Toronto

Jim Karygiannis violated city's code of conduct, integrity commissioner rules

​Coun. Jim Karygiannis violated the city's code of conduct during an "aggressive" confrontation with an UberX driver last summer, the city's integrity commissioner has ruled.

Report finds councillor broke the rules, but recommends against fine, suspension

The City of Toronto's integrity commissioner ruled that Coun. Jim Karygiannis violated the city's code of conduct during a confrontation with an Uber driver but recommended against a suspension or fine for the first-term councillor. (Aaron Vincent Elkaim/Canadian Press)

Toronto ​Coun. Jim Karygiannis violated the city's code of conduct during an "aggressive" confrontation with an UberX driver and by making repeated visits to a house over a parking dispute, the city's integrity commissioner has ruled in two separate reports.

Valerie Jepson has recommended that Karygiannis, a former MP and first-term city councillor, should be reprimanded by city council in one incident, but should not be punished in the other case.

In the Uber incident, the report says Karygiannis stood close to the driver and spoke to him "in a threatening manner" after the driver arrived on a residential street to pick up a fare last summer. Karygiannis has been one of council's most vocal critics of the popular ride-hailing service.

In the other incident, Karygiannis made repeated visits to a house last May to chide residents for illegally parking their car on the apron, the area of the driveway between the sidewalk and the street. 

In both incidents, Jepson found that Karygiannis's behaviour left residents with the false impression that he has enforcement powers. 

"The councillor acted in such a way that the driver, who recognized the councillor as a public figure, thought the councillor was going to facilitate his arrest," the report reads. 

"I find that the councillor's actions were aggressive and the driver's surprise, concern and apprehension about the councillor's intervention was therefore entirely understandable, although the councillor did not state that he intended to personally take enforcement actions."

Jepson found that in both instances, Karygiannis violated a section of a city code of conduct that requires councillors to treat members of the public, fellow council members and city staff without "abuse, bullying and intimidation." 

Karygiannis confronted driver 'in a loud voice'

The Uber incident happened last July 31. After a visit with her parents, the complainant and her boyfriend ordered a cab using the UberX app. On the way to picking up the fare, the driver stopped and asked a group of people — Karygiannis among them — if they'd ordered an Uber cab. The driver then continued down the street but was followed by Karygiannis in a car. The Ward 39 councillor then confronted the driver outside the home of the complainant's parents. 

"In a loud voice the councillor told the driver that by driving the Uber vehicle, he was breaking Ontario laws and municipal rules and regulations," the report reads. 

According to Jepson's report, Karygiannis then spoke to the complainant's father, telling him that Uber was uninsured and unsafe. The father of the complainant told Karygiannis to leave, which he did after taking a photo of the Uber car. 

Jepson's report said Karygiannis showed up at the house uninvited and acted in "an aggressive manner."

The report says Karygiannis defended his actions as part of his role as a councillor to "advocate his point of view with respect to the issue of the regulation of ground transportation services."

In the parking dispute, the report says Karygiannis threatened to have the car ticketed or towed. Jepson's report said Karygiannis's actions caused the residents of the house "to be scared of the councillor" and left the family feeling "intimidated" and "targeted."

And while a council member is allowed to inform constituents about bylaws, the integrity commissioner said Karygiannis left residents feeling he had enforcement powers. "The councillor bears full responsibility for this misunderstanding," Jepson wrote. 

No call for fine or suspension, integrity commissioner rules

In terms of punishment, the integrity commissioner recommended against a suspension or fine for Karygiannis. In both incidents Jepson recommends council adopt a finding that he violated the code of conduct. Jepson recommends a reprimand for his actions in the parking dispute. 

Jepson said the Uber confrontation was an isolated incident by a "relatively new member of council" and amounts to "a single, brief, heat-of-the-moment exchange." 

Jepson also points out that Karygiannis co-operated with her investigation and plans to "adjust his conduct in the future."


You can read the integrity commissioner's reports here: 

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