Chiarelli has ‘no intention’ to participate in investigation: Integrity Commissioner
OTTAWA -- Ottawa’s Integrity Commissioner says his investigation into allegations against Councillor Rick Chiarelli will “conclude without the respondent’s participation.”
In a report for Wednesday’s Council meeting, Robert Marleau provides an update on his investigation into the allegations against the Councillor and his attempts to speak with him.
In February, Marleau told Council his investigation was at a standstill pending Chiarelli’s decision to participate in an interview or to provide a response to the allegations. Marleau’s report outlines several attempts to secure a meeting to discuss the investigation.
“Notwithstanding the respondent’s medical challenges, after more than a fair opportunity to confirm that he will participate in the investigation, my conclusion is that the respondent has no intention to do so,” Marleau writes in the report for Wednesday’s Council meeting.
“This has been demonstrated by the respondent’s refusal to provide any response to the allegations in the initial stages of this process, his unwillingness to voluntarily commit to attend an interview and his efforts to evade service of the summons.”
Marleau says he will take Chiarelli’s public statements as his “refutation and denial of the allegations in the formal complaints and formulate my findings accordingly.”
Several women have accused Chiarelli of inappropriate conduct. Chiarelli has denied the allegations.
In December, Chiarelli underwent open-heart surgery at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute, and remained in hospital for several weeks.
Marleau’s report for Council says on February 12, he formally declined Chiarelli’s request to stay and/or terminate the inquiry. The Integrity Commissioner said he requested confirmation for Chiarelli’s willingness to participate in the investigation by February 17, but was informed that Chiarelli could not provide a firm date for an interview due to his ongoing medical issues.
“Again, no indication was provided that the respondent would be willing to participate,” Marleau writes.
On February 27, Marleau said he was informed Chiarelli was “prepared to participate in an investigative process that is fair and balanced,” adding that Chiarelli could “not properly assess the reasonableness of any interview request until he is medically cleared to return to work." Marleau says he was provided two medical certificates indicating Chiarelli would remain off until March 24.
Marleau tells Council that after Chiarelli refused to provide a clear commitment to participate willingly in an interview, he opted to invoke the powers of summons under Section 10 (1) of the Public Inquiries Act, 2009, requiring the respondent to attend an interview and provide evidence under oath or affirmation. An interview was scheduled for April 6.
Marleau says on March 4 he engaged the services of a process server to serve the summons on the respondent at his home.
“During the first three attempts, the process server observed individuals in the house who would not answer the door,” the report states.
On the fourth attempt on March 16, Marleau said the process server observed Chiarelli sitting at a computer through a front window of the home, but no one answered the door.
“After knocking and ringing the bell, the process server saw the respondent looking through the front window. The process server waved the envelope at the respondent and informed him that he was serving a summons from the City of Ottawa,” Marleau writes.
“When the respondent refused to answer the door, the process server placed the envelope at the door and concluded the documents had been brought to the respondent’s attention in fulfillment of the service requirements under the Public Inquiries Act, 2009.”
Marleau says on March 20, he advised Chiarelli’s legal counsel that an interview on April 6 would be postponed until further notice due to the COVID-19 restrictions. Later, Marleau decided the interview would have to proceed by way of teleconference.
“During this time, the respondent appeared to resume some of his official duties,” Marleau writes.
“Specifically, the respondent attended the City Council meeting of February 26 and participated in the special City Council meetings on March 25 and April 8 (by teleconference).”
Marleau says he advised the Councillor and his legal counsel on April 14 that the interview was scheduled for May 6 and would proceed as a teleconference.
Marleau writes that on April 17 he received a response from Chiarelli’s lawyer that he had experienced another medical emergency on April 14 and would remain off work until June 29. Marleau added that Chiarelli’s lawyers also told him that “in his opinion, the respondent had not been properly served any summons.”
Marleau says "taking into consideration the efforts of previous months," he told Chiarelli’s lawyers on April 24 that there would be no further requests for interviews.
Marleau added he informed Chiarelli's legal counsel that “In the absence of his participation, I intended to rely on the respondent’s public statements as his response to the allegations set out in the formal complaints and would proceed with making my findings and reporting to Council as appropriate.”
The Integrity Commissioner says when his intent to provide Council with the second interim report was announced on May 8, he received a response from Chiarelli’s legal counsel in which he said the respondent had provided confirmation of his intention to participate.
“The assertion that the respondent had confirmed his intention to participate in the investigation is simply not true,” Marleau writes.
“Correspondence from the respondent’s legal counsel has indicated a willingness to ‘consider the request’ for participation and nothing more.”
Marleau says on May 12 he provided Chiarelli a “final opportunity” to provide a commitment to participate in the investigation when medically cleared to do so, by end of day on May 15.
“I received no response from the respondent or his legal counsel,” Marleau’s report states.
Marleau says he will now proceed to intake Chiarelli’s public statements “as his refutation and denial of the allegations in the formal complaints and formulate my findings accordingly.”
The Integrity Commissioner says if the complaints are sustained, a report will be filed with his findings and recommendations as soon as possible.