Integrity Commissioner cites 4 ethics breaches by City Councillor

A complaint was filed by a Brampton resident last August to the city’s Integrity Commissioner against Brampton Ward 7/8 City Councillor Charmaine Williams regarding her “Slow Down” sign campaign.

The resident claimed that the Councillor’s sign campaign violated By-law 399-2002 and did not qualify for a exemption as the signs were not exclusively public safety in nature.

The Integrity Commissioner reported her findings on the case and stated:

Although the Complaint does not explicitly list Code of Conduct rules, the relevant rules that would apply in relation to the allegations in the Complaint and Councillor Williams’ actions during the sign campaign are as follows:

1. Rule No. 13 — Encouragement of Respect for the City and its By-Laws
2. Rule No. 10 — Media Communication
3. Rule No. 18 — Failure to Adhere to Council Policies and Procedures
4. Rule No. 3 — Confidential Information.

In each one of these Code of Conduct violations Councillor Williams was found to be in breach of the Code.

Rule #13 ” Instead, the manner in which she commenced the campaign (including the commentary she provided to the media) not only publicly demonstrated a lack of solidarity between City Council in Brampton, it eroded the sense of confidence that any Brampton resident would have in the City’s By-laws. ” ….” In light of the foregoing, I find Councillor Williams in breach of Rule No. 13 of the Code of Conduct.

Rule#10 – “ On October 30, 2019, Councillor Williams provided commentary to Brampton Guardian, stating that two Councillors had filed complaints against her, when that was wholly untrue…..In failing to abide by my clear instructions on preserving confidentiality under the Municipal Act, 2001, Councillor Williams misinformed the public around complaints as it related to the sign campaign…. As such, I find Councillor Williams in breach of Rule No. 10 of the Code of Conduct.

Rule #18 “I find that Councillor Williams breached Rule No. 18 of the Code of Conduct by failing to adhere to the appropriate procedure under the Complaints Protocol…… Councillor Williams failed to abide by my instructions and therefore breached Section 10(2) of the Complaints Protocol, thereby failing to adhere to the complaints procedure that is adopted by Council. “

Rule#3 – “For the reasons mentioned under Rule No. 18, I find that Councillor Williams breached Rule No. 3 of the Code of Conduct in continuing to communicate with the public regarding the Complaint and matters that came to her knowledge thereof despite my clear direction to the contrary, pursuant to section 223.5(1) of the Municipal Act, 2001. ”

As a result of the Code of Conduct violations, the Integrity Commissioner stated:

” My recommendation is for Councillor Williams to take appropriate steps in the future, insofar as it relates to any further initiatives she may institute in her capacity as an elected member of Council, to work with her colleagues and City employees/staff/officials in ensuring that those initiatives are onside before she disseminates information around the legalities of those initiatives to Brampton residents. …. Furthermore, I am recommending that City Council issue a verbal reprimand to Councillor Williams in line with my conclusions as set out above. “

The report was to be discussed at Council meeting today (Wed Feb 26 2020) and was deferred to Council meeting on Wednesday March 11th 2020. The full ruling can be found on the city’s website.