The ethics watchdog responsible for complaints against MPs says the probe into former Brampton East MP Raj Grewal over his relationship with a local builder invited on a trip to India in January will continue, despite his recent resignation due to gambling problems.
Meanwhile, The Globe and Mail has reported details of an RCMP investigation into Grewal’s gambling and some of his recent spending that led to significant debt, including millions spent at an Ottawa-area casino.
Peel police wants to increase its budget next year by almost three times the current rate of inflation in Ontario.
Citing her concerns over increased violent crime, the lame-duck head of the force, departing Chief Jennifer Evans, has presented the police board with a proposed $423-million budget for 2019.
That represents a 5.4 percent increase over last year, money that will help in hiring 55 additional officers to deal with rising crime and the fallout from pot legalization.
But there are questions: With an expensive new contract kicking in next year, putting every single first-class constable on the Sunshine List, will Peel Region buy it? And will the Doug Ford government cheapskate Brampton again, by withholding its policing grant?
Departing Brampton mayor Linda Jeffrey still hasn’t thrown her hat in the ring but acknowledges that she’s been “approached” about her interest in a job that, while out of the public spotlight, demands the sort of deep knowledge and experience a former mayor possesses.
Picking a new chair will be one of the first orders of business on Dec. 6, when a reconstituted Peel Region Council gathers for the first time since the municipal election.
Also waiting in the wings are several former Brampton and Mississauga councillors, and former Liberal MPPs who lost their seats in last June’s provincial election.
On Friday, a diversity and equity audit examining hiring, promotions and other practices inside Peel’s police force was expected to be revealed publicly at the last board meeting of the current term. It wasn’t.
A private firm handed it to the board in the spring, but it continues to play games with the community it’s supposed to serve.
Compliant, inexperienced police board members in the past, including a car salesman and a real estate agent close to Hazel McCallion, seemed more interested in approving tens of thousands of dollars to buy tickets for swanky private galas than in holding the force accountable.
Rookie Brampton backbencher Raj Grewal quit unexpectedly, amid a probe into an official trip to India he took with a Canadian businessman whose company had Grewal on its payroll, at the time.
The PMO now says that a serious gambling addiction was the reason for the resignation. Grewal leaves his vacated Brampton East MP seat open until next fall’s federal election. In the meantime, constituents will probably have to look to neighbouring MPs for any help with official matters.
Brampton’s unemployment rate is 46 percent higher than Ontario’s, and city residents who depend on social assistance while trying to re-enter the workforce will fall further behind under the PC government’s plan, announced Thursday.
A 1.5 percent overall increase in payments won’t even keep up with inflation.
But the government is promising a more coordinated approach to helping people find work and leave the system permanently.
Despite hints that a long-awaited equity and diversity audit report would be released during the Peel Police Services Board’s final meeting of the year, there was no mention of the audit on Friday’s agenda.
The Peel Coalition Against Racialized Discrimination says the report was actually completed in April but hasn’t been made public because it contains embarrassing details on how the force has failed to reflect the diverse community it serves.
Chief Jennifer Evans, who plans to retire in a few weeks, provided no information on where the report is or when it will be released.
A new Peel Police Board with the new mayor of Brampton and a new regional chair will have to find a new chief to replace Jennifer Evans, the controversial head of a force plagued by officer misconduct and allegations of systemic discrimination.
As violent crime spirals out of control, Brampton and Mississauga need a chief with fresh ideas who can bring a new, modern style of policing to one of the fastest growing, most diverse and complex regions in the country.
Set-top devices popular in the city’s large immigrant communities, and readily available in dozens of video stores, make it easy to employ illegal streaming services that are commonly used by people who appreciate cheap access to programming from other parts of the world.
But the business of piracy is a costly problem for licensed media outlets, large and small — including independent operators that once thrived by serving diaspora communities and offering legally obtained news and entertainment in languages such as Punjabi.
Trying to fight the illegal practice poses problems, as attempting to restrict access to pirated websites could lead to a violation of Charter rights.
Justice is not being served in Brampton, a judge has written in a scathing indictment against the provincial government for failing to properly fund the city’s main courthouse.
Cases are being delayed, there are not enough courtrooms and some people involved in matters before the court are being denied basic rights to access justice, wrote senior regional judge Peter Daley, who called out the provincial government Monday in a sharply worded report over its continued failure to take responsibility of the justice system in Peel.
The increasingly desperate situation at the Brampton courthouse on Hurontario Street is another issue on a growing list of poorly funded provincial services, including healthcare, public safety, regional transit and education, that are not keeping up with the city’s rapid growth, which is mandated by the province.
Rapper Darren John says he can’t afford a lawyer to fight his conviction on uttering threats against his former promoter.
But a judge who was to determine whether he gets help to pay for one brought quite a few observations into the mix beyond evidence given in court of his financial need.
The first question Peel politicians will need to deal with in this new council term is the future of policing in Brampton and Mississauga, where much will depend on the choice of the next police chief — and how willing the provincial government will be to pony up for more cops and resources to tackle rising crime.
Mayor-elect Patrick Brown has vowed to push for more resources in the community and on the police force. But will he go for new blood or push to hire within?
