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Municipal Lawyer says city councillors need to know their roles

'Councillors are not managers and are not supervisors.'
Municipal Lawyer Paul Cassan talks at a FONOM seminar this afternoon at Nipissing University. Photo by Chris Dawson.

Lawyer Paul Cassan believes following procedure can literally save a life. 

Cassan, a lawyer and founder of the Wishart Municipal Law Group spoke at the Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities (FONOM) event this afternoon, which is part of a number of FONOM seminars going on at Nipissing University all this week. 

He referred to a tragic accident that occurred in southern Ontario when a councillor went directly to a road supervisor during a flood situation, when in fact the councillor should have contacted the CAO.  The communication breakdown led indirectly to a flood related death.   

“The city administrator sits between the council and city employees,” stated Cassan.  

The Sault Ste. Marie based lawyer also made a hockey related analogy to the local mayors and councillors attending his event.  

“If a goaltender decides to rush down the ice and go on a breakaway, that member of the team is going outside his/her role and putting the team at risk,” Cassan explained.

Cassan explained that municipal politicians are supposed to be the only non-partisan politicians and because of that there is an expectation that council and the mayor need to act transparently.  

“Councillors are not managers and are not supervisors,” said Cassan, who continued to stress the fact that a CAO is the middle man between city staff and city council.    

“Its not a business, they are a level of government.”  

Cassan noted that Bill 68 of the Municipal Act, when its passed, will require every municipality to have a Code of Conduct.  

The City of North Bay implemented one back in 2016 which can be seen HERE.