On March 8, Hawkesbury council also granted a 60-day extension to an investigation being undertaken by the Integrity Commissioner that is separate from the report delivered at the meeting regarding the actions of Mayor Paula Assaly.
John Saywell’s term as Integrity Commissioner ended on December 31, 2020. On December 14, 2020, council approved the appointment of Jean-Jacques Lacombe as the new Integrity Commissioner. Saywell referred a complaint he had begun investigating in September 2020 to lawyer Valerie McGarry on November 17, 2020 for her to investigate on his behalf once his term as Integrity Commissioner had ended.
In a letter to council, McGarry, whose office is in Delaware, Ontario, which is southwest of London, stated that virtually all of the material she received about the investigation was in French and had to be properly translated due to her limited knowledge of the language. She stated that the translation, the holiday season and pandemic-related difficulties made it impossible for her to investigate the complaint within the required 60-day period.
“This is not a small delay,” said Councillor Lawrence Bogue.
He expressed disappointment that the complaint was not investigated within 60 days.
“I just find it quite odd,” he added.
Councillor Antonios Tsourounakis, who was also chairing the portion of the council meeting addressing complaints to the Integrity Commissioner said that this complaint was resolved internally, and he did not see a point in it going further at the level of the Integrity Commissioner.
Councillor Robert Lefebvre replied and said that once a complaint has been filed, the process must be followed.
“It cannot be withdrawn,” he said, noting that one of the town’s lawyers had stated so during a closed session of council.
“We don’t want to be paying for this for an extended amount of time,” said Tsourounakis.
Council approved McGarry’s request for an extension.