The subject of criminal record checks for councillors was on the agenda again, this time at a June 4 town council meeting.
Town Administrator Sheryl Ballendine prepared an administrative memo for the town explaining a change to the municipalities act instituted after the last election in 2009.The amendment allows councils to require criminal record checks with nominations. The criminal record checks would be posted for the public along with the nomination papers. In her memo, Ballendine mentioned that having a criminal record would not disqualify anyone from becoming a councillor.
Council at first seemed unsure of how to proceed, of the spirit of the idea while being unsure of the specifics. Councillors mentioned that the criminal record check itself might take months and even then would not give specifics on offences committed. As the deadline for nominations is currently in September, this would not give the RCMP sufficient time.
Battleford Mayor Chris Odishaw proposed a novel solution to the problem, arguing that simply asking prospective councillors if they had a criminal record might work, provided council passed a bylaw disqualifying anyone who lied about their criminal record on their nomination form from holding office. Councillors who said they didn’t have a criminal record could have their criminal record checked after they were elected and would be thrown out of office if it was revealed they had lied. Those with a criminal record would not require a check.
Council was not entirely convinced though, as this approach would require another bylaw and would still not provide specifics as to the crimes committed. They decided to table the idea for later without making any firm decisions.
At the meeting, council also officially set the date of the next election and the advance poll. The municipal election will take place Oct. 24, with an advance poll taking place Oct. 17 from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Alex Dillabough Centre. Anyone who has a disability or limited mobility, has been appointed as an election official or anticipates being unable to vote on election day can vote in the advance poll. The town anticipates approximately 30 people will do so.