Ombudsman Clears Council

Ontario’s Ombudsman has delivered his report into his latest investigation of London city council.

Andre Marin says the councillors who may have discussed filling the vacant Ward 5 seat during a dinner break on June 24 did not violate the Municipal Act’s provisions on illegal secret meetings.

In his report, called Turning Tables, Marin also expressed concern that the two councillors who lodged the complaints that led to the investigation appeared to be motivated by politics.

“The circumstances surrounding the filing of complaints with my office about the June 24 dinner gathering raise concerns about the possible motives of the councillors who lodged them. Accordingly, I would like to emphasize for future reference that the “sunshine law” was not intended as a tool to serve the oblique purposes of those involved in municipal politics. It should be respected as a mechanism for upholding the public interest in ensuring accountability, openness and transparency in local government,” Marin writes.

The investigation was launched after allegations that there were discussions in the city hall cafeteria about appointing former controller Russ Monteith to fill the Ward 5 seat. The seat was vacated by Joni Baechler when she became mayor after the resignation of Joe Fontana.

The probe focused on those accusations, and whether they amounted to an illegal secret meeting.

Marin’s report says discrepancies existed in the recollections of various councillors. He also had trouble believing the testimony of three councillors in particular.

“Given the significant discrepancy between the evidence of councillors Orser, Henderson and White and other witness accounts, I cannot place much weight on their testimony. It is unclear how much can be read into the fact that these three were the only diners to suggest that there was anything problematic about the discussions over dinner on June 24,” the report says.

Marin’s full report can be read by clicking the link below.

Turning Tables