By: Surjit Singh Flora
Wards 9 & 10 councillor Gurpreet Singh Dhillon is the subject of the allegation, which was made public earlier this week by local media outlets.
A Brampton councillor is under fire over an alleged misconduct charge against a female member of an overseas trade mission that took place last month.
Sources familiar with the matter have said that the woman, who is a local business owner, filed a complaint to the City of Brampton and Mayor Patrick Brown’s office shortly after Dhillon returned to Canada from a trade mission in Turkey.
The city confirmed the allegation leveled against Dhillon in an emailed statement sent Tuesday. “Serious allegations of sexual misconduct involving a councillor were recently brought to the attention of City of Brampton officials,” said an emailed statement from senior public relations advisor Natalie Stogdill. “The alleged incident occurred outside of Canada.”
According to the statement, Peel Police and the city’s integrity commissioner have also been notified regarding the matter. As of Wednesday morning, Peel Police stated that there is no record of any investigation being made regarding the allegation.
When reached for comment regarding the case, Dhillon said that “it has come to my attention that an individual with a similar name and age to me, from Brampton, was recently arrested on criminal charges and appeared before court. This has led to mistaken identity and baseless rumours against me.”
“I want to take this opportunity to unequivocally make clear that I have never been charged, arrested, or been under investigation,” said Dhillon.
The trip was focused on increasing bilateral relations between Brampton and Turkey, and that the trade mission’s participants were focused on business-to-business relationships, he continued.
“At no time did I participate in any inappropriate conduct,” said Dhillon. “In addition to this, I can confirm that there has been no official complaint registered against me with the City of Brampton, and I have never been investigated or questioned by the police. I will continue to vigorously protect my reputation and will take any and all appropriate legal action as deemed necessary to do so.”
Mayor Brown’s office did not respond to a comment regarding the matter. In the statement sent by the city, Stogdill stated that “it would be inappropriate for City officials to make any further comment at this time… additional information regarding any further steps that the City may take in response to these allegations will be provided to the public as soon as the City is able to do so.”
In its mission, the city has a zero-tolerance policy regarding any type of sexual misconduct, harassment, or bullying. “The City is committed to promoting a vibrant, healthy, safe and compassionate work environment where everyone is treated fairly, with respect, civility, and is free from harassment or discrimination,” the mission statement says.
The victim was left “deeply shaken” by the experience, said Badar Shamin, a business owner who was part of the delegation and spoke to the media earlier this week concerning the allegations. According to Shamin, the incident that resulted in the allegation happened in the hotel the delegation was staying at, in the capital of Ankara. He stated that he encouraged the victim to report her experience to the authorities.
“She felt betrayed, she felt her confidence in public office was shattered,” Shamin said in a statement given to the National Post. “Every conversation I’ve had with her, she’s been afraid about repercussions of going to the authorities, because of the perceived level of influence the councillor might have in the community.”
According to sources, the victim did relay her experience to city staff upon returning to Canada.