The results of an investigation into potential conflict of interest by Rob and Doug Ford will not be made public before next month's election, the city's new integrity commissioner says.
In late June, ethics watchdog Democracy Watch filed a complaint with the integrity commissioner's office alleging Mayor Rob Ford and brother Doug Ford tried to improperly lobby city staff on behalf of clients of Deco, the Ford family business. Valerie Jepson took over the role of integrity commissioner earlier this month.
In recent weeks, Democracy Watch founder Duff Conacher has publicly urged Ms. Jepson to wrap up her investigation and make the findings public before the Oct. 27 election.
But in a letter sent to Mr. Conacher this week, Ms. Jepson said that "I am mindful of the upcoming election and that both complainants and respondents are keen to have certainty as to the status of formal complaints that been filed with this office. At this time, I do not anticipate completing any investigations between now and election day."
In an interview Friday, Mr. Conacher called Ms. Jepson "negligent," saying "when a complaint concerns one of the candidates in the election, then it only increases the voter's right to know."
The integrity commissioner's code of conduct states that all findings of an investigation be reported to council – which doesn't meet again until next year. But it also states that before that, "the city clerk shall give a copy of the report to the complainant and the member whose conduct is concerned."
In a statement posted to her website Friday, Ms. Jepson said: "At this time, I will follow the past practices of the Office of the Integrity Commissioner for Toronto and issue reports about breaches of the Code of Conduct only to a sitting City Council."
Because of this, Mr. Conacher said Ms. Jepson's response "amounts to negligence, because she's rewriting a rule – first of all, there is nothing in the protocol that says she can only report to a sitting council."
In an e-mail, Ms. Jepson declined to respond to Mr. Conacher's statements.
Mr. Conacher said the group is considering the possibility of challenging the decision through the provincial courts.
Over the past year, The Globe and Mail has reported several instances in which Rob and Doug – who is running for mayor in place of his brother, who is in hospital undergoing treatment for a rare form of cancer – have helped Deco clients lobby city staff.
In response, Rob Ford has denied any wrongdoing by saying "no one, but no one, can buy the Fords" – adding that they help any businesses that approach them.
The Municipal Conflict of Interest Act governs the behaviour of elected officials in council, but does not forbid them from acting on matters in which they have a financial interest outside the chamber.
Earlier this month, The Globe revealed that in his first year as mayor, Rob Ford's office asked city staff to look into expropriating land so Deco client Apollo Health and Beauty Care could add more parking space. In response, Mayor Ford said earlier this month "I did not try to expropriate land – expropriate land – do anything of the sort for Apollo."
The Globe has also reported two other instances in which Rob and Doug Ford attempted to help lobby staff on behalf of Apollo. In late July, The Globe also revealed that the Ford brothers attempted to help RR Donnelley – another client of Deco's – bid for a printing contract with the city.
With a report from Greg McArthur