Toronto

Election deadlines force integrity commissioner to suspend investigation into Mayor John Tory

The City of Toronto's integrity commissioner says he can't complete his investigation into whether Mayor John Tory broke municipal conflict-of-interest rules before the next municipal election due to looming deadlines. But Jonathan Batty says he can resume the probe after October's vote if the mayor or the complainant request it.

But Jonathan Batty says he'll resume probe after municipal election if Tory or complainant request it

Mayor John Tory was under investigation by the city's integrity commissioner after a complaint from local activist Adam Chaleff. But Jonathan Batty says there's not enough time to complete his work before the provincial deadline to wrap up all integrity inquiries on Aug. 19. (Cole Burston/The Canadian Press)

The City of Toronto's integrity commissioner says he can't complete his investigation into whether Mayor John Tory broke municipal conflict-of-interest rules before the next municipal election due to looming deadlines.

The announcement comes almost a month after a local activist asked Jonathan Batty to launch the investigation due to Tory's ties with Rogers Communications Inc. and his vote to scale back the ActiveTO closures at the request of the Toronto Blue Jays, the Major League Baseball team owned by the communications giant.

Batty advised complainant Adam Chaleff Wednesday that he didn't have enough time to complete his probe before an upcoming deadline this Friday — the last day candidates can register to run in the 2022 municipal election, and also the day on which all integrity commissioner inquiries must end. He says he can resume the probe after the election if Chaleff or Tory request it within six weeks after the Oct. 24 vote.

"It is simply not feasible to collect all the necessary evidence, complete the required analysis, formulate my findings and report to the parties before August 19, 2022," wrote Batty in a letter to Chaleff obtained by CBC Toronto.

"It is unfortunate that I received this application more than five weeks after the events in question."

Chaleff's complaint, filed on July 22, stems from a written request this summer from Blue Jays CEO Mark Shapiro to stop the ActiveTO traffic closures on Lake Shore Boulevard. He complained they were making it more difficult for fans to get to games.

Tory is a Rogers shareholder and an adviser to the Rogers Control Trust — a paid role. 

Tory chose to vote in favour of rolling back the closures in mid-June, which scaled back the program — instead of recusing himself due to his connections with Rogers.

Record on integrity 'speaks for itself,' mayor's office says

The Municipal Conflict of Interest Act prohibits councillors from participating in matters where they have either a direct or indirect financial interest. Councillors are barred from using their influence on decisions where there is a direct or indirect conflict. 

Batty says while he's spent the past three weeks collecting evidence and conducting interviews, he has "made no determination one way or the other" whether or not Tory breached the act.

Tory's office has previously denied the allegations and did so again Wednesday in a written statement to CBC News.

"Mayor Tory's record on integrity speaks for itself, and the timing of this complaint is certainly revealing," the statement from spokesperson Lawvin Hadisi reads. 

"The mayor has fully cooperated with the Integrity Commissioner's review, and is highly confident he has complied with the law and acted appropriately and in good faith on this issue." 

Chaleff, in a statement to CBC Toronto, says he'll ask Batty to continue the probe.

"Though I am disappointed that voters will not know the outcome of this investigation before they cast their ballots, I appreciate the integrity commissioner's effort to conduct a full, fair and expeditious inquiry into Mayor Tory's apparent conflict of interest," Chaleff wrote.

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story's headline said the integrity commissioner dropped the investigation. In fact, he could not not complete it before a municipal election deadline and can resume it after the vote at the request of Tory or the complainant.
    Aug 17, 2022 7:01 PM ET

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