Ottawa Centre New Democratic Party (NDP) MPP Joel Harden has tabled a motion in the Ontario legislature calling on the Ford government to provide city councils in Ontario with the ability to remove councillors found guilty of serious misconduct, including sexual misconduct.
Harden’s motion comes after Ottawa City Council called for the resignation of Councillor Rick Chiarelli, who is facing multiple complaints of sexual misconduct and was found guilty of violating the code of conduct for councillors by two separate integrity commissioner reports.
Ottawa City Council has called on the province to introduce legislation that would provide a mechanism for councillors like Chiarelli, who commit serious acts of misconduct, to be removed from office.
“The Rick Chiarelli saga calls for provincial action,” said Harden. “City councils need the power to remove councilors who have committed serious acts of misconduct, including sexual harassment.
“I want to acknowledge the incredible courage shown by all of the women who came forward. What happened to them can never be allowed to happen in the future, which is why we need legislation allowing municipalities to remove councilors who have engaged in predatory behavior, or other very serious misconduct.”
Multiple women have come forward with shocking and disturbing stories about Chiarelli’s offenses, which included repeatedly subjecting his female employees to degrading and sexualized misconduct.
The city’s integrity commissioner investigated the councillor’s conduct and in two scathing reports, recommended the maximum possible penalty be levied against Chiarelli.
Last week, Ottawa city council voted to strip him of his pay for 180 days (the maximum penalty allowed) and unanimously called on him to resign, which he refuses to do. There is no recourse for his constituents or council colleagues to remove him, despite the investigation’s findings.
Women’s organizations and community associations in Chiarelli’s ward have also called on him to resign.
Text of MPP Joel Harden’s motion: That, in the opinion of this House, the Ford government should, after consulting with the public and municipalities, table legislation that gives municipal councils the ability to independently institute measures to remove members of council who have been found guilty of serious acts of misconduct, including sexual misconduct.
Harden, who is from Vankleek Hill, was elected as the MPP for Ottawa Centre in the 2018 provincial election.