Regina council voted down motion to ‘increase transparency’

Regina city council struck down a motion that would have increased ‘transparent decision-making.’

Ward 6 Councillor Dan LeBlanc brought forward the motion that would see council commit to “more transparent decision-making.”

The motion called for all matters of executive committee meetings to be placed on the public agenda. If the administration decides certain topics should be excluded from the public, it may choose not to include those on the public agenda. The administration can also advise councillors to debate a matter in private during the public meeting.

Leblanc alleges that city administration has “regularly placed matters on a private agenda” for executive committee and that those matters have been made secret rather than open, contrary to the bylaw.

He also alleges members of council have occasionally facilitated secret meetings of executive committee through email exchanges or other forms of non-public communication.

Mayor Sandra Masters said she felt the motion was unnecessary.

“There are pieces of it which are completely redundant, I don’t just believe it meets the threshold to change a procedure bylaw, there is no evidence of abuse,” she said. “We have mechanisms well within the procedure bylaw which allow us to kick things out of a private and onto the public agenda.”

Masters said if they were constantly looking at times on the private agenda and kicking them into the public, things would be different, however that has not happened.

“What administration is putting on the private agenda, falls within the realm of negotiations, personal matters, labour issues, and policies and procedures which perhaps not completely fleshed out, but in the discussion may expose the business interests of the City of Regina to unfair pricing, unfair bidding, those types of things.”

The motion was voted down 6 to 5.

Interim City Manager Jim Nicol said “I can comfortably say I don’t believe it has been abused” when asked if council or administration has abused the private session powers.

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