Municipal politics: why
have Integrity Commissioners?

di Joe Volpe del 22 August 2022

TORONTO - Brampton continues to be the epicentre of political turmoil. Just when one thinks some issues have been laid to rest, a related one surfaces. On the eve of final registration for candidacy in the 2022 election, the “eligibility” for office issue has raised its head again.

Once again, two “figures” are central to the issue: (1) the mayor, (2) an “integrity commissioner”. To be more precise, they are the issue. First, Mayor Patrick Brown’s ill-fated run for the leadership of Conservative Party of Canada prompted Party investigations into the inner workings of his campaign. Those findings led to his disqualification - a decision he is contesting in law.

City Council, for better or for worse, conducted a “palace revolt” after a “whistle-blower”, now revealed as Nikki Kaur, a former member of the city bureaucracy (and CPC candidate in the last federal election), evidently provided some “incriminating evidence” of misuse/abuse of office to a media outlet. Ultimately, this led to the CPC’s decision. Council fired the Integrity Commissioner of record in the process. It appears she may have been too close to the mayor to be objective in her decisions pertaining to him.

Second, Brown caused the hiring of a new one. Former councillor Elaine Moore lodged a complaint regarding Mayor Brown’s eligibility. On August 18, the new Integrity Commissioner (Principles Integrity - PI) issued a disposition, which, in a letter sent to media, Brown said “I am vindicated now that the Integrity Commissioner has ruled that I did nothing wrong”

Unfortunately for him, PI was fresh from a disastrous experience at the Toronto Catholic school board, where trustees questioned his methods and his own legitimacy. Also, full disclosure, as in the Brampton “investigation”, he seemed to concentrate on his unfounded ability to critique press and media (Corriere Canadese and Rebel Media without engaging them in the process) rather than ‘ferret out’ the facts.

Unsurprisingly, PI felt that what may have been evidence enough for the CPC was insufficient for him/them; [ …] “Accordingly, we found there to be no reasonable grounds to believe that a contravention of ‘another Act’ (Canada Elections Act) occurred. Nor did we obtain evidence […] There is similarly no evidence which we have seen to indicate that the Mayor compelled any employee to work on the leadership campaign. The evidence obtainable by us, is that in 2019 staff were made aware of the obligation to only work on campaigns during personal (unpaid) time.” (emphasis added)

But this is 2022 and the staff are not the ones being investigated. Nikki Kaur is now a candidate for the mayoralty.

Another candidate, former MP Ramesh Sangha, published his own letter effectively dismissing PI’s disposition and demanding that the City Clerk rule on the matter. He finds it inconceivable that the facta at the base of Brown’s disqualification from the leadership of the CPC would pass the smell taste for legitimacy at Council.

His call for action does not mince words, “|I am making objections against Patrick Brown's mayoral campaign and ask the City Clerk to take immediate action for Patrick Brown's violation of the mayoral election rules, regulations and bylaws.”

He adds, “Mr. Brown unethically used the same federal conservative campaign infrastructure, and entered the race for the mayoral campaign. He will now proceed to illegally misuse the resources of the leadership campaign, that were already set up from the federal leadership race, towards the mayoral election.”

“There are numerous wrongdoings and questionable activities happening at City Hall which comes under the purview of the City Clerk and Senior Leadership, as per Section 6 of the Corporate Resources Policy of City of Brampton (included in the candidate package), and ought to take notice of under Section 7 and 7.1, Monitoring and Compliance under the Use of Corporate Resource Policy (January 26, 2022) in which the City Clerk shall have the authority to investigate and resolve the complaints.” No mention of the Integrity Commissioner.
“Considering the serious violations and breaches, unethical, undemocratic, and unconstitutional behavior, Mr. Brown should be disqualified as a mayoral candidate by and not be allowed to continue to participate in the mayoral campaign.” (emphasis added) At registration deadline, Mr. Sangha withdrew his candidacy but insists his letter is still valid.

“The entire investigation [Principles Integrity’s] was a waste of taxpayer money", said Mayor Patrick Brown. So it would appear.


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