Five months after a Niagara Falls resident filed a code of conduct complaint against Coun. Carolynn Ioannoni, the veteran politician has been cleared by the city’s integrity commissioner.
A report to be presented to city council Tuesday said Frank De Luca alleged Ioannoni “disparaged other members of council through her words in a media interview and in subsequent social media posts related to same.”
“I wish to advise you that I have now completed my investigation into this complaint and have determined that no contravention of the city’s code of conduct was committed by the councillor with respect to the matters raised in the complaint,” said integrity commissioner Edward McDermott in a letter addressed to city clerk Bill Matson.
“There was nothing in her comments which can be classified as objectively dishonest, untrue, offensive, disrespectful, nor did any of her comments constitute harassment, nor were any of them defamatory or misleading,” McDermott added.
The October 2020 complaint stemmed from comments made by Ioannoni in a Sept. 3 story in Niagara This Week.
Titled “#HerSay: Cracking the ‘old boys club’ at Niagara Falls council,” the story was part of a series on gender and politics in Niagara.
In the story, Ioannoni commented on her more than 20 years on council and her numerous run-ins with male councillors and mayors.
“Misogyny is alive and well in Niagara politics,” she was quoted, adding, “it’s hard being on an old boys club council in Niagara Falls.”
Last October, city councillors voted against filing a complaint in regards to the remarks.
After reviewing the integrity commissioner’s findings from the De Luca complaint, Ioannoni said she wasn’t sure how McDermott would rule. She said she stands behind her comments.
“It’s like death by 1,000 cuts,” said Ioannoni of her time in politics. “It’s the little things, it’s the cutting you off, it is making you feel small. It is discarding your recommendations and then accepting the same recommendations from a man.”
“Why would any woman want to run for Niagara Falls city council? So we have to make it a fair, more respectful playing field because that’s not what we have right now,” she said.
In addition to the code of conduct complaint, De Luca filed a conflict of interest complaint. He alleged that Ioannoni failed to declare a conflict during a Sept. 15 council meeting.
“We do not find that Ioannoni failed to declare her pecuniary interest,” said McDermott.
De Luca also alleged that Ioannoni failed to file the “necessary written declaration of her pecuniary interest with the clerk.”
McDermott found that a technical breach of the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act was committed by Ioannoni through “inadvertence on her part.”
“We find the respondent councillor did, by her own admission, fail to file the necessary written declaration of her pecuniary interest in accordance with the provisions of Section 5.1 of the MCIA, and is accordingly in breach of that act,” he said.
However, McDermott said while failure to submit the necessary paperwork is contrary to the MCIA, he found “in these circumstances that it represents a ‘technical’ breach; something which is more probably rooted in forgetfulness than sinister design.”
Sean Vanderklis is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter for the Niagara Falls Review, covering education issues across Niagara. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative.
Sean Vanderklis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Niagara Falls Review