick two-and-a-half month search, he said, “reaffirms the seriousness that this council addresses issues of integrity”.

“I think she’ll do an extraordinary job,” he said.

Vaughan Today
In print: March 20, 2009, page 5
Online: March 24, 2009 [link]