“Hush Payments” in Sexual Harrassment Lawsuit Infuriates Mayor Brown

August 3, 2022

(Photo: Brampton City Hall)

In a remarkable disclosure yesterday, Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown claimed taxpayers’ money was used as “hush payments” in order to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit involving Councillor Gurpreet Dhillon.

Both Councillor Dhillon and CAO Paul Morrison have refused to answer questions about the lawsuit’s settlement. Both also refused to answer questions if Dhillon paid the $20,000 to the Integrity Commissioner and $20,000 to the City as previously ordered by the courts.

The Case

In 2019, Brampton Councillor Gurpreet Dhillon travelled to Turkey on a city sponsored economic business trip. He encountered a Brampton business woman who was on the same trip. The Brampton business woman would later claim that Councillor Dhillon sexually harassed her at the hotel.

According to a report from the City’s Integrity Commissioner, Councillor Dhillon made many sexual advances towards the Brampton business woman while in Turkey. The victim said “no” to Dhillon 74 times, as he proceeded to lift her skirt. The assault was recorded on the victim’s cell phone and transcribed in the IC report.

Thereafter, Dhillon filed a judicial review in Ontario courts challenging the Integrity Commissioner’s report and the subsequent punishment from City Council. Due to limitations of provincial legislation, City Council could only issue the maximum penalty and suspended Dhillon’s Council pay for 90-days. A 3-judge panel dismissed Dhillon’s legal challenge upholding the Integrity Commissioner report and Council’s actions.

Council unanimously asked Dhillon to resign. Former Councillor Charmaine Williams made a dramatic public display and asked Dhillon to resign 74 times, representing the number of times the victim said “no” to Dhillon’s advances.

The Brampton business woman would later file a lawsuit against Councillor Dhillon and the City of Brampton.

Hush Payments

Two weeks ago, sources close to The Bramptonist claimed that Councillor Dhillon reached an undisclosed, out-of-court, settlement with his victim. The Bramptonist reached out to Dhillon to ask him about the settlement, in addition to, determine if he had paid both the Integrity Commissioner and the City the $20,000 respectively. Dhillon did not answer.

The Bramptonist also reached out to CAO Paul Morrison if the City reached a settlement with Dhillon’s victim. Morrison was also asked if Dhillon had paid the City the $20,000 as ordered by the courts. Similar to Dhillon, Morrison did not answer the inquiries.

Yesterday, Mayor Patrick Brown indicated a whistleblower contacted his office to claim that the City reached a settlement with Dhillon’s victim. Brown revealed that $18,000 was paid to the victim, and that the City spent $43,000 in the associated legal fees and arbitration costs. Furthermore, he expressed his anger with the fact that city staff did not inform City Council on the matter.

At the time of the settlement, Paul Morrison was the Acting Commissioner of Legislative Services that would oversee the City’s legal and risk department. According to the timeline, Dhillon participated in the vote to fire the previous CAO and appoint Morrison as Acting CAO.

Dhillon’s Allies

Even though Council unanimously asked Dhillon to resign, some of the Councillors would later team up with Dhillon to form a cabal and represent a majority vote on Council. This included Charmaine Williams, even though she had previously asked Dhillon to resign 74 times over his reported sexual misconduct. Council would typically split votes along a 6-5 margin.

Ironically, former Councillor Charmaine Williams is now the Associate Minister of Women’s Social and Economic Opportunity in the provincial government.

With Dhillon as an ally representing the balance of power, Councillors Pat Fortini and Martin Medeiros self-appointed themselves as Deputy Mayors. The Gang of Six (Pat Fortini, Martin Medeiros, Jeff Bowman, Doug Whillans, Charmaine Williams and Gurpreet Dhillon) would fire the CAO, the Integrity Commissioner, and the City Solicitor in a hostile takeover of Council.

When Charmaine Williams entered the provincial election, the Gang of Six feared losing their majority power, so they attempted to pre-appoint former Councillor Elaine Moore to Council in the event Williams won. Previously, Elaine Moore was active on social media publishing social media messages that were critical of Mayor Brown.

Councillor Harkirat Singh legally challenged the Gang of Six’s pre-appointment. Without direction of Council, city staff under the leadership of Paul Morrison, hired outside lawyers to counter Councillor Singh and defend the pre-appointment motion. Upon hearing the evidence, Justice Doi of Ontario Superior Court ruled the pre-appointment illegal.

What’s Next?

Mayor Brown has called a Special Meeting for this Friday to receive answers from staff on the lawsuit settlement with Dhillon’s victim.

It is unknown if quorum will be achieved for the Council meeting to proceed. Since the Ontario courts ordered the pre-appointment of Elaine Moore as illegal, the Gang of Six (minus Charmaine Williams) have boycotted all Council meetings.

Bramptonist Staff: