BY BRAMPTON FOCUS COMMUNITY MEDIA, SPECIAL
Brampton’s Ward 9/10 Regional Councillor Gurpreet Dhillon lost his attempt to reverse a devastating ruling by the City of Brampton’s Integrity Commissioner that found he violated the City’s Code of Conduct rules in sexual assault allegations by a resident. On June 11th, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice ruled in favor of the City of Brampton and the Integrity Commissioner and awarded $20,000 each in legal costs. Dhillon filed a lawsuit against the City and the Integrity Commissioner over the findings of misconduct allegations involving a sexual assault claim by a Brampton business owner.
The incident occurred while Dhillon was in Turkey on a trade mission in Nov. 2019 representing the City of Brampton. The Integrity Commissioner’s report included graphic and disturbing allegations that were corroborated by a three-minute audio recording that the complainant made while Dhillon was in her hotel room on Nov. 14 and 15, 2019.
The complainant said that the interaction lasted for 30 minutes. The Integrity Commissioner wrote that: “The audio recording makes it very clear how vigorously the Complainant was refusing Councillor Dhillon while he was trying to force himself onto her. The Complainant said “no” a total of 74 times. During the audio recording, I could hear the Complainant’s voice becoming distant from the recording device as she continually pleaded with Councillor Dhillon to put her down. It is further clear that Councillor Dhillon forcefully lifted up the Complainant’s Skirt while he had her in his grip and while she was off the ground.”
The Integrity Commissioner’s 268-page report found Dhillon had violated four Code of Conduct Rules (Harassment, Discreditable conduct, Failure to adhere to council policies and procedures and Reprisals and obstruction). The Integrity Commissioner recommended the most severe penalty within her jurisdiction, a three-month suspension without pay. Council also issued an official reprimand to Dhillon and removed him as chair of the city’s economic development and culture committee, restricted him from communicating with residents outside of email, prohibited him from traveling on city business outside of Ontario and barring him from city hall outside of retrieving mail and attending city council meetings during his suspension.
The Integrity Commissioner also wrote that she would have recommended Dhillon’s immediate removal from council had it been within her jurisdiction to do so. Dhillon disputed the report, and the penalty, contending that the city’s Integrity Commissioner did not have jurisdiction to review the matter. He denied the allegations and findings in the report, saying the report was “one-sided, politically driven report” and refused to participate in the investigation.
The city issued a statement say that it was “pleased with the decision of the Divisional Court confirming the findings and recommendations of the Integrity Commissioner’s report.“ The recent court decision follows on the heels of another lawsuit that the city had been engaged since July 2011, with local developer Inzola Construction fighting the city in regards to the City Hall expansion and procurement process.
The city and staff were absolved in the $28M lawsuit, despite having Councillor Elaine Moore and Councillor Grant Gibson testify against the city. The court awarded $3.1M dollars in legal costs to the city. Dhillon did not respond to requests for comment by Brampton Focus Community Media.