Brampton councillors accuse Mayor Brown, four councillors of political ‘stunt’ to shut down city business

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Published June 16, 2022 at 11:52 am

(Frank Gunn/Canadian Press photo)

UPDATE – Brown and the four councillors absent at Wednesday’s meeting have issued a statement on the declaration of the vacant council office, part of which can be found at the bottom of this story.

The infighting on Brampton City Council continues with one group of councillors accusing Mayor Patrick Brown and four of their colleagues of shutting down city business while claiming Brown is using city staffers for his Conservative leadership campaign.


Brown and councillors Rowena Santos, Paul Viciente, Michael Palleschi and Harkirat Singh were no-shows at Wednesday’s regularly scheduled council meeting, forcing the session to be scrapped before it began.

The council members who did attend the axed meeting are now taking aim at the mayor and what they call his “four council enablers” for putting Brampton’s democracy “under siege” by skipping the meeting.

“Their tactic robs Brampton taxpayers of representation, shuts down city business and prevents a sixth member from being at the table with our group to move votes and bring accountability to City Hall,” Councillors Jeff Bowman, Martin Medeiros, Pat Fortini, Gurpreet Dhillon and Doug Whillans said in a statement provided to inSauga.com.

Those councillors were part of a so-called “Bloc of Six ” who routinely voted together to control the will of council, but that six is now down to five after Wards 7 and 8 city councillor Charmaine Williams resigned after winning the riding of Brampton Centre in the provincial election earlier this month.

RELATED: Brampton City Council makes ‘unprecedented’ vote to appoint new councillor before old one quits

This left one seat empty on council, which was to be officially filled on Wednesday by retired Wards 1 and 5 Councillor Elaine Moore.

But that appointment was put on hold when the meeting was cancelled. All city business on Wednesday’s agenda will be carried over to the next available council meeting – either a regular meeting or special meeting, should one be scheduled.

There is a special meeting of council scheduled for Friday at 9:30 a.m., where councillors are set to receive an update on a forensic audit of the now scrapped Brampton University project.

The declaration of the vacant seat has now been added to Friday’s agenda, but whether Brown and the four councillors who skipped the previous meeting make an appearance at the session remains to be seen.

Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown (centre) and Councillors Rowena Santos (top left), Paul Viciente (bottom left), Harkirat Singh (top right), and Michael Palleschi (bottom right) were all absent at the Brampton City Council meeting on Wednesday, June 15, 2022.

“A previously chosen replacement for Williams was supposed to be made official today, but that can’t happen if Brown and his followers refuse to show up to do their job,” the councillors said in their statement.

They also allege the mayor is “using taxpayer-funded City Hall staff to work on his federal campaign,” alluding to a video by Rebel News which reportedly shows city staff have been working on Brown’s CPC leadership campaign out of a Vaughan office building.

If the allegations are true, Brown could be in violation of the Council Code of Conduct.

A spokesperson for the city say the City Clerk has not received any complaints of staffers moonlighting for the Brown campaign.

The vacant seat on council led to a heated special meeting last month where a preemptive motion was passed to replace Williams with retired Wards 1 and 5 Councillor Elaine Moore – a move that had some councillors and Brown worried council was breaking the province’s municipal rules.

“If the Mayor and these Councillors are not held accountable for their actions today they will continue to use this abusive tactic of not showing up to Council meetings to avoid the results of important audits and investigations from being made public so that taxpayers are fully aware of what’s happening at their City Hall,” the statement reads.

“Patrick Brown is ignoring his obligation to taxpayers and to the City of Brampton,” the councillors said. “He continues to take the residents and taxpayers of our City for granted.”

Wednesday’s cancellation was the second time this year that a Brampton City Council meeting ground to a halt over absent councillors, when the Bloc of Six caused the cancellation of a February meeting in protest of what they called the city’s “authoritarian dictatorship.”

The city is set for a municipal election in October, and of Wednesday’s no-show councillors, Santos, Viciente and Palleschi have completed the nomination process, while Fortini is the only “Block of Six” member currently on the ballot.

Brown has until Aug. 19 to file paperwork for any re-election bid in Brampton, and the CPC leadership winner is set to be announced on Sept. 10.

UPDATE: On Thursday, Brown and the four councillors fired back at the allegations of blocking the appointment, saying “the validity of Council’s decisions may be called into question” because the motion to appoint Moore is “contrary to the Ontario Municipal Act.”

Those councillors say the appointment could bring “all future decisions up for legal challenge in the courts,” and that they are working with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and the City Clerk “to get through this impasse as quickly as possible.”

“Council continues to have important decisions to make,” Brown, Santos, Viciente, Palleschi and Singh said in a statement. “These decisions cannot be placed in legal limbo by the pre-assignment of a council seat contrary to the clear rules of the Ontario Municipal Act.”

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