The Honourable J. David Wake, Integrity Commissioner, has informed the Honourable Ted Arnott, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario that he is unable to provide a report on the complaint regarding Natalia Kusendova, MPP for Mississauga Centre.
On April 19, 2022, Taras Natyshak, MPP for Essex, submitted an affidavit in which he alleged that Ms. Kusendova contravened section 6 of the Members’ Integrity Act, 1994 in accepting over $30,000 in gifts from Grant Gorchynski. Mr. Natyshak sought the Commissioner’s opinion on the matter under section 30 of the Act.
The Act specifies that the Commissioner must suspend any inquiry with the issuance of the writ for a general election. Given the timing of the request, the Commissioner provided Ms. Kusendova with a copy of the affidavit on April 20 and requested information that would assist him in determining whether he should conduct an inquiry into the matter. Ms. Kusendova responded promptly, requesting an extension until May 2 to permit her to obtain bank records and other information. A second request on April 29 from Ms. Kusendova’s legal counsel sought additional time to respond to the request for information, noting the existence of court proceedings arising from the same matter and how that might impact the Commissioner’s jurisdiction to proceed with the section 30 request.
The Commissioner determined that both requests for additional time were reasonable given the circumstances and in the interests of fairness. As the Commissioner had insufficient information, he was unable to determine whether to conduct an inquiry into this matter before the election writ was issued and was unable to provide a report to the Speaker.
The Act provides that no inquiries are to proceed during the election period. As a result, a new request for an opinion on this matter would need to be made by and about an elected member of the next parliament.
About the OIC
The Office has seven mandates under five pieces of legislation:
- Members’ Integrity, providing confidential conflict of interest advice to MPPs and conducting inquiries into alleged breaches;
- Ministers’ Staff Ethical Conduct, providing conflict of interest advice and direction to public servants in ministers’ offices;
- Lobbyist Registration, operating Ontario’s lobbyist registry and conducting investigations into potential non-compliance;
- Disclosure of Wrongdoing, receiving whistleblowing disclosures from current and former members of the Ontario Public Service;
- Public Sector Ethics, providing conflict of interest advice and direction to Ethics Executives in ministries and public bodies; and,
- Expenses Review:
- Reviewing the travel, meal and hospitality expenses of Cabinet ministers, parliamentary assistants, Opposition leaders, and their staff; and,
- Reviewing the travel, meal and hospitality expenses of selected agencies.
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