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Integrity - use of values or principles to guide action in the situation at hand.

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Transparency bill a 'nightmare,' Dunlop says, 13.11.04

SIMCOE.COM - online newspaper serving Barrie, Alliston, Collingwood/Wasaga Beach, Midland and Orillia, Ontario

A bill that would lift the veil of secrecy on closed-door council meetings and other matters of public interest is enjoying enormous support at Queen's Park from all but a handful of MPPs.

Garfield Dunlop is one of them.

'It is just a nightmare,' was the Simcoe North MPP's blunt assessment of the legislation, which recently passed second reading. 'They are basically saying everybody that sits on these small, rural-type boards need to be under the watch of the government more. I am completely against that.'

Late last month, a resounding majority of MPPs approved, in principle, the Transparency in Public Matters Act, with 53 members voting in favour of the change.

If passed, the bill would ensure meetings of designated public bodies, including municipal councils and school boards, are open to the public.

'It's an incentive to ensure that the public interest in maintained at all times,' said Sarnia-Lambton MPP Caroline Di Cocco, sponsor of the private member's bill.

Under the act, residents who believe a council or other group has violated open-meeting rules, or is about to do so, could complain in writing to the province's privacy commissioner.

Those found guilty of contravening the act would face fines of up to $2,500.

In addition, any public business conducted behind closed doors inappropriately could be declared null and void, she said.

Dunlop, one of only three MPPs to vote against the bill, labelled it bureaucratic, and warned it would tangle community-run boards in yet another layer of red tape, potentially driving away the valuable volunteers who serve on them.


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"We shall need compromises in the days ahead, to be sure. But these will be, or should be, compromises of issues, not principles. We can compromise our political positions, but not ourselves. We can resolve the clash of interests without conceding our ideals. And even the necessity for the right kind of compromise does not eliminate the need for those idealists and reformers who keep our compromises moving ahead, who prevent all political situations from meeting the description supplied by Shaw: "smirched with compromise, rotted with opportunism, mildewed by expedience, stretched out of shape with wirepulling and putrefied with permeation.
Compromise need not mean cowardice. .."

John Fitzgerald Kennedy, "Profiles in Courage"


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