City of Brampton set to rehire whistleblower fired after bombshell allegations against Patrick Brown, CAO

·6 min read

In a strange twist, whistleblower Gurdeep (Nikki) Kaur is set to be rehired by the City of Brampton after she lodged damning allegations of corruption, bullying, racism and nepotism against senior staff members.

Kaur was contacted to confirm that the City, under direction from Council, is rehiring her. She said she could not comment at this time.

Her accusation alleges Mayor Patrick Brown used City resources including staff who don’t even work in his office to campaign for former federal Conservative leadership candidate Peter MacKay.

Kaur was fired on the afternoon of April 22, hours after she emailed the allegations to hundreds of staff, members of council and some media outlets.

The City, Brown and other staff members named in Kaur's allegations deny any wrongdoing and refute her claims.

Her termination letter, signed by Barrick, states her time with the City ended “as a result of your failure to accept the transfer to the position of Strategic Leader, Planning, Building & Economic Development Projects.” A copy of the letter was obtained by The Pointer.

Barrick also claimed in his termination letter that Kaur’s decision to seek nomination for the next federal election was a violation of the “Corporation Employee Code of Conduct and Conflict of Interest Policy.”

It’s unclear how the City could prevent any staff member from running for office and how this is even legally possible, as the right to do so is constitutionally protected. Kaur, a lawyer who also has experience in finance, told The Pointer Barrick had the policies changed after she informed him of her intention to seek public office.

Three sources confirmed Kaur will be offered a director-level job after Council last week ordered staff to rehire her. If she accepts the position it will not be in the role as director of corporate projects and liaison which reported to Barrick.

It’s unclear if Mayor Patrick Brown was involved in the decision to rehire her. Kaur levelled damning allegations against Brown, providing evidence he used City resources to help MacKay’s unsuccessful bid to win the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada last year.

Kaur shared text messages with The Pointer showing Brown directed City Staff, including Kaur, to work on MacKay’s campaign on and immediately around May 11, 2020.

“Please sign up membership before May 15 to support to Peter McKay (sic)”, Brown instructed Kaur on May 11.

Another message gives Kaur specific orders: “Meet membership sellers and then do meet and greets with members after the membership deadline is over.”

Then: “Let’s aim for 10’to 20 membership sellers. People who can do a minimum of 100 each.” Brown was attempting to sell Conservative Party memberships through the local riding association in Hamilton-Stoney Creek.

The next text to Kaur followed soon after: “Very low turnout”.

Then, “Can you go there with Rob tomorrow night and Tuesday night and collect ballots. Knock on their doors.”

Kaur replied, asking, “Which Rob?”

“Rob Dambosie (sic)”, Brown immediately texted back.

“We need Stoney creek for peter.”

Then: “We have found people give ballots when we door knock them”.

MacKay visited City Hall last year, filling up a boardroom space to meet with roughly two-dozen business people from the South Asian community.

Brown told The Pointer last month such visits were normal.

“As for Peter Mackay, he visited me at City Hall. We welcome all parties at City Hall who want to learn about our policy perspectives. Liberal Steven Del Duca visited my team at City Hall when he was running for leader and wanted feedback on his healthcare plan. The NDP federal candidates also visited me at City Hall to learn about our Brampton agenda. The Green Party leader Mike Schreiner also visited me at City Hall to learn about our climate agenda. No taxpayer funds were used for any of these visits.”

He failed to explain why he gave staff, who don’t work in the mayor’s office, direction to do campaign work for MacKay.

Brown led the committee that hired Barrick as the City’s top bureaucrat despite his lack of experience leading even a small municipal department. The former Port Colborne councillor has no experience working in even a mid-size city, much less one the size of Brampton, Canada’s ninth largest municipality.

Once in Brampton, Barrick worked to secure contracts for political allies, including a $300,000 contract to Brett Bell to develop plans for a Municipal Development Corporation. Bell is a longtime Progressive Conservative Party associate of Brown, the former Ontario PC Party leader, and the two have a relationship spanning the past two decades.

Kaur told The Pointer Barrick gave her instruction to only email Bell to do the work, providing text messages sent to her by the CAO on January 7, 2020.

The texts show the CAO sent Kaur the name of Bell’s company and his email address. “Contact: Brett Bell,” he writes in one text, and then “Thank You!”

Bell did not have a registered company at the time and it was only incorporated after he was contacted by Kaur on Barrick’s direction. The Pointer reported on the questionable procurement process in February and Bell confirmed the City contacted him on January 9, 2020. The company was incorporated on January 11, 2020, two days after the City reached out to him.

Immediately after The Pointer sent questions to City staff in January inquiring about Bell’s hiring, Barrick sent Kaur a message stating “Mayor had nothing to do with it”. A copy of the message, dated January 18, 2021, the day before The Pointer’s article was published, was shared by Kaur.

Kaur previously told The Pointer Barrick’s attempts to move her out of her previous job was to silence her.

“This move was done to cover up so I would not speak and this would go away but this [is] abuse of authority and misuse of public funds. This is a clear breach of my rights and abuse of the process,” she said at the time.

Her allegations against senior staff include accusations of racist attitudes against Black employees, hiring unqualified employees and misconduct in the awarding of City contracts. The City and staff deny all the allegations.

A second special council meeting on the matter is set to take place Wednesday, after Council committed to a full investigation into Kaur’s damning allegations following Barrick’s decision to fire her.

Email: nida.zafar@thepointer.com

Twitter: @nida_zafar

Tel: 416 890-7643

COVID-19 is impacting all Canadians. At a time when vital public information is needed by everyone, The Pointer has taken down our paywall on all stories relating to the pandemic and those of public interest to ensure every resident of Brampton and Mississauga has access to the facts. For those who are able, we encourage you to consider a subscription. This will help us report on important public interest issues the community needs to know about now more than ever. You can register for a 30-day free trial HERE. Thereafter, The Pointer will charge $10 a month and you can cancel any time right on the website. Thank you.

Nida Zafar, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Pointer

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting