February 21, 2017
Released: 9:19 a.m.
Winnipeg, MB. - A motion coming forward to Council tomorrow that calls on the Province of Manitoba to commit to a formal commission of inquiry needs to maintain independence from City administration and legal staff Mayor Brian Bowman said today.
“Some Councillors have been demanding public administration as well as city legal staff participate in reviewing a motion calling for a public inquiry into their own process,” said Mayor Bowman. “I firmly believe any public inquiry needs to maintain independence from administration, and I do not believe administrative and legal staff should be participating in the preparation of a motion calling for a public inquiry into their own processes.”
The motion, introduced and unanimously supported by Executive Policy Committee last week, calls on the province to commit to conducting a commission of inquiry under The Manitoba Evidence Act. It calls for the inquiry to be a broad systemic examination of all processes and procedures affecting the conduct of business between elected officials and senior public service members employed by the City and parties with whom the City may conduct business.
The Mayor noted the motion calling on the province to commit to an inquiry was researched and drafted using external legal advice from Robert Sokalski, a practicing litigator with the law firm Hill Sokalski Walsh Olson LLP.
“I committed to bringing this motion forward following serious allegations that have been very damaging to public trust in City Hall,” said Mayor Bowman. “As a Council, we need to restore public trust in City Hall and that is best done by ensuring the motion coming forward is independent from the public service and legal staff,” said Mayor Bowman.
A commission of inquiry is an investigation into an issue, event, or series of events by which the findings of facts and statements frequently go well beyond and are completely separate from matters that may be subject to police and other investigations. Inquiries also have the power to compel testimony that can bring to light issues and facts that may have previously remained dormant.
“A public inquiry is the single most effective tool available to determine facts that can then assist us in strengthening and improving city processes and procedures at the City of Winnipeg, and to rebuild public trust it is important that we maintain independence from the very processes and procedures the inquiry is meant to examine.”
Mayor Bowman continued to welcome feedback from all Councillors on the public inquiry motion. The Mayor noted that unlike many other motions brought forward to Council, his motion was made fully public for all to review a week prior to it coming to the Council floor.
“There has been lots of talk for many years about the need for a public inquiry,” said Mayor Bowman. “For the first time, Council will finally have the opportunity on Wednesday to either support or oppose a public inquiry, a step some were already convinced was needed three years ago.”
“The choice for members of Winnipeg’s City Council is clear. They can vote for accountability and call for a needed public inquiry or they can oppose it,” said Mayor Bowman.