The mayor of Brampton says city officials have been ‘vindicated’ by the report, but the city director said the investigation is inadequate

Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown said top city officials have been “vindicated” after an independent investigation concluded that allegations of corruption, racism and harassment that rocked the city hall earlier this year could not be substantiated.

But the Brampton city director, whose allegations prompted the investigation, criticized the investigation as inadequate.

In a statement Thursday on behalf of Gurdeep “Nikki” Kaur, attorney Lorne Honickman said the report Deloitte released this week “does not address many of the concerns that Ms. Kaur raised, one of which is the fact that they didn’t. ” complete full investigation.

“Some of the allegations were not addressed,” Honickman said.

Kaur’s complaint, which he sent to the city hall on April 22 and later shared with the media, targeted several senior officials. The main target was Brampton Managing Director (CAO) David Barrick, whom Kaur accused of mismanaging public funds and pressuring her to hire unskilled staff.

The Brampton City Council hired Deloitte in May to investigate Kaur’s allegations. After receiving an interim report on the findings in mid-September, the council halted the investigation. The decision meant that investigators were unable to conduct scheduled interviews with six people, including a final interview with Kaur, according to the report.

“It is possible that such interviews could have provided more information relevant to this report,” Deloitte wrote.

Brown responded that the council had previously expanded the research budget “to make sure we really got to the bottom.” The decision to stop the investigation was unanimous, he said, and came after hearing that Deloitte had investigated the issues raised by Kaur “extensively.”

The board determined that any remaining issues “really should be dealt with by internal audit,” it said.

In a statement Thursday, Brown said: “The council is pleased that the findings vindicate city public officials and affirm that no crime or policy violations occurred.”

The investigation identified two “instances of noncompliance” and one instance of “potential noncompliance” with city policies and standard operating procedures. He noted that some of the policies in force at the time of the alleged misconduct “lack clarity, which creates challenges” to reach conclusions “with respect to possible infractions “.

However, “most of the complaints investigated by Deloitte were unsubstantiated,” the report concluded.

In a statement Thursday, Barrick said: “I am pleased that Deloitte’s independent investigation has formally confirmed that, in my conduct as CAO, I followed all city policies and that all allegations made against me and others have been considered. unfounded by an objective third party. “

Kaur’s complaint also included allegations of racism against Brampton’s director of human resources, Sandeep Aujla, who has since filed a $ 200,000 lawsuit against Kaur, saying that Kaur’s “defamatory email is totally false” and has caused a significant damage to reputation. Deloitte concluded in its report that “considering the odds,” the allegation in the April 22 complaint “was unsubstantiated.”

The law firm representing Aujla, Van Kralingnen and Keenberg, tweeted on wednesday that the report “vindicates” Aujla, who “hopes to prosecute the employee responsible for damages in a defamation action that has already begun.”

Kaur is not satisfied. “There is no analysis or comment on who was believed or who was not believed and, more importantly, the reasons why,” said Honickman, his attorney.

He said Kaur has yet to present a defense statement, but that “the claim will be vigorously defended.”

Deloitte conducted 24 interviews with current and former city employees and reviewed the email data. Investigators also collected company phones belonging to Kaur and Barrick, his former boss, although Kaur’s phone was badly damaged and Barrick’s did not contain any WhatsApp data, because he told investigators that he had those conversations on his phone. personal. (Kaur was fired within hours of submitting her email on April 22; in a confidential vote on May 5, the council ordered staff to rehire her in another department.)

The investigation also examined disclosures that staff and the public made through a confidential information platform. Several of those disclosures concerned allegations involving elected officials and their staff, or were outside the scope of the audit. At the Brampton city council meeting on Wednesday, the city clerk confirmed that those allegations would be forwarded to the city’s internal audit department or integrity commissioner.

The Board voted unanimously to accept Deloitte’s report. Before casting his vote, Councilor Martín Medeiros told the council that the references to the integrity commissioner “raise concerns.

“I just think it’s not a start for us to just say, ‘Okay, great! Everything is perfect ”, and we move on. I think you have to learn from this. “

—With files from Grant LaFleche

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