COLEMAN: The Integrity Commissioner Cannot Investigate the Spadafora Election Controversy

Joey Coleman/The Public Record

Hamilton City Council Chamber

The Hamilton Spectator reports that people can file a complaint to Hamilton’s municipal Integrity Commissioner regarding newly elected Ward 14 Councillor Mike Spadafora’s conduct during the election.

TheSpec report does not include a citation or expert comment regarding this interpretation of the Acts.

The Ontario Municipal Act section 223.3(1) states municipal integrity commissioners are only to investigate the “application of the code of conduct for members of council and the code of conduct for members of local boards.”

The Act does not grant Integrity Commissioners any powers to investigate alleged acts by municipal election candidates, unless the candidate is already a member of City Council and the alleged violation is directly tied to the municipal council’s code of conduct.

A search of legal databases CanLII and Westlaw finds only one Integrity Commissioner report directly relating to alleged election acts.

[Other reports include complaints about the use of municipal resources by incumbents, not electoral conduct itself.]

In Ainslie v. Ford, 2014 ONMIC 1, then Toronto Integrity Commissioner Janet Leiper did not investigate campaign finance allegations. She wrote “The issue of campaign financing is addressed by the Municipal Elections Act, 1996 which is not under the jurisdiction of this office.”

Candidate Spadafora’s robocalls stated he was endorsed by then Mayor Fred Eisenberger. Eisenberger states he was willing to consider an endorsement, but did not give an endorsement.

Spadafora won by a narrow margin of 79 votes.

Did Spadafora’s claim of an Eisenberger endorsement cause 40 voters who planned to cast their ballots for runner-up Kojo Damptey to vote for him? Or did it cause enough votes to switch from other right-of-centre candidates to Spadafora for him to win?

The ethical cloud surrounding Spadafora will never be cleared up, and there is no mechanism available in the Municipal Elections Act to address concerns regarding this endorsement controversy.

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Last edited: November 16, 2022
Author: Joey Coleman
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