Remarks made in an email to a constituent by Councillor John Sprovieri have sparked complaints with the city’s integrity commissioner.
Councillor Sprovieri confirmed in an interview with CityNews late last week that a handful of complaints have been filed with the integrity commissioner.
The controversy began when a constituent sent an incendiary tirade via email to councillors with the subject line, “Why are white people still deciding Brampton’s future?”. The email referred to city hall as an “asylum” and took aggressive aim at the diversity of city staff and council.
While others on council ignored the email, Sproveri responded, stating that “people of all races, colour and creeds are eager to come to Brampton and Canada because the white people of this nation have developed a great system where everyone is welcome and can live peacefully together.”
Public backlash ensued, but Sprovieri wouldn’t back down from his words or offer an apology to those offended. “Was it a poor choice of words? I don’t believe so,” he said during an interview with CityNews after the release of the email. “Maybe it doesn’t sound good, but really I don’t see how it’s incorrect. It may be improper, possibly, but it’s certainly not incorrect.”
Sprovieri took to Twitter last week to defend his position on the issue and is putting much of the blame on the mayor, stating she mayor didn’t help the situation, but inflamed the whole matter based on the way the public is reacting.
While most councillors have remained silent on the issue, a few have responded.
Mayor Linda Jeffrey denounced Sprvovieri’s statement saying the “insensitive language” used by this particular councillor to express his point was “not an isolated incident”.
Councillor Elaine Moore says the constituent has been sending inflammatory emails for months and they should have been ignored. “I wish Councillor Sprovieri had never responded to emails that were not worthy of a response; however he did and I wish he had chosen his words more carefully.”
Councillor Grant Gibson echoed some of the same sentiments by stating that he has knows Councillor Sprovieri is deeply committed to his constituents. He also went on to say, “unfortunately his remarks were insensitive. I do not believe that John’s comments reflect the views of Council.”
Councillor Martin Medeiros said, “the words he used were insensitive towards the diverse groups that make up our community and very much so to the indigenous population. I respect him for his years of service, but his comments are not reflective of what we stand for in the city of Brampton. I know he won’t take back his words but I hope he takes the time to reflect on them.”
Councillor Sprovieri represents an area that’s 60% South Asian. His colleague, Councillor Fortini, maintains his fellow councillor has always helped all of his constituents. “Sometimes you have to watch your words. He just made the mistake of using those words and its now getting back to him.”
The rest of Brampton’s Councillors — Doug Whillans, Gael Miles, Michael Palleschi, Jeff Bowman, Pat Fortini and Gurpreet Dhillon —have not responded to requests for comments.
Councillor Sprovieri doesn’t seem concerned by the complaint or possible investigation by the integrity commissioner. Currently, Brampton’s code of conduct doesn’t address this issue. This is also not the first time this councillor has been scrutinized.
In October of 2015 Sprovieri was under investigation by the integrity commissioner for leaking sensitive information to media outlets that could have jeopardized the city’s $28 million legal battle with local development company Inzola. The integrity commissioner recommended Sprovieri be docked 3 months’ pay, but he was given a slap on the wrist instead.
The most recent reports claim Sprovieri’s remarks violate human rights. Since the rules around the language he used are vague, it isn’t clear how the integrity commissioner will deal with the issue.