Rick Chiarelli undergoing open heart surgery
OTTAWA -- Embattled city councillor Rick Chiarelli is undergoing open heart surgery, his office said in a news release Friday morning.
Chiarelli has been admitted to the Ottawa Heart Institute for the operation.
“Open heart surgery is necessary to save his life. A quadruple heart bypass is planned,” the release said.
The news release also said Chiarelli plans to return to work full time following his recovery from the surgery.
Several of Chiarelli’s council colleagues have called for his resignation amid allegations that he made inappropriate remarks to female staffers. He denies the allegations.
Friday’s release said Chiarelli has not been feeling well since the spring, and visits to doctors revealed “several serious medical conditions,” including cardiac issues.
Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson expressed his well wishes to Chiarelli on Friday morning, via Twitter, saying "I'd like to wish Councillor Chiarelli a successful operation and a speedy recovery."
In October, council unanimously rejected his request for a medical leave of absence, requiring him to show up for a meeting in November to keep his seat on council.
He attended a council meeting in late October and was there again on Wednesday, facing a silent protest in which members of the public and several of his council colleagues stood during his attendance at the meeting.
The release said shortly after leaving that meeting, he was told that he would be admitted to the Heart Institute for surgery.
But the release noted that as Chiarelli entered surgery Friday, he remained in a “difficult state of limbo,” with no approved medical leave.
“His recent attendance at Council meetings ran contrary to his preferred approach, and physicians’ direction, but was obviously necessary in order to maintain his Council seat, and his health benefits and insurance coverages.”
Councillor Laura Dudas said council made the best decision at the time based on the limited information they had.
"We're not doctors, we're not experts, we're not legal experts and I'm not going to say that we are. We're looking forward to seeing what the integrity commissioner brings forth from that respect but these are two separate matters and the fact is we have to make the best decisions with the information we have. You know I wish him well but it'd be good to have more information. We've been left in the dark in this respect."
The news release also said Chiarelli’s annual alcohol-free New Year’s Eve event will proceed, although Chiarelli himself won’t be there.