How the integrity commissioner tried — and failed — to interview Rick Chiarelli

Robert Marleau’s report to council about the behaviour of College ward Coun. Rick Chiarelli includes a timeline of how his 10-month long investigation unfolded. It details the many times Marleau tried — and failed — to get Chiarelli to attend an interview. 

Robert Marleau couldn't get councillor to participate in misconduct investigation

Friday's report by Ottawa's integrity commissioner goes into great detail about his efforts to interview Coun. Rick Chiarelli, seen here in late 2019, about multiple allegations of improper behaviour. (Giacomo Panico/CBC)

Integrity commissioner Robert Marleau's report to Ottawa city council about the behaviour of College ward Coun. Rick Chiarelli includes a timeline of how his 10-month long investigation unfolded.

On Friday, Marleau released a damning report on Chiarelli's behaviour toward three job applicants, recommending that council mete out the most severe sanction permissible: the suspension of nine months' salary, or more than $79,000.

Chiarelli did not participate in the investigation, a fact the report concedes might be considered "unsatisfactory and unjust" by some of the participants, although the situation is not without precedent.

And it's not as if Marleau can be faulted for lack of effort to interview Chiarelli, at least according to the integrity commissioner's own report. A fair chunk of its 76 pages details the many times Marleau tried — and failed — to get Chiarelli to attend an interview. 

Here's the sequence of events that led Marleau to release his report on Friday.

September 2019

Sept. 6:  A job candidate files the first complaint against Chiarelli with the integrity commissioner.

Sept. 12: CBC publishes its first story about the woman's complaint. She alleges Chiarelli asked her inappropriate questions of a sexual nature during a job interview, including whether she was comfortable not wearing a bra to work events.

Sept. 17: Marleau contacts Chiarelli and asks him to provide a written response to the first complaint. Similar requests are later sent for future complaints. 

Sept. 24: Bruce Sevigny, Chiarelli's lawyer, writes to Marleau, questioning his "authority and/or jurisdiction to move forward with an investigation."

Sept. 26: CBC publishes its second story, which includes accusations by six more women. In total, 13 women talk to CBC and corroborate accounts of the councillor's behaviour.


Oct. 3: Marleau writes back to Chiarelli, stating the investigation falls "squarely within" his jurisdiction and would go ahead. The same day, Chiarelli issues a public statement denying he treated any employees or job applicants in a "sexually harassing, discriminatory, or inappropriate 'gender-based' fashion."

Oct. 8: Two more complaints against Chiarelli are formally filed with the integrity commissioner's office.

Oct. 10: Chiarelli's lawyer sends another letter to Marleau, indicating that the councillor "will not be responding substantively" to any complaint that is filed with the office until the Ontario Divisional Court has ruled on the issue of jurisdiction.

Oct. 18: Marleau responds, explaining his jurisdiction under the city's code of conduct, and asks Chiarelli to confirm his willingness to participate. He says the fact-finding process will proceed with or without him, but receives no reply to his letter.

December to February

Dec. 10: Chiarelli is invited to be interviewed under oath by the integrity commissioner.

Dec. 13: Chiarelli is admitted to the Ottawa Heart Institute for open heart surgery. His lawyer writes to Marleau to say he is not in a position to consider participating until he has recovered.

Feb. 11, 2020: Chiarelli's lawyer formally requests the investigation be terminated on the basis of bias. He indicates Chiarelli intends to challenge Marleau's jurisdiction to investigate. 

Feb. 26: Chiarelli attends his first council meeting since his heart surgery. 

Feb. 28: Marleau seeks confirmation that Chiarelli would voluntarily participate in an interview. He tells Chiarelli's lawyer that he will issue a summons under the Public Inquiries Act. 

March through May

March 4-16: A process server hired by Marleau tries four times to serve Chiarelli with a summons. No one answers the door at the Chiarelli home, and the process server leaves the summons there.

March 20: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Chiarelli's interview with Marleau is postponed. It is eventually rescheduled for May 6.

March 22: Chiarelli posts a video with an update on his health.

During integrity commission investigation, Coun. Rick Chiarelli posts video update on health and COVID-19 

3 years ago
Duration 1:45
In this video, posted on March 22, Chiarelli provided an update on his own health and COVID-19 in College Ward.  

April 14: Marleau sends Chiarelli a letter indicating the interview will take place via teleconference.

April 17: Chiarelli's lawyer writes back to say the councillor had another medical emergency on April 14 and will remain off work until June 29. He also states the councillor was not properly served with a summons.

April 24: Marleau cancels the May 6 interview and informs Chiarelli no further attempts will be made to schedule one. In his report, he writes that he decided not to apply to a court to have Chiarelli held in contempt because it would be a "further City expense."

May 12: Chiarelli's lawyer writes back, saying his client had provided confirmation of his intention to participate. "I disagree," Marleau says in his report, and gives Chiarelli until the end of the day on May 15 to confirm "a firm and unequivocal commitment."

May 15: The day comes and goes with Marleau receiving no reply from Chiarelli.

Integrity Commissioner Robert Marleau, left, eventually published his damning report on Chiarelli's behaviour toward three applicants after failing repeated to get the councillor to participate in the investigation. (Joanne Chianello/CBC)

June and July

June 10: Chiarelli attends a virtual city council meeting, his first since April 8. 

June 25: Marleau sends Chiarelli's lawyer a draft of his final report and invites the councillor to respond by July 3.

July 3: Marleau receives no reply, according to his report.

July 6: Chiarelli's lawyer emails the city solicitor to inform him the councillor has decided to launch a judicial review against the City of Ottawa and its integrity commissioner. Nothing has been filed in court yet.

July 9: Marleau submits his final report to council with no participation from Rick Chiarelli.

July 10: The report is released.

With files from Joanne Chianello