Ottawa

Coun. Rick Chiarelli to get quadruple bypass heart surgery

The office of the Ottawa city councillor accused of inappropriate behaviour by more than a dozen women says he's at the hospital for open heart surgery.

Councillor said Wednesday he hoped to start doing more work in ward again

Coun. Rick Chiarelli came to council on Dec. 11, 2019, but left before the budget vote. (Kate Porter/CBC)

The Ottawa city councillor accused of inappropriate behaviour by more than a dozen women says he needs open heart surgery.

College Coun. Rick Chiarelli's office said Friday in a statement to media he has been admitted to hospital for quadruple bypass surgery, which creates detours around blocked heart arteries using a piece of a blood vessel from elsewhere in the body.

It comes two days after Chiarelli attended the start of the 2020 city budget meeting where he was met with protests inside and outside council chambers. He left before the vote on the full budget — though he did vote against the transit budget.

"Shortly after leaving the Council meeting … Rick was told that he would be admitted to the Ottawa [Hospital] Heart Institute and that surgery would be almost immediate," the statement said.

Thirteen women have now told CBC about inappropriate behaviour and comments by Chiarelli in his office and during job interviews.

Chiarelli has denied all allegations and has said he is challenging the authority of the city's integrity commissioner to investigate them.

Lost council help 2 days ago

Also in Wednesday's meeting, council unanimously approved a motion to relieve neighbouring councillors Scott Moffatt and Allan Hubley of their duties helping College ward residents while their councillor was away.

"The last couple of weeks it's become evident to me just through emails and through interactions with his office that Coun. Chiarelli has been working," Moffatt told reporters.

In an unprecedented move, Ottawa city council had unanimously denied Chiarelli's request for a leave of absence in late October, despite doctor's notes saying he had high blood pressure and suffered a fainting spell about a week earlier.

About a month earlier, council had granted a six-month leave of absence to Coun. Diane Deans so she could seek treatment for ovarian cancer.

"[Coun. Chiarelli's] recent attendance at Council meetings ran contrary to his preferred approach, and physicians' direction, but was obviously necessary in order to maintain his council seat and his health benefits and insurance coverages," Friday's statement said.

"He will have to do his best and, with the continued help of his excellent staff, as he recovers and becomes progressively stronger, he hopes to do more and more of the work needed in his ward."

Moffatt said council denied Chiarelli's request for leave because the information he provided about his medical situation was incomplete, leaving the exact nature of his health concern unclear.

A letter provided to council did not mention heart problems, he said.

"We can only make decisions with the information we have in front of us," Moffatt told CBC News. "No one wishes ill will on any of our colleagues, so just be honest with us."

Now that Chiarelli is undergoing a serious medical procedure, Moffatt said council would likely support a leave.

In the meantime, Moffatt's office said his staff would be helping with ward issues.

Mayor Jim Watson said he's abstaining from commenting further on the allegations surrounding Chiarelli until he's in recovery.

"Mayor Watson wishes the councillor a successful operation [and] a speedy recovery," an emailed statement from the mayor's press secretary reads.

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story said the news of the surgery was sent out in a memo to city colleagues. In fact, the news was sent as a statement to some members of the media.
    Dec 13, 2019 3:27 PM ET

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