Chiarelli should face 'most severe of sanctions' for alleged improper conduct: integrity commissioner
OTTAWA -- The city of Ottawa’s integrity commissioner is recommending “the most severe of sanctions” against Coun. Rick Chiarelli after investigating allegations of improper conduct toward women applying for jobs in his office.
The report recommends council suspend Chiarelli’s salary for three consecutive 90-day periods, which amounts to more than $79,000 in pay.
“Because the Councillor is the longest serving elected public office holder on Council and that this offensive and disreputable behaviour has been going on for a very long time, I have decided that the most severe of sanctions are warranted in this case,” integrity commissioner Robert Marleau writes in his 76-page report, released Friday after a 10-month investigation.
Chiarelli has denied any wrongdoing, and did not participate in the investigation. CTV News Ottawa has reached out to Chiarelli for comment on the report.
The report details three complaints from people who had interviewed for a job in Coun. Chiarelli’s office. Marleau received two other complaints from former employees of his office, which he said will be dealt with in a separate report.
In each of the three cases, Chiarelli made comments that left the complainants “uncomfortable, embarrassed and troubled,” the report said.
“The Respondent exploited the power dynamic of the situation, in which the respondent held out the possibility of employment, to sexualize the discussion and questions in a manner that was upsetting and unacceptable.”
“Such comportment by an elected public office holder deeply harms the public interest and seriously damages the trust convent with the citizens who elect them.”
Council will consider the report Wednesday and decide whether to penalize Chiarelli.
The 90-day salary suspension is the strongest possible penalty council can impose on a member for breaching the code of conduct. Marleau is recommending that penalty for each violation, hence the three consecutive 90-day sanctions.
The allegations of the three job applicants are laid out in the report.
One complainant said Chiarelli questioned her tolerance and limits for wearing revealing or provocative clothing, including directly asking her whether she was willing to go “bra-less.”
Another complainant said Chiarelli asked her if she was willing to not wear a bra at nightclubs to recruit young men at nightclubs for his campaign.
The third complainant alleges Chiarelli asked her if she would consider stripping, saying “you have the body for it.” He also allegedly asked her if she participated in “World Orgasm Day.”
Marleau’s investigation found all those allegations to be established, and found each complainant to be “credible, honest and open.”
In Chiarelli’s most detailed response to the allegations—released in October and appended to the report—he denied the allegations and claimed they were part of a coordinated political attack.
“I can say, without reservation, that I have never treated a member of my staff (including job candidates) in a sexually harassing, discriminatory, or inappropriate ‘gender-based’ fashion,” Chiarelli said in the statement.
“People should know that I formally retained legal counsel in July of this year, after learning that I was being targeted over my attempts to bring greater transparency to the LRT procurement process. I had no idea, at the time, of the direction that these political attacks might take,” he says. “We were made aware of one of my political adversaries attempting to persuade a number of women to join an organized group to speak negatively about me.”
Marleau’s report concluded that “there is no credible basis for such a conspiracy theory. There is no evidence of an organized political movement. The three complainants did not know each other and there is no evidence of any collusion.”
In May, Marleau told council that the report would conclude without Chiarelli’s participation, and that he would take Chiarelli’s public statements as his denial of the allegations.
The report says 34 people were interviewed for the inquiry, which also examined extensive emails, Facebook messages, photographs, text messages and, in the case of one complainant, recorded telephone calls.
Chiarelli requested a leave of absence from council in October, citing a doctor’s note that he had fainted, but his colleagues denied the request. He had open heart surgery in December. Since council denied his request for medical leave, he has shown up to some council meetings.
Several of Chiarelli’s council colleagues have called for his resignation.
Read the full report: