During its meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2023, Kingston City Council received a report from the City’s Integrity Commissioner, which found that Pittsburgh District Councillor Ryan Boehme did not violate the Member Code of Conduct or the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act (MCIA) during his participation in 2023 budget deliberations for Kingston Fire & Rescue (KFR) and his subsequent candidacy as a potential KFR recruit.
As Kingstonist previously reported, the investigation was ordered after councillors — including Boehme himself — voted unanimously on Tuesday, Jun. 6, 2023, to launch an investigation into Boehme’s actions at a Wednesday, Mar. 1, 2023 council meeting. At that March meeting, the veteran councillor had spoken to and voted in favour of an amendment to the City’s budget which included funding for KFR to hire 12 new firefighters in 2023; then afterward it came to light that Boehme, a longtime volunteer firefighter with KFR, had applied for one of the new positions, which prompted Council to request the investigation.
In a report published by Integrity Commissioner Laura Dean — a municipal and land use planning lawyer with Toronto’s Aird and Berlis LLP — the commissioner ruled that Boehme’s actions did not contravene the Member Code of Conduct or the MCIA.
During Tuesday’s meeting, members of Council had the opportunity to speak to the commissioner’s report and its subsequent vindication of Boehme’s actions. Mayor Bryan Paterson said, “One of the things you deal with in this role is a heightened sense of scrutiny on your actions… We all know that questions were raised about some of Councillor Boehme’s actions. I just want to give him credit [for] the way that he handled the situation, that he… was agreeable to ask for an investigation, and that investigation cleared him of any wrongdoing.”
Paterson, who was the only member of Council to speak to the report, added, “I think it’s time to clear the air, turn the page, and move on.”
Councillors voted unanimously to accept the commissioner’s report and its findings.
In the report, the commissioner ruled that Boehme’s actions did not constitute a conflict of interest in accordance with the MCIA because the councillor did not have a “pecuniary interest” in the KFR recruitment process. “The MCIA does not define ‘pecuniary interest’ [;] however, the case law establishes that a pecuniary interest under the MCIA is restricted to a financial, monetary or economic interest,” wrote the commissioner, noting there must be a “traceable financial or economic impact.”
As for the Member Code of Conduct, the commissioner ruled that Boehme’s actions during the March meeting came from an “honestly held belief that he was advancing the public interest.”
While Boehme’s application to KFR generated significant public interest, the commissioner’s report noted that the councillor did not ultimately secure one of the 12 new positions with the department.