Powers of investigation and intervention

CM-2006-802

BUREAU DE L’OMBUDSMANCONSTITUTION, SCOPE AND OPERATIONS

WHEREAS the Ville de Gatineau seeks to be attentive to its population;

WHEREAS it seeks to provide its citizens with a new independent mechanism to review the implementation of some of its administrative procedures and processes;

WHEREAS the creation of an Bureau de l’ombudsman will fulfill these objectives, and furthermore provide its citizens with a local and more efficient service;

WHEREAS the Ville de Gatineau seeks to promote a collegial Bureau de l’ombudsman to allow those citizens who are drawn to this mandate, a better assessment of the files;

WHEREAS the powers granted to the Ville de Gatineau by the Municipal Powers Act (L.R.Q., c. C-47.1) and the Cities and Towns Act (L.R.Q., c. C-19):

IT IS PROPOSED AND UNANIMOUSLY RESOLVED

THAT in response to the recommendation CE-2006-1291 of the Executive Committee dated September 19th, 2006, the Council agreed to create the Bureau de l’ombudsman and to establish its rules as follows:

Definitions

  1. Unless the context specifies otherwise, the words and expressions mean the following, without limitation:
    1. Associate: a person associated with others in financial, commercial or common professional interests.
    2. Council: the Municipal Council of the Ville de Gatineau.
    3. Interest of close relations: Interest from the spouse of the person concerned, from his/her children, from people in his/her ascending line or interest from a public corporation, a company, a coop or association with whom he/she has any business relations. It may be of direct or indirect interest, financial or not, real, apparent or a potential interest. It is distinct, without necessarily being exclusive of that of the public in general, or may be perceived as such by a reasonably informed person.
    4. Personal interest: Interest shown by the person concerned, be it a direct or indirect interest, financial or not, real, apparent or a potential interest. It is distinct, without necessarily being exclusive of that of the public in general, or may be perceived as such by a reasonably informed person.
    5. Delegate organisation: An organization that the law declares as being an authorized or a delegated municipal agent of the Ville de Gatineau whose Council consists in majority of Council members of the Ville de Gatineau and whose budget is adopted by the Council.
    6. City: Ville de Gatineau.

Bureau de l’ombudsman

  1. The Bureau de l’ombudsman reports to Council.
  2. The Bureau de l’ombudsman is composed of a maximum of 12 members.
  3. The commissioners are appointed by resolution, by members of the Council. A president is designated from among the commissioners.
  4. The commissioners designate among themselves a vice-president.
  5. The duration of the mandate for half of the members and of the president is three (3) years. The duration of the mandate of the other members is two (2) years. The nomination resolution stipulates the duration of the mandate of each commissioner.
  6. A commissioner’s mandate can only be renewed once (1).
  7. Despite article 6, a commissioner whose mandate has expired, continues to assume his or her duties until his or her mandate is renewed or until a new commissioner is appointed.
  8. All Bureau member resignations must be sent to Council in writing.
  9. The Council may terminate the mandate of a commissioner by resolution passed by a vote of two-thirds of the members present.
  10. The following persons cannot be appointed to the role of commissioner :
    • A member of the Council or an employee of the Ville de Gatineau;
    • An associate of a member of the Council or an employee of the Ville de Gatineau;
    • a person who, himself or through an associate, has a direct or an indirect interest in a contract with the Ville de Gatineau or a paramunicipal organisation;
    • a person who is in a situation that can potentially, or apparently, put into conflict personal interest, or the interest of close relations, with the mandated duties of a commissioner.

Secretariat of the Bureau de l’ombudsman

  1. The Bureau de l’ombudsman is supported in its operations by a general secretariat, headed by the Secretary General appointed by the Council;
  2. The Secretary General, under the authority of the president of the Bureau de l’ombudsman, undertakes the operations relating to intervention and investigation processes and procedures. He contributes to the drafting and tracking of the Bureau de l’ombudsman’s recommendations. He is also responsible for the intake process and the eligibility of the requests to the Bureau de l’ombudsman.
  3. The Council supports the proper functioning of Bureau de l’ombudsman with an annual operational budget fund allocated from the Ville de Gatineau’s budget.

Remuneration and reimbursement of expenses

  1. The commissioners do not receive remuneration for exercising their function
  2. Despite section 15, an annual allocation of 500$ for expenses is given to each commissioner.

