If you are as disturbed as I am about what is happening in Brampton City Hall, you CAN do something about it. I will be adding resources you can use to contact the Ombudsman to add your voice to the growing calls for accountability.
***All complaints filed with the Ombudsman’s office are completely confidential. Your name will not be shared with the City of Brampton, Senior City Staffers or politicians.
The Ontario Ombudsman is an office that investigates processes in place in Municipalities that can be used, or misused, to affect the transparency and accountability of public officials.
Below, are just some of the issues that are in the news that require independent oversight by the Province. The hiring of the City’s Integrity Commissioner.
1. How was the Integrity Commissioner chosen, and by what process was she vetted given her documented historical relationship with Mayor Brown?
While the allegation that there is any loyalty in play that would comprise her objectivity, it remains that the City’s I terrify Commissioner has links to Patrick Brown, politically. Reported here
Given that the Integrity Commissioner mishandled the allegations that Mayor Brown had been playing hockey in a City Owned facility contrary to City and Provincial Covid Regulations, such complaint was dismissed on technicalities about the formulation of the complaint, what process is in place to ensure that no conflict of interest is affecting the decisions being made on Integrity Commissioner complaints?
To understand how the Integrity Commissioner mishandled the Hockey Allegation, read the analysis here: Mayor Brown Breached the Rules
2. The City’s hiring of the In Camera Meetings Investigator.
How was the firm Aird Berlis LLP chosen, and by what process was the firm vetted, given that the Mayor’s sister is a Partner at the firm? What processes are in place to ensure that her position as a Partner in that firm does not interfere with lawful requests for investigations into City Council’s innumerable “In Camera” and closed session meetings? How was the obvious conflict of interest addressed in the retainer agreement executed between the City and the firm of Aird Berlis LLP?
3. The City’s hiring of David Barrick and known associates of David Barrick.
There was some degree of surprise when the City Brampton hired David Barrick as it’s new CAO. Read more here Many questions remain unanswered about the process of his recruitment.
How was the City’s CAO chosen, and by what process was he vetted given his documented misfeasance in his tenure in Niagara Region? By what process were David Barrick’s associates, most of whom were also implicated in the wrongdoings in Niagara Region, vetted and hired at the City of Brampton in key senior roles?
If you haven’t already, I strongly urge you to read the report “Inside Job: Investigation into matters relating to the Regional Municipality of Niagara’s hiring of its Chief Administrative Officer, and its administration of his contract” which details the events I am describing. https://www.ombudsman.on.ca/resources/reports-and-case-summaries/reports-on-investigations/2019/inside-job
4. Senior City Staff being directed to work on a Political Campaign.
How can senior City Staff in Canada’s 9th largest City be directed to participate in the party leadership campaign of Peter MacKay, in his bid to be elected as Federal PC Party Leader?
What processes are in place to ensure that coercion and or intimidation was not a factor in an employees decision to participate in such events? Maybe its just me, but Freedom of Speech includes the right of all people to engage in politics of their own choosing. When an employer tells you to support a particular political friend, the power imbalance involved crosses the line into the unconscionable. How are City employees protected from potential abuses for political reasons?
5. The use of personal devices to conduct City Business.
How can senior City Staff and elected officials be allowed to use personal devices to discuss or conduct City business? How is the public to know if meetings are being conducted in private? After all, a hypothetical WhatsApp group that included six (6) City Councillors would constitute Quorum and would technically qualify as a Meeting of City Council, and all such meetings are legislatively required to be held in public, with notice of an agenda of items to be discussed. But it is abundantly clear that Senior Staff and Elected Officials are using personal devices and third party apps such as WhatsApp to discuss and conduct City Business. How is the public to gain access to any such records to ensure transparency and accountability? Especially if such discussions are happening on personal devices, and not subject to Freedom of Information Act requests for records?
6. The hiring of Deloitte LLP to investigate allegations of fraud and corruption.
The Pointer has covered a lot of the background on this issue Here
How can the City of Brampton have nominated Deloitte LLP, let alone hire them, to conduct an investigation into more than 60 allegations of fraud and corruption when Peter MacKay himself, for whom the Mayor directed City Staff to campaign politically, is employed at that firm as a Senior Advisor? What process are in place to screen and vet third party investigators? And for that matter, what process was in place to ensure that the parties implicated in the allegations did not interfere in the investigation, given that not one party was on paid leave during the artificially brief period of time allocated for the investigation? Not Mayor Brown, not David Barrick, not any of the parties who were the subject of the allegations were on paid leave until the investigation was completed. Given the senior roles they occupied at City Hall, what process was in place to ensure that intimidation was not a factor in what evidence was, or was not, available to the investigators?
7. The reorganization of City Hall departments and responsibilities.
Freedom of Information Act duties were transferred to the CAO’s office, contrary to the Municipal Act. Audit functions, designed to bring accountability and transparency, were transferred to the CAO’s office, despite there being an inherent and obvious conflict of interest. Procurement has been transferred to the CAO’s office. According to the Deloitte report, City Hall protocols and policies seem largely at the whim of the CAO, who can seemingly change them five minutes before he makes critical decisions without written documentation of such changes to City Policy. What processes are in place to ensure there are checks and balances in the operations of City Hall? How, for instance, can the City ensure that the parties being hired into Senior Engineering roles, responsible for public safety on an unimaginable scale, are actually qualified to hold those positions, and are not just political associates of elected officials or Senior City Staff? How is the public being protected in the short or long term by the current operational practices in place at Brampton City Hall?
8. The increase in sole sourced, untendered contracts.
Hundreds of thousands of dollars in untendered and sole sourced procurements, for everything from cleaning services to consultants, have been awarded to known friends and associates of Mayor Brown and CAO David Barrick. Tony Quirk (QPM); Brett Bell (Municipal Development Corporation Project); David Wheeler (Academy for Sustainable Innovation) have all been hired by the City. In one instance, it seems the City awarded a contract to a company that not yet even been incorporated. In some cases, there is no record the vendors have produced or presented a single update or final report to City Council. The terms of the untendered contracts and agreements between these individuals/entities with the City of Brampton have been kept a secret from members of Council and taxpayers. Because they exist as private third parties, access to information about their contracts can be substantially redacted or outright denied through the Freedom of Information Act inquiry process.
How are these individuals securing contracts, valued in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, without the City issuing an open tender to solicit the best value for taxpayers? Why have the details of their agreements with the City been kept a secret from taxpayers? Why has Council not received reports from these vendors reflective of the significant dollar value of these sole sourced/invitational contracts? Why has Council not received a value for money report from the CAO on why these contracts were necessary and the expected outcome from the work they were hired to undertake? What accountability tools are in place to ensure Councillors, and especially taxpayers, can be confident that staff are following the procurement by-law approved by Council? How can there be public confidence that improper tactics, undue influence and political nepotism are not being used to circumvent the rule and intent of the procurement by-law?
All of these questions are within the purview of the Ombudsman’s Office. They can investigate, and report to us, the citizens, on what exactly is happening in City Hall, and how we can fix it with recommendations on changes and reforms to ensure that the type of corruption at play in Niagara Region, outlined in detail in the “Inside Job” report, does not find a home here in Brampton.
Please, I encourage everyone to write to the Ombudsman today, and ask for a full investigation into any or all of these questions. You can cut and paste from this page and include it to your online complaint form, which you can file online:
You can also write to your City and Regional Councillors and ask why they are not demanding answers on your behalf.