According to the City of Brampton website, the following is supposed to be the process of the Integrity Commissioner:

https://www.brampton.ca/EN/City-Hall/Pages/Complaint-Process.aspx

I’d like you, the reader, to focus on Step 5. In particular, there are two aspects of the process that don’t sit right with me.

Number 1 – The Integrity Commissioner will attempt to have a final report within 120 days (ie: 4 months). This disturbs me because it is hardly ever abided by, and there is absolutely nothing a member of the public can do about it when a complaint has taken longer than seventeen months to be dealt with. I know this from first hand experience. But even beyond my own story, one only has to look at the 2020 Report of the Integrity Commissioner to Council, dated February 11, 2021, which you can find here: https://www.brampton.ca/EN/City-Hall/Pages/IntegrityCommissioner.aspx?Paged=TRUE&p_Year=2020&p_SortBehavior=0&p_ID=32&PageFirstRow=31&&View={B4C90631-0666-4AF2-816C-081904559413} In that report, the Integrity Commissioner acknowledges an open file, and indicates that a Report will be delivered forthwith upon its completion; that was written seven (7) months ago, and the report is still outstanding?

“A complaint from a member of the public alleging that Mayor Patrick Brown violated the Code, the City of Brampton’s Mandatory Face Coverings By-law (135-2020) and the provincial re-opening guidelines passed under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. A Report on this matter will be delivered to Council forthwith upon its completion.”

Number 2 – Where the Integrity Commissioner feels like a Member of Council is unlikely to be punished, they can just choose to close a file? This bothers me because there is no detail at all about what is meant by this.

Let me give you an example. Right now, on Council, there is a block of seven (7) councillors who are loyal to the Mayor, no matter how clearly he is breaking City Rules, Policies and By-Laws (e.g.: directing City Staff to work on Peter MacKay’s political campaign). Could the Integrity Commissioner decide that since there is simply no chance that block of seven (7) councillors would vote to actually sanction the Mayor, that they can simply close the file? Could the Integrity Commissioner simply close every file that alleges the Mayor has contravened the City’s By-Laws? What about any complaint about any one of the seven “Mayoral Loyalists” on the basis that they will not break ranks in any event?

On the surface, that is exactly what could be happening. And how would the public ever know about it, especially when no one is holding the Integrity Commissioner to the four (4) month deadline to process complaints? Or the City Clerk to publish reports concerning closed or dismissed complaints that I can find on the City Website?

Is this process fair, equitable and completely transparent? Is it free from partisan and undue political interference?

Are you sure?

Complaint Processing

Step 1 – Intake

  • Every complaint shall be assigned a file number.
  • The complaint will be screened for jurisdiction:
    • i. When the complaint does not relate to an alleged ethical violation by a Member, the intake office will refer the complainant elsewhere.
    • ii. Where the complaint relates to an alleged ethical violation by a Member, the matter will proceed to to the Facilitated Resolution Officer (“FRO”) for further examination and review.

Step 2 – Facilitated Resolution Officer (FRO) Review

  • The FRO will first determine whether the complaint is within the Integrity Commissioner’s mandate.
    • If the complaint is outside the mandate, the FRO will so advise the complainant, and the file will be closed.  
    • If the FRO determines that the complaint is appropriate for further review, the FRO will send a Complaint Submission Form to the complainant.  

Step 3 – lnitial View Letter

  • Upon receiving the completed and signed Complaint Submission Form from the complainant, the FRO will assess whether an investigation would be practical.
    • If the FRO determines that an investigation would be unlikely to result in a sanction or any other action to be taken by Council or a Member, the FRO will send a letter (“Initial View Letter”) to the complainant explaining why an investigation would not be conducted, and the OIC will then close the file.
    • Otherwise, the matter will proceed to Resolution Facilitation.   

Step 4 – Resolution Facilitation

  • Where the FRO believes that an Initial View Letter would be inappropriate, he/she will consider whether the complaint can be resolved consensually.
    • If the complaint does not impugn a Member’s conduct, make an allegation of ethical misconduct involving a Member, or raise an issue of public interest, the FRO will first attempt to resolve the dispute by Resolution Facilitation.  
    • If the stakeholders agree on a resolution, the file will be closed.  Where Resolution Facilitation is inappropriate, or does not result in a resolution of the complaint, the Integrity Commissioner may conduct an investigation of the complaint.  

Step 5 – lnvestigations

  • The Integrity Commissioner will conduct its investigation in a way to determine whether a Member has violated the Code, a City of Brampton by-law, the City’s policies, procedures, or rules, or any legislation governing Members’ ethical behaviour.  
  • The Integrity Commissioner (IC) will communicate to the Member the facts on which the complaint is based.
    • Such disclosure shall be affected in the manner deemed appropriate by the IC, in its discretion.
  • Where the complaint is sustained in whole or in part, the IC will deliver its written Report to Council, signed by the Integrity Commissioner or their designate, by way of delivery to the City Clerk.
    • If the IC determines that there has been a violation, the IC may make a recommendation in the Report to Council respecting an appropriate sanction. Council can then decide whether to impose the sanction. 
    • Where the complaint is dismissed, other than in exceptional circumstances, the IC will not report to Council except as part of an annual or other periodic report.
      • A complaint dismissed by the IC will be provided to the City Clerk, who will ensure the information is publicly available and provided to the complainant and affected Member.  
      • If the IC concludes that there is insufficient evidence of a breach of the Code or an ethical violation, the IC will close the file.
      • The IC may also close the file where the complaint appears to be frivolous, abusive, or vexatious.
      • In addition, if the IC at any point determines that nothing further can be accomplished through an investigation or further investigation, or there is unlikely to be a sanction or any other action taken by or respecting Councillor a Member, the IC has the right to terminate an investigation at such point, and advise the complainant accordingly.  
  • The IC will exercise its best efforts to complete its investigations within 120 days of its receiving the Complaint Submission Form.  
  • For any complaint received as of August 1 in any municipal election year, the Integrity Commissioner shall stay any investigation required by such complaint until the day after the inaugural meeting of the new Council and until then, shall keep such complaint confidential.