April 26, 2018
The Honourable J. David Wake, Integrity Commissioner, today released his report into a complaint regarding Patrick Brown, Member of Provincial Parliament for Simcoe North. The complaint was filed by Randy Hillier, Member of Provincial Parliament for Lanark-Frontenac-Lennox and Addington, under section 30 of the Members’ Integrity Act, 1994.
The inquiry under s.31 of the Act examined the following:
- Did Mr. Brown fail to disclose gifts of travel to the Integrity Commissioner contrary to section 6 of the Act?
- Did Mr. Brown fail to disclose a source of income to the Integrity Commissioner in his private financial disclosure, contrary to section 20 of the Act?
- Did Mr. Brown receive money from Jass Johal and if so, did Mr. Brown fail to disclose this to the Integrity Commissioner in his private financial disclosure, as required by section 20 of the Act?
On Issue 1, the Commissioner found that there was insufficient evidence to make out a breach in this matter.
On Issue 2, the Commissioner found that Mr. Brown twice breached the Act in failing to disclose rental income from his personal residence in 2016 and 2017.
And on Issue 3, the Commissioner found that Mr. Brown twice breached the Act in failing to disclose a loan from Mr. Johal in 2016 and 2017.
In the report, the Commissioner wrote the following on Issue 3:
“I can say categorically that if I had been made aware of this Loan that I would have included it in Mr. Brown’s public disclosure statements for each of 2016 and 2017. When the leader of a political party is substantially indebted to a candidate for election as an MPP for that party, the interests of transparency require that the indebtedness be made known so that people have an appropriate context to assess the relationship between the leader and the candidate. Simply put, the public has a right to know.”
The Commissioner emphasized the importance of all MPPs understanding the requirement to be truthful in their annual submissions of financial information to the Office.
“It is imperative that members take their disclosure obligations under section 20 of the MIA seriously,” he wrote in the report. “When they do not there should be consequences.”
To the question of penalty, under s.34 of the Act the Commissioner can recommend:
a) that no penalty be imposed;
b) that the member be reprimanded;
c) that the member’s right to sit and vote in the Assembly be suspended for a specified period or until a condition imposed by the Commissioner is fulfilled; or
d) that the member’s seat be declared vacant.
The Commissioner has recommended that Mr. Brown be issued a reprimand related to Issue 2 and Issue 3. He noted in the report that Mr. Brown is not running for re-election as MPP, and that in the course of the inquiry he admitted to the breaches.
Any further steps on the matter rest with the members of the Legislative Assembly. Section 34(3) of the Act reads:
If the Commissioner recommends that a penalty be imposed, the Assembly may approve the recommendation and order that the penalty be imposed, or may reject the recommendation, in which case no penalty shall be imposed.
“I appreciate that the Assembly may not have sufficient time to consider this report before the 41st Parliament comes to an end,” the Commissioner wrote. “I understand that the report will remain as a sessional paper of the 41st Parliament and can be brought forward by a future Parliament for debate should there be any desire to do so.”
The full report can be found at www.oico.on.ca under MPP Integrity, Commissioner’s Reports.
The Commissioner is not available for interviews.
About the OIC
The Office of the Integrity Commissioner has five key responsibilities: members’ integrity, ministers’ staff ethical conduct, lobbyists registration, disclosure of wrongdoing (whistle-blowing) and expenses review for Cabinet Ministers, opposition leaders, and selected agencies. An Officer of the Legislative Assembly, the Integrity Commissioner is independent of government.
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Michelle Renaud, Senior Advisor, Policy and Outreach
Office of the Integrity Commissioner of Ontario