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Updated: 21st November 2018 11:32

Calgary's 1st independent ethics adviser to resign

Calgary's ethics adviser Alice Woolley is resigning after just over two years on the job.

Alice Woolley said it was 'an honour' to work with city council

Calgary's ethics adviser Alice Woolley is stepping down. (CBC)

The ethics adviser to Calgary's city council is resigning.

Alice Woolley was appointed as an independent ethics adviser in 2016 along with an integrity commissioner. The appointments were firsts for a city in Western Canada.

From 2014-2016, Woolley was also the associate dean (academic) with the Faculty of Law at the University of Calgary and right now she teaches there four days a week.

She said she gave notice on Oct. 31 with a proposed end date of Jan. 31, 2019.

"The reason is my work at the university prevents me from spending time at city hall and it would be helpful for them having someone who could be down there a little more," said Woolley.

She was hired to guide council on policy questions or ethical situations.

Woolley said the bulk of her time was spent on writing policies and bylaws for the integrity and ethics office, with councillors occasionally dropping by her office for quick, confidential chats.

"I think having an independent voice to bounce things off of is important for most people," she said.

"We ask a lot of our councillors, to balance a lot of demands and responsibilities, and sometimes having someone to help you figure out how to do that is a good thing."

She said it would be good if her replacement could be in the office for a few hours a week on council days during the lunch break to answer councillors' questions as needed.

Woolley said she's enjoyed her time in the role.

"I think city government is incredibly important, the people who do it generally care a lot of issues important to Calgarians," she said. "It's been really, to me, frankly an honour to be part of it the last couple years."

In a first for a city in Western Canada, Calgary has hired an independent ethics commissioner, in addition to an ethics adviser, to help​ guide and investigate city councillors' actions and decision making. 7:13

Woolley previously served as a law clerk to Chief Justice Antonio Lamer of the Supreme Court of Canada and has practised at several large Calgary law firms.

She has also written numerous books, articles and commentaries, and has been a frequent presenter on ethics and other topics.

She serves as president of the Canadian Association of Legal Ethics and, in 2015, was named one of Canada's top 25 most influential lawyers by by Canadian Lawyer magazine.

The position paid a $2,000 retainer and $200 per hour for services as required, plus reimbursements for expenses like parking fees.

Council has voted to set up a search committee to fill the part-time position.

With files from Scott Dippel

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story said Alice Woolley is also the associate dean (academic) with the Faculty of Law at the University of Calgary. In fact, she held that position from 2014-2016.

    Nov 07, 2018 8:08 AM MT

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