Last week at City Hall councillors and media were invited to a technical briefing on the City of Ottawa’s action plan to respond to the recommendations from the public inquiry into Stage 1 of Ottawa’s LRT system. As part of this briefing, councillors were invited to ask questions about the action plan. While I remain concerned about our LRT’s reliability after repeated technical failures, I am just as concerned about the lack of transparency at City Hall that led to the approval of such a flawed system, as well as the seeming lack of accountability for these failures.
In addressing this concern, the City Clerk Rick O’Connor promised that new rules and procedures would soon be put in place to help improve transparency at City Hall. During his presentation at this briefing, the City Clerk quoted a line Commissioner William Hourigan’s Report in the LRT Public Inquiry:
“The public must be able to trust that the government is making decisions based on complete, accurate and timely information. Anything less risks undermining the public trust.”
With that in mind, I brought a question to the City Clerk and the rest of staff, which you can watch here. Briefly, my question suggested that transparency and openness are central to accountability. But accountability only has currency when failures lead to consequences. There were rules and principles in place to prevent this lack of transparency before. Neither these rules nor these principles were respected, and seemingly without sanction or consequence to anyone. Whether through a reinforcement of the current rules, or the addition of new rules, could we expect greater transparency and accountability moving forward?
The answer I was given was “yes”.
One of my campaign promises was to fight for greater accountability and transparency at City Hall, and to ensure that Council’s oversight role is properly respected. Residents can count on me to keep a watchful eye on how these principles are upheld.