Emo mayor investigated by integrity commissioner

Merna Emara
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Emo Mayor Harold McQuaker is currently being investigated by the township’s integrity commissioner. Because the investigation is active, the nature of the complaint will not be disclosed until a decision is made.
During the public portion of the last Emo municipal council meeting, McQuaker disclosed that he is being investigated, but has declined further comment.
Members of the public can initiate integrity commissioner investigations when they suspect wrongdoing by council members. The Township has two integrity commissioners, Darrell Matson and Tim Commisso, who are appointed to serve when complaints are filed. The Township of Emo has two forms: a code of conduct complaint form and an application for municipal integrity commissioner investigation under the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act (MCIA).
The code of conduct complaint form is a formal request for the Township of Emo’s Integrity Commissioner to conduct an inquiry about whether or not a specific member of the Emo Municipal Council has contravened the Council Code of Conduct.
An Application for Municipal Integrity Commissioner Investigation under the MCIA is a signed affidavit, filed when one or more council members are believed to have breached the Act. According to the government of Ontario, the MCIA sets out ethical rules for council and local board members, if they have certain pecuniary (financial) interests in a matter that is before their council or local board at a meeting.
For example, a member is required to take steps if they are present at a council or local board meeting where their land or business, or the land or business of a family member, will be discussed. A council member with pecuniary interest is required to disclose the nature of the interest before the matter is being publicly considered at the meeting, and cannot attempt to influence voting before, during or after the meeting. In a meeting closed to the public, council members with pecuniary interest are required to immediately excuse themselves and not take part in the discussion or voting on any question in respect of the matter, according to the government of Ontario.
The government of Ontario also outlines the roles of the assigned integrity commissioners. Upon completing an investigation, a report is provided to council, which must be made available to the public by law. The report will outline the findings of the investigation and a recommendation, which the rest of council considers.
In the case of an investigation under the MCIA, it is at the discretion of the integrity commissioner whether to advance the case to a judge for consideration. If the commissioner decides against bringing the case to a judge, the individual who filed the complaint may still do so. If the judge decides a violation of the MCIA has taken place, penalties may be imposed by the courts, up to and including the council member’s removal from office.