Jul. 22, 2004. 01:00 AM

Toronto appoints integrity overseer




Toronto has become the first Canadian city to appoint an integrity commissioner to help keep city councillors on the straight and narrow.

David Mullan, 58, a retired Queen's University law professor, begins the $90,000-a-year part-time job Sept. 1.

In last November's municipal election, the main candidates for mayor pledged to set up some form of integrity office, with the eventual winner, Mayor David Miller, using a broom to signify that city hall needed a thorough sweeping-out.

Miller argued that major decisions were being made away from the public eye, including a computer-leasing deal that led to a public inquiry revealing perks were being doled out to politicians and bureaucrats.

"It's very important to have an impartial person to deal with issues of integrity and accountability, and he'll report directly to council, not to the mayor," Miller said yesterday, after council confirmed Mullan's appointment.

In a phone interview from his Kingston home, Mullan said he will field complaints about the conduct of councillors lodged by other councillors, city staff and members of the public.

Mullan said he won't be able to handle allegations of criminal conduct or election fundraising irregularities, but he will look into alleged conflict of interest in the awarding of city contracts, for example.

Mullan said he will split his time between Kingston and Toronto. How much time the job takes will depend in part on the number of complaints he gets.