MPA Major Research Papers

Date of Award


Degree Type

Major Research Paper

Degree Name

Master of Public Administration


Political Science


Spicer, Zac

Geographical Areas

Bluewater, Brampton, Brant, Caledon, Cambridge, Carleton Place, Central Elgin, Dryden, Essex, Georgian Bay, Guelph, Hamilton, Ignace, Innisfil, Kingston, London, Madawaska Valley, Manitouwadge, Markham, Middlesex Centre, Milton, Mississauga, Niagara, Orangeville, Peel, Port Hope, Ramara, Renfrew, Richmond Hill, Sarnia, Scugog, Seguin, Sioux Lookout, South Huron, Southgate, St. Catharines, St. Thomas, The Blue Mountains, Toronto, Vaughan, Wasaga Beach, Welland, West Nipissing, Whitchurch-Stouffville, Windsor


This exploratory research paper looks at the current political accountability framework at the municipal level in Ontario, which consists of a mandatory requirement for council code of conduct and access to an integrity commissioner. The literature review defines political accountability, both generally and within the Ontario municipal context, and outlines the historical beginnings, role and challenges with council codes of conduct and integrity commissioners. To answer the research question, “Does hiring an integrity commissioner improve political accountability at the municipal level in Ontario?” a detailed analysis of municipal council decision related to integrity commissioner investigations and recommendations, as well as comparing 2014 and 2018 municipal election results for elected officials who have been investigated for code of conduct violations, is conducted. From this data, an assessment of the overall effectiveness of the municipal accountability framework in influencing the two primary actors in holding municipally elected officials politically accountable, municipal councils and the voting public, is completed. Ultimately, this paper contends that while municipal councils are generally holding their municipal colleagues to account for their actions, code of conduct violations appear to have little bearing on election results. While more research is necessary, the paper suggests that greater consideration is needed for increasing sanctions available to integrity commissioners and their councils.