A conflict-of-interest probe involving Rob Ford should continue even if the mayor not is at City Hall, say two veteran members of city council.
Integrity commissioner Janet Leiper suspended her investigation of the mayor this month after Mr. Ford took a leave to seek help for alcohol abuse, The Globe and Mail has learned. The inquiry, initiated in January after a citizen complaint, is examining allegations the mayor violated council’s code of conduct by using city-paid staff and resources for personal benefit. Lawyer Tim Gleason, who is representing the resident who lodged the complaint, wants the probe widened to include the mayor’s brother Councillor Doug Ford as well as new evidence uncovered by The Globe and Mail that the pair helped a client of their family business lobby senior city managers.
Councillor Pam McConnell, an opponent of the mayor who was bowled over by him on the council floor last year during an especially raucous meeting, said even though Mr. Ford has taken a leave, he continues to hold office. The investigation should continue and it should include Doug Ford, she said.
“Whether or not the mayor is on leave, his brother is still here and the mayor is still the mayor and he is still a member of council,” she said Tuesday. “The integrity commissioner should determine if this is influence peddling and if it is, it should be sent to the police.”
Councillor Janet Davis said she is surprised the probe was suspended since the mayor has indicated he intends to return.
“Unless it turns out to be otherwise, the integrity commissioner’s work should continue,” she said.
Ms. Leiper said in an interview Tuesday that she is constrained about what she can say about any investigation because of provisions of the City of Toronto Act and her own practice of not commenting publicly on her probes before they are concluded. She declined to confirm whether she had launched an investigation or if it had been suspended.
Speaking generally, she said it is an essential part of every investigation to interview and question members of council that are the subject of a complaint. “They know at times what was going on in their mind. They are an important participant,” she said.
An investigation by The Globe and Mail shows Mayor Ford and his brother facilitated meetings with Toronto’s most senior bureaucrats in the months after they took office, intervening on behalf of Apollo Health and Beauty Care on a range of issues from stop signs to tax breaks. Apollo has been a client of the Ford family’s business, Deco Label and Tags Inc., for more than a decade, a fact city staff say they were never told by the mayor and his brother.
The original complaint to the integrity commissioner was based in part on an earlier investigation by The Globe that revealed the mayor called senior staff to a meeting at the Apollo plant about a sewage-spill investigation.