Ottawa

Coun. Rick Chiarelli has 'no intention of resigning'

Even though his council colleagues have decided to dock his pay for 270 days, College ward councillor Rick Chiarelli intends to stay on in his job.

Statement says Chiarelli has been resuming ward duties despite health challenges

Coun. Rick Chiarelli was allowed to participate in the discussion on the integrity commissioner's report about his misconduct on July 15, 2020, but not vote. The councillor said he was advised not to comment because of his legal challenge against the city. (Rogers TV broadcast of council)

College ward Coun. Rick Chiarelli intends to stay on in his job, even though Ottawa's integrity commissioner found his behaviour toward job applicants "offensive and disreputable" and his council colleagues have docked him 270 days' pay.

A week ago, city council voted unanimously to follow integrity commissioner Robert Marleau's recommendation and level the stiffest penalties available to them: consecutive 90-day pay suspensions for each of three female complainants who said Chiarelli had asked them inappropriate questions in job interviews.

However, according to a statement provided by Chantal Lebel in the councillor's office, "Councillor Chiarelli has no intention of resigning."

"He remains dedicated to living up to the oath he took when he was sworn into office.  He continues to have the well-being of the College ward community at heart and intends to fulfil the commitment he made to his constituents who re-elected him to his position as councillor and to serve his full term in office even if that means he will be doing so without pay for the period imposed in the sanctions against him."

The statement was first reported on Susan Sherring's blog, On the City, From the Burbs.

The council term runs to the fall of 2022. The 270-day pay suspension would last from August 14 to the second week of May in 2021.

Mayor Jim Watson said last week he hoped Chiarelli would keep working without pay, adding that council "can't force him to work harder or not be lazy on a particular file."

A second integrity commissioner's report is also expected in the coming months, looking into complaints by two women who once worked in Chiarelli's office. And last week, council heard about a third report that is coming about Chiarelli, this one based on a former staffer's workplace harassment complaint to the city though the Ontario Health and Safety Act.

Resuming duties despite 'severe health challenges'

Some community associations in College ward have called for Chiarelli's resignation, saying they were "appalled" by the contents of the integrity commissioner's report and need a councillor working on the ward's issues.

But according to Chiarelli's statement, the councillor has been slowly resuming duties as his health permits and will continue to increase his workload "despite the severe health challenges he has faced in the past several months."

"This only shows his commitment and his willingness to continue representing the people who elected him as he continues to recover," the statement reads.

Shortly after allegations by job applicants and former staff were first reported by CBC last fall, Chiarelli released a statement saying he had been rushed to the emergency department in August. Council saw a medical note, but denied him an indefinite leave of absence last October. He had open-heart surgery in December.

Coun. Jenna Sudds stood for the entire council meeting on Nov. 6, 2019, to protest Coun. Rick Chiarelli's return to council. On Dec. 11, when Chiarelli next showed up at city council, most of her colleagues joined her. (CBC)

As for the misconduct complaints against him, the statement said he is looking ahead to the court challenge he has filed and expects it will "bring the truth to light and highlight some of the very blatant bias by the Integrity Commissioner and other individuals involved in the process."

Chiarelli's lawyer has argued the integrity commissioner does not have the jurisdiction to investigate the complaints and has council of "patent and palpable bias" against Chiarelli. He argued council shouldn't rule on his sanctions because the mayor and councillors had "predetermined their preferred outcome" when they held a standing protest and refused his leave of absence.

The integrity commissioner, for his part, laid out in detail his many attempts to have Chiarelli take part in his misconduct investigation.

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