Brampton’s Integrity Commissioner reported that Brampton Councillor Gurpreet Dhillon engaged in “inappropriate sexual misconduct” in a hotel room in Turkey, while travelling on city business. Today, a judicial review of the matter concluded that the City’s Integrity Commissioner acted reasonable in her conclusions.
It is time for Regional Council to deal with the matter.
June 11, 2021 (3 Minute Read)
In addition to reporting that Brampton Councillor Gurpreet Dhillon engaged in “inappropriate sexual misconduct”, the Integrity Commissioner further reported that if she had the authority, she would have recommended that Councillor Gurpreet Dhillon be “dismissed” as a Councillor.
Given that Council cannot remove an elected official from office, City Council passed a unanimous resolution asking Dhillon to resign. In response, Dhillon denied all the allegations and initiated a judicial review of the Integrity Commissioner’s report and Council’s actions.
The Decision of the Judicial Review
Justice Freya Kristjanson released her decision today, concurred by Justices MacLeod and Favreau. The decision was based on questions posed to the court by Dhillon’s lawyers:
- Did the Integrity Commissioner properly commence the investigation of Councillor Dhillon?
Justice Kristjanson wrote, “The Integrity Commissioner’s decision to open an investigation as she did was reasonable.”
2. Did the Integrity Commissioner deny Councillor Dhillon procedural fairness?
Justice Kristjanson wrote, “There was no denial of procedural fairness.”
3. Were the Integrity Commissioner’s findings in her Final Report reasonable?
Justice Kristjanson wrote, “(Integrity Commissioner) findings were reasonable and supported by the evidence before her” and “The Integrity Commissioner’s finding of Councillor Dhillon’s sexual misconduct – made on a balance of probabilities, and in absence of any explanation or substantive comments whatsoever from Councillor Dhillon – was reasonable.”
4. Were the penalties recommended by the Integrity Commissioner, and imposed by Council, authorized by the Municipal Act?
Justice Kristjanson wrote, “I agree that with one exception, these measures were reasonable and within the City’s jurisdiction. They were responsive to the misconduct in question, have remedial rather than punitive characteristics, strive to redress the harm caused by Councillor Dhillon’s misconduct, and seek provide a way to prevent a recurrence of Councillor Dhillon’s conduct.”
At issue, is that City Council imposed a limitation for Councillor Dhillon to communicate with constituents only by electronic means (such as email). Council will now have to change this limitation. All other Council actions were reasonable.
The Justices than ordered Councillor Dhillon to pay the City $20,000 and another $20,000 to the Integrity Commissioner.
What Happens Next?
Councillor Gurpreet Dhillion needs to pay the City and the Integrity Commissioner $20,000 each as ordered by the courts.
City Council needs to reconsider their original motion, which imposed remediation against Councillor Dhillon, and change 4(c) of their motion to reflect a greater defined communication process between Dhillon and his constituents.
City Council could also send the matter to Peel Region Council and ask for immediate action in response to the Integrity Commissioner’s report and the decision of the judicial review. Dhillon was also elected as a Regional Councillor, and Peel Region has yet to act on the actions their colleague.
City Council could also send the Integrity Commissioner’s report to the provincial government, where they are actively reviewing municipal council’s Code of Conduct. As the current legislation reads, city staff can be fired for violating corporate policies, but Councillors cannot be terminated.
Or…Councillor Dhillon could resign immediately.