May 30, 2017 1:25 am
Updated: May 30, 2017 6:23 am

Lester B. Pearson School Board adopts new code of ethics

WATCH ABOVE: The Lester B. Pearson School Board brought forward a new code of ethics on Monday night. Global’s Howard Cohen reports.

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MONTREAL – The Lester B. Pearson School Board’s Council of Commissioners  unanimously adopted a new code of ethics on Monday night.

The new code was drafted from scratch, interim chair Noel Burke told Global News.

“We realized that there were some weaknesses in the previous policy,” he explained.

One key change makes it more difficult for commissioners to access public funds to pay their own legal fees.

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If a commissioner is ever accused of a breach of ethics, the board will offer to provide a lawyer to represent them. If the accused elects to be represented by private counsel, then the accused must incur all legal fees beyond those deemed reasonable by the board.

The new ethics code was passed just over a month after Suanne Stein Day announced she would be taking a personal leave of absence from her role as Chair.

Stein Day’s defence before the ethics commission allegedly cost the board over $80,000.

READ MORE: Calls for transparency at the Lester B. Pearson School Board

The new code also makes it possible to apply to a judge to have a commissioner removed.

Chris Eustace, a former teacher, said the new policy doesn’t go far enough.

Advocating for a stricter code of ethics at Monday night’s board meeting, he told Global News that “if a commissioner is found guilty of breaching the ethics rules, they should have to pay at least half, if not all, their legal fees.”

The new policy “does nothing for democracy, nothing for accountability and nothing for ethics,” he said.

Tensions were high between Eustace and Burke at the board meeting.

Despite the heated debate over the ethics policy, the two ended the night with a handshake.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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