Ottawa city council will decide Wednesday whether to mete out one of the harshest penalties of its kind ever imposed in Ontario against Coun. Rick Chiarelli, accused of inappropriate behaviour toward female job applicants.
Council will consider a damning report by integrity commissioner Robert Marleau, who found Chairelli violated the code of conduct in his comportment during three job interviews — behaviour Marleau said qualifies as harassment under several city policies.
Marleau is recommending council approve the harshest penalty available: suspending Chiarelli's salary for 90 days for each complaint, for a total of more than $79,000.
Council is likely to approve the recommendation unanimously. Mayor Jim Watson told reporters Monday that he supports the sanction, and many other councillors have told CBC they plan to vote in favour.
The mayor and other councillors are also expected to comment on the report, and on whether harsher penalties should be available when it comes to elected officials who are found to have behaved inappropriately. Currently, councillors cannot be forced to resign.
Councillors could also learn more about when the integrity commissioner expects to release a second report on allegations against Chiarelli, this one based on formal complaints from two former employees.
Related to the Chiarelli allegations, which were first reported by CBC last fall, council will also consider new hiring guidelines for councillors' assistants, as well as additional protection for political staffers.
During an earlier committee discussion, councillors heard that councillors' assistants are worried they'll lose their jobs if they speak out.
Secret update on LRT legal disputes
The last council agenda before the summer break has traditionally been a hefty one, and this year's mid-July meeting is no exception. The meeting is starting at 9 a.m., an hour earlier than usual.
Wednesday will also see a behind-closed-doors update to councillors on the city's ongoing legal and financial dispute with Rideau Transit Group (RTG), the builders of the faltering Confederation Line.
The city hasn't paid the consortium since last November, when it sent a $4.5-million cheque to RTG for September service. In March, the city issued RTG a formal letter of default, claiming the consortium hadn't lived up to its obligations in the contract.
This will also be the first time council can discuss as a group the Transportation Safety Board's move to launch a formal investigation into several cracked wheels on the Alstom Citadis Spirit trains that run on the Confederation Line.
RTG has told the city it will have 15 trains running on Aug. 4, even though service has been sporadic this month, with as few as seven trains operating at a time.
It's unclear what the public will be told about the in-camera discussion regarding the LRT contract.
Bylaws, by-election and boundaries
Among the other items on Wednesday's busy agenda:
In addition, there are several motions on the table, and there could be more added at the last moment.
One, from Coun. Mathieu Fleury, calls for the province to consider the concentration of pot shops in one area when approving new licences for cannabis retailers. The motion is in response to concerns there are too many cannabis retailers opening in the ByWard Market.
Check cbc.ca/ottawa for updates and follow our city hall reporters @KatePorterCBC and @jchianello for up-to-the-minute updates.