Integrity commissioner recommends Chiarelli receive 180-day pay suspension for inappropriate behaviour

OTTAWA — The city of Ottawa’s integrity commissioner recommends council suspend Coun. Rick Chiarelli’s pay another 180 days following an investigation into alleged inappropriate behaviour towards two former staff members.

Robert Marleau’s report for council also recommends removing the College Ward councillor from all committees and suspending his authority to hire staff and spend office money until the 2022 municipal election.

“I conclude that (Chiarelli’s) conduct is a shocking and astounding failure to treat the complainants with the respect they were due and required of him by the code of conduct,” said Marleau’s report, stating he believes the veteran councillor violated council’s code of conduct.

“(Chiarelli) has deliberately engaged in a course of vexatious and troublesome comments against several individuals; he was absorbed in planning and executing volunteer subterfuge recruitment campaigns by objectifying the sexuality of his female employees; he abused his staff by tasking them with improper duties and functions.”

Council will debate Marleau’s report into alleged inappropriate conduct by Chiarelli on Wednesday. This report looked into the complaints by two former staff members in Chiarelli’s office.  

A statement on Chiarelli’s Twitter account said: “Rick Chiarelli is waiting for the outcome of the Judicial Review currently with the Divisional Court regarding the biased handling of the anonymous allegations against him by the mayor, the city and the city’s integrity commissioner.”

“He denies the allegations.”

One former staff member worked in Chiarelli’s office between Dec. 2018 and June 2019. The integrity commissioner’s report outlines her allegations:

  • During a job interview with the councillor, Chiarelli asked if she would be willing to go on “assignments” to flirt with men at networking events, including at bars, to convince them to volunteer for the office and give the office information
  • The report says while employed in the office, the complainant said Chiarelli told her to “wear revealing clothing” when she was to go on assignment
  • The complainant said the councillor made inappropriate comments regarding her appearance and body, and nicknames for her and her co-workers
  • In a text message, she was told to wear something “sexy” to an event
  • The report says the complainant said the councillor “exhibited abusive behaviour towards her and her co-workers including making fun of and speaking down about her and her co-workers, telling her that constituents and co-workers hated her”

The second complainant worked in Chiarelli’s office from Nov. 2015 until she went on medical leave in Feb. 2018.  The integrity commissioner’s report outlines her allegations:

  • During a job interview, she said Chiarelli pressured the individual into sharing intimate details about her personal life by implying it would help the councillor “protect” her
  • While employed in Chiarelli’s office, the complainant said the councillor made inappropriate comments about her appearance and body
  • The former staffer said Chiarelli regularly informed office staff that they could be fired at any-time without cause

After speaking with both complainants and witnesses, Marleau writes, “Overall, I conclude that both complainants and the witnesses were credible and reliable.”

In the report, Marleau says Chiarelli, through his legal counsel, refused to respond in writing to the two complaints as required by the Complaint Protocol and refused to schedule an interview to testify in the investigation.

In June, Council ruled Chiarelli broke the code of conduct and suspended his pay for 270-days following Marleau’s investigation into alleged inappropriate behaviour by Chiarelli towards three women applying for jobs in his office. The pay suspension is the most severe punishment available to Council.

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