Councillor calls for more transparency on closed council meetings

Calgary City Hall by Michael J on Flickr

In order to draw more attention to council’s in-camera sessions, rookie Coun. Jeromy Farkas has routinely called for a recorded vote each time councillors are asked to discuss a matter in private — a move applauded by his former colleagues at the Manning Foundation.

“I think it annoys some of the other councillors, but (Farkas) had a really clear reason for doing it,” said Peter McCaffrey, president of the Alberta Institute and a former author of the Manning Foundation’s “Council Tracker” report. By calling for the votes, McCaffrey said, Farkas ensures that in-camera sessions are clearly identified in council meeting minutes.

“For years we’ve heard from councillors on all sides of the political spectrum saying that they’re concerned, not just about the amount of time, but about the excuses given or the reasoning given for why a particular thing needs to be in camera,” McCaffrey said.

“When you have (councillors) Sean Chu and Druh Farrell both saying, ‘Hey look, some of the things we discussed in camera shouldn’t have been secret and we don’t really know why administration’s lawyer deemed that had to be in camera’ — that’s when you start to think there might be some particular problem here.”

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