Ottawa

Integrity commissioner's damning report 'unfair,' says Chiarelli

Coun. Rick Chiarelli says a damning report from the city's integrity commissioner — one that recommends the harshest sanctions possible against the College ward councillor — is "unfair" because it was completed without giving him the opportunity to comment, according to a statement sent to some media outlets.

College ward councillor said in statement he was unable to participate

In a statement, Coun. Rick Chiarelli said he was unable to participate in integrity commissioner Robert Marleau's investigation 'due to ongoing medical issues,' including heart surgery and a small stroke. (Giacomo Panico/CBC)

Coun. Rick Chiarelli says a damning report from the city's integrity commissioner — one that recommends the harshest sanctions possible against the College ward councillor — is "unfair" because it was completed without giving him the opportunity to comment, according to a statement sent to some media outlets.

On Friday, integrity commissioner Robert Marleau released a report on Chiarelli's behaviour toward three job applicants who filed formal complaints against the councillor last September and October.

The women said they were asked questions, told stories and shown pictures they found inappropriate and sexual in nature.

The report called the women "credible, honest and open," but found Chiarelli's denial in a statement released last fall — the councillor's only direct comments about the accusations — to be "not credible."

The report recommends Ottawa city council mete out the most severe sanction permissible: the suspension of 90 days of salary for each complaint, for a total of about nine months, or more than $79,000.

The report is unfair because it was completed without consideration for Councillor Chiarelli having the opportunity to comment. ​​- Statement from Coun. Rick Chiarelli's office, sent to Ottawa Citizen

Chiarelli gave comment to other media, not CBC

A CBC news investigation last fall first reported the stories of eight women who accused the councillor of inappropriate behaviour.

On Friday morning, CBC emailed the councillor and his lawyer for a request for comment on the report, but received no reply.

That request was repeated Saturday, but CBC had received no reply as of Saturday evening.

However, Chiarelli's office did provide a written statement to the Ottawa Citizen, attributed to Chantal Lebel, director of strategic affairs and communications in his office.

According to the Ottawa Citizen story, the unaltered statement reads:

"The report is unfair because it was completed without consideration for Councillor Chiarelli having the opportunity to comment, not because he was unwilling to participate but because the Councillor was unable to due to ongoing medical issues which led to him requiring Open-Heart surgery then followed by severe complications which were documented. Medical notes were provided to the Integrity Commissioner on several occasions which he failed to mention in his Interim Report despite having them at that time but those are now recorded in the final report." 

"On April 14 the Councillor also experienced another medical emergency which was determined to be a TIA aka mini-stroke which led to some temporary memory loss and a recommendation from the neurosurgeon extending his medical leave and not to participate in anything stressful until the end of July."

According to the Citizen story, the statement said Chiarelli's lawyer started the court process Friday to seek a judicial review "as this process was filled with bias, no natural justice and was based on no tangible evidence except hearsay."

According to his statement, Chiarelli, second from right, has now applied for a judicial review of the findings, claiming the investigation involved 'no tangible evidence except hearsay.' (Francis Ferland/CBC)

Marleau documented efforts to engage Chiarelli

Chiarelli and his lawyer threatened to challenge the authority of the integrity commissioner to investigate these complaints as early as last October, when they told Marleau the councillor would not be "responding substantively" to any complaint filed with the office until the Ontario Divisional Court had ruled on the issue of jurisdiction.

Part of the integrity commissioner's report deals with his efforts to schedule an interview with Chiarelli, including four attempts to serve him with a summons.

"The Councillor was afforded the opportunity to provide written responses, information, and documentation, to be interviewed on invitation and to represent his position in response to the allegations," according to the report.

Council will consider and vote on the recommendations to sanction Chiarelli this Wednesday, its final meeting before the summer break.

The integrity commissioner is also set to release a second report that deals with the formal complaints of two former employees in Chiarelli's office at a later date.

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