August 10, 2022
(Photo: Councillors Fortini, Bowman and Medeiros)
The Bramptonist has prepared a 4-part series on The Dhillon Affair. Part 1 of the series focused on the audio recording of an incident in a Turkey hotel room, where the victim pleads to Brampton Councillor Gurpreet Dhillon to “stop” 13 times and says “no” 74 times. Part 2 below focuses on the associated legal cases related to the affair.
Former Brampton’s Integrity Commissioner Muneeza Sheikh received a sexual misconduct complaint from a Brampton business woman. In her report, the Integrity Commissioner concluded that Councillor Dhillon sexually harassed the complainant. In specific, the report stated that Councillor Dhillon engaged in unnecessary, unwelcome, and unwanted sexual touching of the complainant; pleaded with the complainant to have sex with him and even suggested that he would “put a timer on”; and demanded that the complainant ‘kiss him’.
After saying “stop” 13 times and “no” 74 times, Dhillon eventually left.
Dhillon has denied all allegations of sexual misconduct against him.
The whole affair has generated several legal cases:
- Councillor Dhillon filed a judicial review;
- The victim launched a civil lawsuit against Councillor Dhillon and the City of Brampton; and
- The former Integrity Commissioner launched a wrongful dismissal and defamation lawsuit against six City Councillors and the City of Brampton.
In one of the lawsuits, ignoring pecuniary interests, a Gang of Six Councillors voted to have their legal defence paid for by Brampton’s taxpayers.
The Judicial Review
After the Integrity Commissioner tabled her report to Council, Councillor Dhillon filed a judicial review of the report in Ontario Superior court. He sought a court order to quash the Integrity Commissioner’s Report or the associated findings that he contravened the Code of Conduct. Councillor Dhillon also requested a court order to quash some of the resolutions passed by Council in reprimanding him.
A 3-panel judgement went against Councillor Dhillon and dismissed the quashing requests. On behalf of the panel, Justice Kristjanson wrote, “In terms of the issues, the focus of the material and oral argument, the City and the Integrity Commissioner were almost entirely successful, except for one minor aspect of the City’s Resolution to which little time was devoted either in the written materials or in oral argument. I exercise my discretion to order the Councillor to pay costs to the City in the amount of $20,000.00, inclusive and costs to the Integrity Commissioner of $20,000.00, inclusive.
The Bramptonist asked Councillor Dhillon if he paid the court order costs. He did not respond. The Bramptonist also asked CAO Paul Morrison if the City received payment, and similar to Dhillon, CAO Morrison did not respond.
The Civil Lawsuit Against Councillor Dhillon and the City of Brampton
The victim, a Brampton business woman, filed a lawsuit naming both Councillor Dhillon and the City of Brampton related to the reported sexual harassment.
At a Council meeting last week, Councillor Dhillon admitted that the lawsuit between the victim and himself was settled out-of-court. No other details of the settlement were disclosed.
The City of Brampton also settled the case out-of-court between the victim and the corporation. However, the decision to settle the case was made by city staff and not by Council. Apparently, staff within legislative services, under the leadership of the Commissioner of Legislative Services (Paul Morrison), approved the settlement.
After this settlement was reached, the CAO was terminated and Paul Morrison became the new senior administrator.
Mayor Patrick Brown called the city’s settlement “hush payments”, where the victim is silenced with the utilization of a non-disclosure agreement in order to receive the cash amount. After learning of the settlement, Mayor Brown introduced several motions at Council related to the affair.
One of the motions was to have Councillor Dhillon pay back the amount to settle the victim’s case against the City. Another motion was to reveal the details of the city’s settlement. And a third motion was tabled for Council to be informed and approve any future harassment cases.
For each motion, the vote ended in a 5-5 vote, thereby all three motions failed
Councillor Dhillon voted against each motion, ignoring warnings from the Mayor that he may be in violation of law for pecuniary interest. Councillor Dhillon was supported by Councillors Pat Fortini, Martin Medeiros, Jeff Bowman and Doug Whillans, by registering votes in the negative of the motions.
The Integrity Commissioner Lawsuit
Brampton’s former Integrity Commissioner Muneeza Sheikh has filed a $20 million dollar lawsuit against specific Councillors and the City of Brampton. Sheikh is seeking $3 million each from Councillors Dhillon, Fortini, Medeiros, Bowman, Whillans, and former Councillor Charmaine Williams. She is suing Councillor Fortini for an additional $75,000 in damages for defamation. Against the City, Sheikh is seeking $2 million.
In her statement of claim, Sheikh cites she was dismissed for doing her job, which involved investigating the same Councillors who voted to terminate her employment. Given that these same Councillors had a pecuniary interest, Sheikh claims the vote to dismiss her was illegal.
These same Councillors named in the lawsuit voted to have their legal costs paid for by taxpayers. They said that the Integrity Commissioner was fired because of her legal bills were too high. However, Section 223.3 of the Municipal Act states that a municipality shall indemnify and save harmless the Commissioner for costs reasonably incurred in the course of their work.
Overall, the conduct of specific Councillors at Brampton Council will significantly cost local taxpayers. In addition to the amounts claimed by the litigators, taxpayers will be on the hook for all the legal costs in defence of the actions.
- The Dhillon Affair Part 1: The Transcript of “No” and “STOP”
- The Dhillon Affair Part 2: The Legal Cases
- The Dhillon Affair Part 3: Enabling Council Allies
- The Dhillon Affair Part 4: Silent Provincial Legislation