'Quite a surprise': Chiarelli returns to City Hall for first time since mid-December
OTTAWA -- For the first time in two months, Councillor Rick Chiarelli has appeared at a city council meeting.
Chiarelli took his seat at the council table ahead of Wednesday’s meeting. It was the first time Chiarelli was seen at City Hall since Dec. 11.
Speaking on Newstalk 580 CFRA's Ottawa Now with Kristy Cameron, Bay Ward Councillor Theresa Kavanagh said she was surprised to see Chiarelli at the meeting.
"He came in a wheelchair and he had what looked like IVs with him. He didn't look terribly good; he looked like somebody who's been sick," Kavanagh said. "It was quite a surprise. I wasn't expecting him to be there."
In October, Council unanimously rejected his request for a medical leave of absence, requiring him to show up for a meeting at least once every three months in order to keep his seat on Council.
In a statement on Twitter, Chiarelli’s wife Lida said “he feels he owes it his constituents to do what he must, in the short term, to ensure he maintains his seat."
The note added Chiarelli "has no confidence whatsoever that any additional application he would make for medical leave would be considered objectively given Council’s, the Mayor’s and the City Clerk’s actions in the past months.”
Kavanagh told Ottawa Now it didn't appear Chiarelli had worked with the City Clerk on anything regarding his illness when he came to Wednesday's meeting.
"He's got the rule on his side in terms of up to three months," she said. "He's got March, April, May, if he doesn't want to come in again. I can't predict it. Obviously, he felt a desire to come and participate and he is an elected official."
In December, Chiarelli was admitted to the University of Ottawa Heart Institute for open heart surgery. In a statement, his office said “open heart surgery is necessary to save his life. A quadruple heart bypass is planned.”
A message from Chiarelli’s Twitter feed in January said he remained at the Heart Institute, where he was being treated for an infection.
On Feb. 6, a tweet from Chiarelli’s wife said “glad to have Rick home from the Heart Institute.”
Several of Chiarelli’s council colleagues had called for his resignation amid allegations that he made inappropriate remarks to female staffers. He denies the allegations.
Chiarelli attended meetings in late October and on Dec. 11. He must attend another meeting before the end of May to maintain his council seat.