Police found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing or contravention of the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act in their probe of alleged financial abuses at the city
Brampton mayor says city officials have been ‘vindicated’ by report, but city director said probe is inadequate
A municipal watchdog has released a wide-ranging report which says the provincial government is doing a poor job auditing municipal affairs, the oversight of municipal staff and the governance of municipal political parties in municipalities.
The Ontario Municipal Board’s decision to assign the inquiry to former Ontario auditor general Michael Ferguson brought “new confidence” to municipal leaders, Brampton mayor Roe Vedel said in a statement.
But Vedel’s view of the report differs from the one given by city director David Kuntz.
In an email reply to the Toronto Star Vedel said Kuntz “was shocked” by the report and “worried that an early draft was too harsh” in its findings.
“The mayor’s perception of the report’s findings is that he feels betrayed by local government,” Kuntz wrote.
“I felt bad for the lack of direction. However, in the end, I think the report should have come back with some confidence building recommendations,” Kuntz said.
Vedel told the Toronto Star he had never read Kuntz’s full response and “had to search through thousands of pages of ‘allegations’ and ‘jurisdictions’ to find it”.
Brampton’s city auditor concluded that Vedel had violated the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act for failing to inform the city clerk of his outside work in local government prior to taking office and for failing to provide the city clerk with legal advice on whether the councillor had a conflict of interest when he was not voted in.
But Vedel told the Star that he did seek the city clerk’s advice on his outside work and that the act on conflict of interest has expanded, making it “well beyond being just an ordinary conflict of interest”.
“I did not operate under any of the strict provisions of the Act,” Vedel said.
In a report published by the report, an advocate for change in Ontario said that the review showed that local government is badly in need of “meaningful reforms” in order to restore public trust.
The report of the Ontario Municipal Board committee of inquiry also found that the Ontario government did not “adequately and fully regulate the conduct of municipal party members and politicians”.
The OLRB committee also said the Ontario government did not adequately inspect and audit the financial activities of city managers and senior administration.
The committee said in the majority of cases, “the reality is that municipal governments have no meaningful, controlling or prudential oversight of their political parties, their spending and their own agendas”.
“The considerable burden of responsibility required by the Act is entirely absent in the governance of local governments in Ontario,” the report read.