Councillor wants mandatory leave for civic politicians facing criminal charges
By The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG – A Winnipeg city councillor is calling for tougher rules for municipal politicians who get in trouble with the law.
Cindy Gilroy wants the province to change the city’s charter to make it mandatory for councillors who have been charged with a criminal offence to take a paid leave of absence.
Her proposal comes a week after her colleague Russ Wyatt was arrested and charged with sexual assault.
Wyatt was excused from Thursday’s last council meeting before the summer break due to a doctor’s appointment.
He wasn’t available for comment, but told The Canadian Press in an email last week that he’s innocent and will defend himself in court.
Under the current city charter, councillors are only removed from office for criminal offences after a conviction.
Gilroy wants it amended so that it would be mandatory for an elected member of council who’s been charged with a criminal offence to take a paid leave of absence.
“Somebody is innocent until they’re proven guilty and that’s a fact, but we also need to remember that there’s many people that have to work in that environment,” said Gilroy. ” think this is looking at a policy that we lack and trying to make sure that moving forward we have a better way of doing this.”
Mayor Brian Bowman said he supports the idea, but noted they would need to consider who would represent constituents if an elected official was off the job during lengthy court proceedings.
The province said in a statement that it’s open to discussions with the city on the proposed changes if they decide to go ahead with the proposal.