TORONTO — The city manager of Brampton says he “strenuously disagreed” with the report of the RCMP’s investigation into the city, which found city officials and politicians acted in good faith and did not violate electoral-campaign law.
Bruce Hawkins, Brampton’s chief administrative officer, said the committee of seven councillors responsible for the police report, which was released Thursday, has had “a lot of input” and have also fully co-operated.
But in an interview with the National Post on Friday, Hawkins said that, like council, he isn’t satisfied with the RCMP’s failure to review a complaint from the anti-corruption bureau, the use of volunteer investigators and its focus on ethics violations.
“I strongly believe these are omissions and concerns,” he said. “I’m glad they acknowledged them.”
Hawkins said the anti-corruption bureau’s complaint is “very close” to what the RCMP reviewed, which found police followed protocol and its investigation found no evidence of political interference.
“The RCMP should have applied that same rigour, applying the same cause of action,” he said.
He said “several hundred” hours of investigation by police found no evidence to disprove Councillor Brad Gordon’s complaint against three city officials, or the existence of a memo sent by Gordon to City Manager Rick Dunn on May 3, 2013, about a candidate without mayoral approval.
Though several members of Brampton council sat on the standing committee reviewing the investigation’s conclusion, Hawkins said the committee’s review is irrelevant, as their findings did not depend on what the RCMP had discovered.
“We could have been very clear on any of our findings about these observations,” he said. “It’s being done, but the question is whether or not the RCMP investigation is being done.”
Hawkins noted that none of the former members of Brampton’s Municipal Elections Enforcement Team had received any disciplinary action.
In a letter to the RCMP on Thursday, Deputy Director Peter Wallace said the bureau’s complaint can’t be considered by the court as a defence or as proof of any wrongdoing. He said the bureau only brought a complaint to police after “serious and visible” allegations against Brampton government staff and politicians were reported by the media.
“The Citizen’s continued reports are extremely concerning in the context of such a broad-ranging police investigation,” Wallace wrote. “It is difficult to understand how our investigation as a matter of limited resources and time… proceeded to a conclusion that is so narrow in scope, and the necessary evidence assessment overlooked.”
He recommended the RCMP look to its policy on political neutrality when an investigation requires “jurisdictional separation” between the federal and provincial police, or when the threshold for revealing possible criminality at the provincial level would be too high.
A lawyer for Gordon, Jonathan Freund, said it’s important to conduct the police investigation again, and its findings need to be reviewed.
“The process for investigating municipal affairs is clear and fair: inquiry within one city’s civic administration and police, followed by submission of a report to the municipal body for its consideration,” Freund said in a statement. “Subsequent action, public or private, requires oversight by some or all of those institutions.”
Hawkins said Brampton Mayor Susan Fennell has suggested reopening the inquiry, and city council will review it on Feb. 1.
Toronto councillors have called for the RCMP to begin a formal review of the alleged improprieties, including a total reopening of the municipal elections probe.
Raheed Aziz, Toronto council’s vice-chair of democratic renewal, said he expects many members of council will demand the RCMP re-investigate the matter, even after an initial review.
“The mandate of the police is basically to get to the truth,” he said. “As chair of the legislative committees … I want my committees to review the police’s findings and recommendations.”