Integrity Commissioner says Ford Brothers Violated Code of Conduct
On the second anniversary of his election as Mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford has found himself in trouble with the city's integrity commissioner, along with his brother, Councillor Doug Ford.
Janet Leiper has found that both breached council's code of conduct for comments made April 29th on Newstalk 1010's The City.
The Ford's (along with other councillors) were discussing a report from Medical Officer of Health Dr. David McKeown recommending lower speed limits as a way to keep cyclists and pedestrians safe.
While they blasted the report Mayor Ford called McKeown's salary an embarrassment and promised to look into it and 'try and straighten things out,' Councillor Ford meanwhile, asked twice, why the doctor still has a job.
Janet Leiper is currently recommending that council find that the mayor breached the code, and reprimand the councillor for comments made on Newstalk 1010's the City back in April.
The mayor issued a retraction letter, but the councillor who filed the complaint says it's no apology.
"Because somebody calls it a retraction letter doesn't make it such," says John Filion. "It does more of the same. It attempts to spin it as if it's about something else, rather than the attack on the medical officer of health himself."
Filion says the Fords can criticize recommendations made in a report, but can't get personal.
"That kind of conduct, if it continues, will destroy (city hall). And I don't think that's much of an exaggeration."
The integrity commission says both Rob and Doug Ford claim their comments were not malicious with the Mayor telling Janet Leiper he was just giving his opinion and standing up for Toronto residents.
"Taxpayers do not want Toronto Public Health freelancing in public transportation policy or even public safety issues, he said."
Doug Ford tells Newstalk 1010 that he was simply raising the concerns of constituents who were upset about the cost of the study. He says when you are passionate about something, sometimes the wrong words come out.
"They do and they have over the past couple of years, but it's about passion, it's about respecting the taxpayer."
"We're going to have to agree to disagree on (Dr. David McKeown) doing the $60,000 dollar transportation study," he says. "But if I offended him, I apologize."
In her finding on the Mayor's comments Leiper writes:
Article XII of the Code of Conduct requires members of Council to "be respectful of the role of staff to provide advice based on political neutrality and objectivity and without undue influence from any individual member or faction of the Council. Accordingly, no member shall maliciously or falsely injure the professional or ethical reputation of the prospects or practice of staff, and all members shall show respect for the professional capacities of staff." The Mayor breached Article XII of the Code of Conduct by demeaning the professional reputation of the MOH (Medical Officer of Health) on the radio broadcast. The Mayor called the salary paid to the MOH an "embarrassment." This unfairly demeans his professional capabilities and is therefore a breach of Article XII.
In her finding on Councillor Ford's comments Leiper writes:
In the absence of an apology, Council must uphold the importance of these principles. The City of Toronto Act, 2006 permits Council to impose sanctions, including a reprimand or suspension of remuneration for up to 90 days. The Code of Conduct further provides for additional penalties including a request for an apology. I recommend that Council impose a reprimand to express the view of Council that the words spoken by Councillor Ford were a breach of the Code of Conduct.
The Ford brothers weren't the only members of council that had the attention of Leiper.
The integrity commissioner also found that Councillor Michelle Berardinetti violated the code of conduct for comments on public radio. Berardinetti was found to have broken the rules in November 2011 for what she said about a staff member at the Toronto Zoo when talking about sending elephants to California.
Berardinetti has apologized and Leiper is recommending no further action.
(With files from Dave Bradley)