MAMMOLITI: Integrity commissioner — or political attack dog?

BY GIORGIO MAMMOLITI, Special to the Toronto Sun

Who is watching the watchdog?

When the City of Toronto established the Office of the Integrity Commissioner, one of the biggest concerns was that it would devolve into a vehicle for political adversaries to attack members of council.

With the sole discretion to decide which complaints would be investigated, the integrity commissioner holds the power to make or break political careers. For that reason, the office is required to be apolitical and non-partisan. Unfortunately, that does not appear to be the case.

In fact, there appears to be a consistent pattern with the exercise of the powers of the integrity commissioner along decidedly partisan and political lines.

In addition, I note that commissioner Valerie Jepson has repeatedly pursued councillors to the right of the political spectrum in an apparently biased fashion regarding trivialities.

In a recent case, a report of independent counsel and former treasurer of the law society Gavin McKenzie did not cast any aspersions on me. Rather, in stark contrast, that report raised significant issues in regard to the conduct of Councillor John Filion. Therefore, it is remarkable that the integrity commissioner sought to examine myself and ignored Filion.

In two other instances, trivial complaints against me that should have been dismissed outright were sent for investigation at great cost to the city, before eventually being dismissed outright. Every complaint investigated by the integrity commissioner exposes the City of Toronto to a $20,000 legal defence expense.

In one case, a political rival complained that I was not conducting a public meeting to his liking. In another, someone complained that one of my assistants was at an Ontario Municipal Board hearing regarding the ward boundary appeal. Both cases were eventually dismissed, but only after an investigation and needless legal fees paid for by Toronto taxpayers.

This pattern of conduct is very troubling and reinforces my concern that the Office of the Integrity Commissioner is not behaving in the impartial manner dictated by law and presumed by the public.

When the public hears the integrity commissioner is investigating a complaint, they rightfully and automatically assume the worst. With this great power comes great responsibility, and I believe that integrity commissioner is not behaving in a fair and open manner expected of her office.

It does not surprise me that that my political opponents and the left-wing media who are in favour of a larger council, reckless spending, and huge increases in taxes and fees continually launch frivolous actions against me in an attempt to silence me and the silent majority in the City of Toronto.

In response to all of them: Bite me Mammo-style, I am not going anywhere.

— Giorgio Mammoliti is councillor for Ward 7, York West

twitter.com/mammolitiward7

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