The Toronto Computer Leasing Inquiry and Toronto External Contracts Inquiry, headed by Madame Justice Bellamy, released its report on September 12. The report, which is reported to be 1,123 pages in four volumes, is available for download here . Download speeds are very slow from the Commission website - alternatively, you can download the Executive Summary from the Toronto Star website here . The 469 page volume "Facts and Findings" can also be downloaded from The Star . Commissioner Bellamy's final remarks (which are a quicker download) are available here . A warning the Facts and Findings report is 470 pages long, and is a compelling read, which makes it hard to put down!!
The Computer Leasing Inquiry (better known as the MFP Inquiry) was established under s. 100 of the Municipal Act, and its terms of reference were to inquire into the history and impact of computer equipment leases entered into with MFP Financial Services Ltd. The Inquiry was to examine the transactions as they relate to the good goverment of Toronto and the conduct of its public business.
The External Contracts Inquiry arose during the course of the investigations in the Computer Leasing Inquiry, and was given terms of reference that included examining the retaining of consultants to assist in the creation of a tax system in the former City of North York, and specifically into the selection of Ball HSU& Associates Inc. to provide consulting services to the City of Toronto.
Key recommendations of the MFP inquiry include
a full time integrity commissioner should be hired, with the power to investigate complaints, including anonymous complaints from the public;the City should expand its current code of conduct to beyond minimum standards, and set the highest ideals and values that all public servants should work toward;the City's hiring should include questions to establish applicant's ethics;recently departed City staff should not hold themselves out as having access to information and decisions makers, and former councillors and staff should not work on files they had been involved with at the City;Councillors and staff should not be permitted to accept any gifts or benefits of any value from lobbyists, and gift registry should be established;lobbying should be treated as a potentially helpful practice to be carefully controlled. Specific controls on lobbying are recommended;specific procurement practices are proposed.
The Report also contains scathing conclusions on the conduct of a number of key players, including Tom Jakobek and Dash Domi, which is (frankly) part of what makes the report such a compelling read. However, the importance of the report from a legal perspective is the clear message to all municipal governments (and all public bodies) as to the high standard of conduct that must be met.
There are a series of recommendations on the means by which outside services should be retained, and the ethical conduct expected of those who deal with municipalities. Any consultant who has contracts with municipalities should take the time to read them!