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A Government of Secrecy Breeds Distrust

By Winnipeg Councillor Kevin Klein

I made commitments to Charleswood-Tuxedo-Westwood residents when I asked for the honour to represent our community. Two of my commitments were to ask the tough questions and to hold decision makers and people of power accountable, especially when spending your money.

Russell Long once said; "A government by secrecy benefits no one. It injuries the people it seeks to serve; it damages its own integrity and operation. It breeds distrust, dampens the fervor of its citizens and mocks their loyalty.

During the May 6th, 2020 City Council Meeting Councillor Klein questioned the Chair of Finance about the “hiring freeze” as a result of a job posting. Klein was advised by the Finance Chair to direct his questions to the C.A.O., which was completed on May 7th, 2020 via email. Can you please provide members of council with the following; Was the hiring freeze actually implemented? If yes, could you provide us with the email directing all departments to adhere to this freeze. When was the hiring freeze removed and was each member of Council informed and how? The position in question is for a “Livable Streets Specialist” I believe this position has no impact on the homelessness issue our community is facing and that is publicly shared as a concern for the City. I base that conclusion on the position description which appears to be a public engagement role, I admit that is only my assumption. A reply was received May 12, 2020, which has raised more concerns. Klein was told at the end of April 2020 that Directors were instructed to “embrace” the hiring freeze. They were asked to use discretion if positions were critical or essential in nature and needed to be filled. The Administration confirmed the position is critical given it’s a replacement of an existing position. Klein said, “I’m struggling to contemplate how this position is critical to the day to day operations of our City.” In a response to Klein, the Administration added that they deemed the position of Liveable Streets Specialist is critical as there is only one position. This statement was followed with an email stating there are actually two positions in the area. We are consistently told that tough decisions have to be made, however our actions don’t match our public intentions. We were elected to manage the City and to question and support the Public Service when necessary. How can we achieve efficiency and effectiveness in our City when we’re not provided with accurate information that will allow us to perform our duties as elected officials? It’s disappointed that during this unprecedented time of financial uncertainty leadership is sparse and there’s no accountability or vision for our City’s future. Residents need strong leadership and want to have confidence in elected officials. Many have enough to worry about already. We need a strong post-pandemic recovery plan today. Elected officials should maintain key services to residents and invest in priority projects to effectively re-launch our local economy. Once again, I call on the Mayor for a collaborative effort with all members of City Council to develop a strong and bold recovery plan that considers reasonable cost controls and practical investments.

If we, your elected officials, don't ask the questions and challenge the status quo how will it ever change for the better? We can't afford to keep making the same mistakes.

I came to City Hall to work with my colleagues, determined to make decisions that are in the best interest of our City, and I remain committed to goal. I also remain committed to asking the tough questions, holding decision makers accountable and defending the interests of the residents I serve in Charleswood-Tuxedo-Westwood.


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