June 22, 2022
(Photo: Former Councillor Elaine Moore and current Councillor Gurpreet Dhillon)
Brampton Councillor Gurpreet Dhillon took to the radio in an attempt to explain the actions of his Gang of Six, a group of City Councillors ruling the City with an iron fist. However when asked repeatedly by the radio show’s host, refused to answer questions on cronyism. Prior to calling the radio talk show, Dhillon was listening to an interview with Mayor Patrick Brown on why the Mayor abstained from attending a Council meeting.
Mayor Patrick Brown was on Newstalk 1010 with radio host Mark Towhey to explain that Brampton City Council should not appoint an individual to a vacant Council seat “outside the Municipal Act”. The Mayor further explained that he has approached the province for a definitive interpretation of the Act, because Dhillon and his Council allies (Pat Fortini, Martin Medeiros, Jeff Bowman, Doug Whillans and Charmaine Williams) dismissed the advice received from both the city clerk and the city lawyer. In ignoring the advice, the Gang of Six pre-appointed Elaine Moore prior to the Council seat becoming vacant.
Dhillon called the radio station. Radio host Mark Towhey, who has significant experience in the municipal sector, told Dhillon that normally when a Council seat becomes vacant, the municipality declares the seat vacant prior to considering how to make the appointment to fill the vacancy. He then stated to Dhillon, “You short circuited all of that and appointed one of your cronies”.
When Dhillon refused to answer, Mark Towhey pressed, “…answer my question, this is cronyism isn’t it?” Dhillon retorted, “You can call it cronyism”, and then tried to side step the issue by claiming that specific Councillors abstained from the meeting to block investigations generated by the Gang of Six themselves.
In a media release to the public, Mayor Brown and four other Councillors (Paul Vicente, Harkirat Singh, Rowena Santos and Michael Palleschi) wrote, “Ontario municipal legislation requires that Council wait until an empty seat is declared vacant before making a decision on how to fill it” and that is why they abstained from the meeting.
After refusing to answer questions about cronyism, Mark Towhey then asked Dhillon on why he fired the city lawyer over his advice on how to fill the vacancy. Dhillon responded, “We fired the city solicitor because, he is not following the Municipal Act, he is not given the correct information, he was given a one-sided tilted advice for five particular Councillors”.
Mark Towhey then asked Dhillon “Do you fire all city staff that you don’t like?”. Again, Dhillon evaded in answering the specific question.
Turning Foes Into Allies For Political Power
It is curious how five Brampton Councillors (Pat Fortini, Martin Medeiros, Jeff Bowman, Doug Whillans and Charmaine Williams) are now completely aligned with Dhillon.
Earlier in the Council term, these same Councillors unanimously requested Dhillon to resign.
As concluded by Brampton’s Integrity Commissioner Muneeza Sheikh, Councillor Gurpreet Dhillon was engaged in sexual misconduct with a Brampton business woman while on city business. Based on the report, Brampton Council imposed a 90-day suspension to Dhillon (the maximum penalty they could impose by law) and requested him to immediately resign. In turn, Dhillon refused to resign and launched a legal challenge.
A 3-judge Ontario court panel upheld the investigative process and response from the Integrity Commissioner and City Council. Dhillon was ordered by the Courts to reimburse the Integrity Commissioner $20,000 for his unsuccessful legal challenge. He was also order to pay $20,000 to the City of Brampton.
Today, the five Councillors (Pat Fortini, Martin Medeiros, Jeff Bowman, Doug Whillans and Charmaine Williams) embrace Dhillon as an ally to form a majority voting block at Council.
With their voting block, this Gang of Six then fired the Integrity Commissioner and installed their own person who is responsible for overseeing Council’s behaviour. And when they didn’t like the advice of the City lawyer, they fired him too. They also fired the Chief Administrative Officer even though a $500,000 independent forensic audit found the CAO engaged in no wrongdoing.
It appears cronyism is alive and well in Brampton, which can turn a Councillor – who was investigated to have engaged in sexual misconduct – into a political ally.
And the Gang of Six sent a message to staff, if you disagree with them, you can expect to be fired and replaced.