A joint meeting between delegates of the Concerned Citizens’ Committee (Kenora) and the Fort Frances Community Action Group was held in Kenora on April 20.
Both groups discussed the lack of citizen involvement in local municipal decisions due to special interest politics, which exclude the democratic rights of community taxpayers.
Of further interest is the lack of transparency on the part of the Kenora and Fort Frances municipal councils in divulging information to its taxpayers, as required by law under the Privacy and Freedom of Information Act.
The parties discussed several issues of community interest being dealt with in Kenora and Fort Frances. One noticeable item was Bill 130.
Both councils entered into an agreement to hire a private investigator regarding citizen complaint investigations on closed door meetings, rather than utilizing the same services provided by the Ombudsman’s office.
Municipal taxpayers will pay a private investigator anywhere from $1,200-$1,600 per day. The Ombudsman has no direct financial conflict to the municipality and his service is free.
The Ombudsman has a broader mandate to work with the act on legitimate citizens’ complaints. He has subpoena powers to access individuals and information, plus an obligation to present his report—unfettered—to the person filing the complaint, and to the public.
The Ombudsman provides 100 percent transparency to the process and complaint that cannot be assured under the private investigator.
The parties also agreed to maintain open lines of communication and attempt to help each other to bring democracy back to our communities.
Efforts will be made to contact Dryden taxpayers to find common community purpose in Bill 130; hopefully encouraging these municipal councils to opt with the Ombudsman once the municipal agreements with the private investigator come to a conclusion.