Purview of the Bureau de l’ombudsman

  1. The Bureau de l’ombudsman intervenes or investigates whenever there is reasonable cause to believe that a person or group of persons has suffered or may very likely suffer prejudice as the result of an act or omission of the Ville de Gatineau. He shall intervene on his own initiative or at the request of any person. He may investigate on matters relating to decisions, recommendations, acts or omissions of the Ville de Gatineau. He may also investigate on any matter involving an act or omission on the on the part of a person carrying out work on the Ville de Gatineau’s behalf. He also intervenes at the request of the mayor, the Executive Committee or the Council.
  2. For the purposes of section 17, is a reasonable cause to believe that a person or a group of persons has suffered or may very likely suffer prejudice, one of the following claims:
    • the Ville de Gatineau or his representative acted in an unreasonable, unjust, arbitrary or discretionary manner;
    • the Ville de Gatineau or its representative has failed in its duty or has shown evidence of misconduct or negligence;
    • in the exercise of discretionary power, the Ville de Gatineau or its representative, has acted for an unjust purpose, has been actuated by irrelevant motives or has failed to give reasons for its or his discretionary act when it or he should have done so.
  3. The Bureau de l’ombudsman may not investigate any decision:
    • of the Council, the Executive Committee, a committee or a municipal committee;
    • of any person as part of work relations with the person or group whose interests are affected by the intervention;
    • of a peace officer;
    • of a mandated organisation or a paramunicipal organisation.
  4. The Bureau de l’ombudsman may not investigate a private dispute between citizens or a decision made by a tribunal or an organization carrying out judicial, quasi-judicial, or jurisdictional duties.
  5. The Bureau de l’ombudsman may refuse to intervene or investigate. He may also interrupt an intervention or an investigation when he believes that the complaint is frivolous, vexatious or is not made in good faith, or that legal recourse is likely to correct the injurious situation. When he decides not to intervene, investigate, or interrupt an intervention or an investigation, the Bureau de l’ombudsman must inform the complainant of his decision in writing. It must be a reasoned decision.
  6. The ombudsman may not intervene or investigate when more than a year has elapsed since the person or the group whose interests affected by the intervention or investigation has learned of the facts on which it is based and without having completed all the administrative procedures available, unless the person or the group establish, to the ombudsman’s satisfaction, exceptional circumstances that justify the delay.
  7. When he decides to intervene or investigate, the Bureau de l’ombudsman must inform the Ville de Gatineau’s Director General. He must invite the author of the act or the omission, or the person acting on the Ville de Gatineau’s behalf to be heard and allow him, as he sees fit, to correct the situation. All interventions of the ombudsman are conducted in private.
  8. The Bureau de l’ombudsman may also invite any person likely to shed light on the investigation and take any other appropriate means to obtain necessary or useful information for the investigation or intervention.
  9. The Bureau de l’ombudsman cannot intervene or investigate a citizen’s complaint until the latter does not show, to his satisfaction, that he has exhausted the normal administrative and judicial avenues to remedy the situation.
  10. Every person requiring the intervention of Bureau de l’ombudsman must :
    • state his family name, first name, address, telephone number, and those, when known, of every person covered by the request;
    • describe a satisfactory solution;
    • provide the Bureau de l’ombudsman with any other information or document he may require to process the request.
  11. At the time of an intervention or an investigation, a member of the Bureau de l’ombudsman or the staff of the Secretariat assigned to the processing of the request or complaint, is entitled to learn the facts and make copies of all files and registers and any other relevant document. He has the right to require the information, reports and explanations that he deems necessary to carry out his duties.
  12. At the end of an intervention or investigation, the Bureau de l’ombudsman must submit a written report of his findings to the complainant. He must equally report to the Ville de Gatineau’s Director General.
  13. After an intervention or an investigation, the Bureau de l’ombudsman may recommend any measure he sees fit.
  14. When making a recommendation, the Bureau de l’ombudsman may require the Director General to submit a report, within a given period, on the follow-up measures taken or intended to be taken. When no favorable response is received within that period, the Bureau de l’ombudsman may report, as the case may be, to the Council or the Executive Committee. He may also outline the case in a special report or in his annual report.
  15. When considered in the public interest, the Bureau de l’ombudsman may publicly comment on a report he has submitted.

Panel of commissioners

  1. The President of the Bureau de l’ombudsman delegates to a panel composed of three commissioners the responsibility to intervene or investigate.

The President shall, in forming the panel, look for the most appropriate level of expertise to the nature of the complaint.

A commissioner invited to be a member of a panel during an intervention or an investigation shall, if he has direct or indirect vested interest as defined in the first paragraph of Section 361 of the Act respecting elections and referendums in municipalities, disclose to the President of the Bureau de l’ombudsman the general nature of that interest and refuse to be part of the panel. The commissioner must also refrain from interfering in any way in the intervention or investigation. This applies equally to any personal interest or to relatives such as is defined in this resolution.

The panel of commissioners should make a recommendation that meets the approval of the majority.

  1. The panel of commissioners’ recommendation must be submitted to the President of the Bureau de l’ombudsman who must ensure appropriate follow-up with the individuals or organisations involved.

General provisions

  1. A public servant or a person acting on behalf of the Ville de Gatineau is required to collaborate with investigations and interventions of the Bureau de l’ombudsman.
  2. The commissioners and the Secretariat staff must keep the information they are given in the performance of their duties strictly confidential.
  3. The Ville de Gatineau grants commissioners protection against certain financial losses related to the exercise of their duties, as provided in section XIII.I of the Cities and Towns Act, thus adapting them.
  4. Each year, the President of the Bureau de l’ombudsman presents the Council, no later than December 1st, a report on the performance of its duties. The President may also, at any time, report on situations he believes are of interest to the Council. These reports are made public after their submission to the Council.
  5. The Bureau de l’ombudsman may adopt rules of operation and governance.

Adopted

I, the undersigned, Suzanne Ouellet, Clerk of the Ville de Gatineau, hereby certify that the above excerpt is compliant.
City clerk,
Me Suzanne Ouellet