In the period September to November 2019, six complaints were filed against Ottawa City Councillor Richard Chiarelli with the Integrity Commissioner for the City of Ottawa. The Commissioner investigated and then prepared one report in respect to three of the complaints, which were similar. The Commissioner filed the Report with Ottawa City Council on July 9, 2020. City Council considered the Report on July 15, 2020, accepted its conclusions that Councillor Chiarelli had engaged in acts of misconduct in respect to the three complaints, and imposed the maximum available penalty: suspending Councillor Chiarelli’s salary for 270 days in the aggregate. City Council also adopted a resolution calling upon Councillor Chiarelli to resign from City Council.
Councillor Chiarelli applied to the Ontario Divisional Court for judicial review of the proceedings below. He argued that the Commissioner lacked jurisdiction to investigate the complaints, showed bias against him, and denied the Councillor procedural fairness. He argued that City Council exhibited bias against him. He sought various remedies, including orders quashing the findings and sanctions against him and orders prohibiting the respondents from taking further steps against him respecting the complaints.
In its decision released December 22, 2021, Chiarelli v. Ottawa (City of), 2021 ONSC 8256 (CanLII), the Divisional Court (Morawetz C.J.O.S.C.J., D.L. Corbett and Ryan Bell JJ.):
- Dismissed the application as against the Commissioner, with costs payable by Councillor Chiarelli to the Commissioner fixed on a partial indemnity basis at $40,000, inclusive, payable within thirty days;
- Granted the application as against the City of Ottawa;
- Quashed the sanction decision of City Council, with costs payable by the City of Ottawa to Councillor Chiarelli fixed at 50% of partial indemnity costs, in the amount of $20,000, inclusive, payable within ten days of the date on which Councillor Chiarelli pays the $40,000 in costs he owes to the Commissioner; and
- Imposed a sanction on Councillor Chiarelli of suspension of salary for 270 days in the aggregate.