Joanne Chianello, Ottawa Citizen
While there was lots to like about the first council meeting of the term held Wednesday, not every decision made by council was laudable. In particular, the decision to raise the disclosure threshold from $30 to $100 was misguided, to put it kindly.
When council adopted the gift registry in May 2013, councillors at the time voted to make the disclosure limit quite low — $30, one of the lowest in the country. What that means is that councillors could accept anything valued at $30 or lower without worrying about disclosing it. In the words of Coun. David Chernushenko, the $30 threshold covered "a coffee, a sandwich, a ball cap."
Councillors were still able to accept gifts worth more than $30, but they'd just have to disclose them on the city's online gift registry. At the time, the city's Integrity Commissioner appeared thrilled about the $30 level. (Councillors have to register gifts of event tickets as well, but that falls under a different part of the policy. And at no time are councillors allowed to accept gifts of any value from anyone with an active file on the lobby registry.)