Toronto’s integrity commissioner ends conflict of interest investigation into Mayor Tory, says can't complete by deadline
Published Wednesday, August 17, 2022 7:02PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, August 18, 2022 7:43AM EDT
The city's integrity commissioner says he will not be able to complete his investigation into a complaint that alleged Mayor John Tory violated conflict of interest rules during a June city council vote on ActiveTO closures, given his ties to Rogers Communications.
In a statement to CP24 on Wednesday, Commissioner Jonathan Batty said he doesn’t have enough time to finish the inquiry before Friday’s deadline.
"It will not be feasible for me before Aug. 19, 2022, to collect all the necessary evidence, complete the required analysis, formulate my findings and issue a report," Batty wrote.
Friday is when the registration to become a candidate for the upcoming fall municipal election ends. As stipulated in the City of Toronto Act, all of the integrity commissioner's investigations must be terminated before that day, whether they are completed or not.
"At this point, I have made no determination one way or the other regarding whether a contravention of the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act has occurred. The fact that I will not be completing my inquiry by Aug. 19, 2022 must not be interpreted otherwise," he said.
Batty’s investigation into the complaint filed by Toronto resident and civic activist Adam Chaleff began on Jul. 27, 2022.
Chaleff alleged the mayor breached the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act (MCIA) by discussing and voting to reduce the number of ActiveTO closures on Lake Shore Boulevard West. The June 15 council vote came after Toronto Blue Jays President Mark Shapiro wrote in an open letter to the city about how the closures negatively impacted fans travelling to see the team.
The Blue Jays are owned by Rogers Communications Inc. and Tory is a member of the Rogers Control Trust Advisory Committee. It is a position for which he is paid to provide advice and guidance to the trust, which holds a controlling interest in Rogers Communications Inc.
Chaleff alleged that the mayor has an "indirect pecuniary interest in any matter that affects the finances, economic prospects, and/or property value of the Toronto Blue Jays" and should have declared a conflict on the matter.
Chaleff did ask the integrity commissioner to expedite his inquiry so that residents would know the results ahead of the October municipal election.
The end of the investigation means residents will head to the polls without knowing whether the mayor, who is seeking a third term, violated the code.
"Though I am disappointed that voters will not know the outcome of this investigation before they cast their ballots, I appreciate the Integrity Commissioner’s effort to conduct a full, fair and expeditious inquiry into Mayor Tory’s apparent conflict of interest," Chaleff said in a statement to CP24.
Tory has repeatedly defended his actions and in a statement on Wednesday, a spokesperson for the mayor's office maintained he followed the rules.
"Mayor Tory's record on integrity speaks for itself, and the timing of this complaint is certainly revealing. The Mayor has fully cooperated with the Integrity Commissioner's review and is highly confident he has complied with the law and acted appropriately and in good faith on this issue," Lawvin Hadisi said.
"ActiveTO is a traffic matter that affects thousands of businesses and hundreds of thousands of residents, and the Mayor has no reasonably discernable personal interest in it, direct or indirect. The Mayor respects the Integrity Commissioner and his process, and in consideration of this, we will not be making further comment at this time."
While the investigation has ended, it could be reopened again. Under the City of Toronto Act, Chaleff or Tory can request between Oct. 24 and Dec. 5, 2022, in writing to commence another inquiry.
Chaleff confirmed that he will request the integrity commissioner to resume the investigation into his complaint following the election.
- With files from Kerrisa Wilson and Chris Fox