That’s just one of many questions faced by the Peel Police Services Board while awaiting the results of a police diversity audit, due out this week.
Brampton Mayor-elect Patrick Brown’s new memoir breaks the mould of stodgy, predictable political biographies that employ pedestrian language to bore readers into submission. Unlike other books beside it on store shelves, it’s not likely in this coming holiday season that copies of Takedown will be moved to the remainder bin.
It currently sits atop Amazon Canada’s bestseller list for political biographies where it stands out from other books in the staid genre.
It’s a tell-all thriller and political takedown of Ontario Progressive Conservative Party bosses that paves the way for someone, perhaps Brown himself, to begin a new Conservative movement in Ontario.
In Chapter 5 of his memoir, Takedown: The Attempted Political Assassination of Patrick Brown, titled “Night of Knives,” Patrick Brown describes what happened during the frantic hours after he learned of the allegations against him: the betrayal of trusted members of his team, the chaotic midnight conference call that sealed his fate, and his desperate attempt to persuade his party to let him tell his side of the story before killing his career in provincial politics.
Read the entire chapter in this exclusive excerpt on The Pointer.
(The language includes profanity and may be offensive to some readers)
Though it will come too late for last Sunday’s centenary of the end of World War I, a new memorial wall will provide a more fitting tribute to the 163 Bramptonians who have died fighting in Canada’s wars.
The project, the subject of a rare unanimous vote by city council, will be built in Ken Whillans Square once plans for a renewal project in that area are completed.
Meanwhile, the Royal Canadian Legion’s local branch is dreaming about what the project will look like when it’s finally erected next to the long-standing cenotaph.
Takedown: The Attempted Political Assassination of Patrick Brown was released at a Brampton launch party on Friday, already a top seller for its publisher.
The coming-out party at Carl’s Catering The Glen drew media, residents and the city elite, eager to hear how Brown expects to handle the fallout of his bridge-burning book about his meteoric rise and fall as leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative party.
Brown shrugged off concerns, saying he hadn’t made any new enemies with the book.
The newly elected mayor of Brampton reflects on his spectacular rise, fall and resurrection from the political ashes of last January’s sexual-misconduct allegations in a wide-ranging interview with The Pointer.
He talks about his support of the #MeToo movement despite being caught in the “eye of the storm”, the “catharsis” of writing a book, why he doesn’t care that it will burn a lot of bridges and what he hopes to do for the city as he returns to municipal politics.
Takedown: The Attempted Political Assassination of Patrick Brown, has raised a ruckus even before its bookstore launch this Friday, with its pull-no-punches invective against Tory caucus members who ousted him from the party leadership last January.
The anger on both sides is palpable but should come as no surprise to observers of the fraught party politics that surrounded Brown’s ascendancy to the Progressive Conservative leadership and his tumultuous fall from grace within hours of a CTV story that made allegations of sexual misconduct — allegations he continues to vigorously deny.
The Hurontario LRT is critical for bringing higher-order transit into the city of Brampton. Now it looks like the project may be on the chopping block.
Following discussions with ministry reps, the Ontario NDP transit critic says the government under Premier Doug Ford is refusing to deny rumours that the Hurontario LRT project is set to be cancelled.
While the Conservatives claim they have yet to make any decisions surrounding the future of the project, the uncertainty itself is not a good thing for Brampton.
Brampton’s mayor-elect has penned a remarkably revealing political exposé detailing the spellbinding circumstances that led to his public dismemberment following allegations of sexual misconduct.
He has vigorously denied the claims, and now details his version of the events that stripped him of the chance to be Ontario's next premier.
The Pointer will feature an exclusive interview Thursday with Brown, a day before the official launch, and an excerpt from the book, the complete chapter titled Night of Knives, this Saturday.
Missing the Remembrance Day ceremony at city hall was just the latest example of rookie PC MPP Amarjot Sandhu’s ghost-like presence.
Sandhu may have been elected to represent the interests of residents of Brampton, but he has either voted against legislation crucial to Bramptonians at Queen’s Park or been absent during such votes.
The Brampton West MPP has also been largely unavailable for inquiries from the media, to the point that his voice mailbox has been full for months.
In the midst of Peel Region’s worst ever crime wave, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government is giving $200 million to provinces to help disrupt the inner workings of black-market gun sales and gang activity across the country.
An additional $86 million investment in the RCMP and the Canada Border Services Agency may make a difference, particularly in stemming the flow of guns over the border.
But despite a Brampton MP’s attempt to promote her government’s tough on crime initiative, it remains unclear how the city, currently reeling from a guns and gangs epidemic, will benefit directly from an infusion of badly needed funding as the city's violent crime problem continues to grow.
Among the many unresolved issues inside Queen’s Park that could deeply impact Brampton’s future, decisions about funding the city’s transit needs are among the most important. With huge potential to attract jobs and investment, higher order transit could be the catalyst to move the city forward.
But as traffic congestion becomes more crippling every day, it remains unclear if Doug Ford’s PC government will invest in Brampton’s transit needs, even if a new council under Mayor-elect Patrick Brown puts forward a decisive plan for the city’s future.
Three high-profile resignations by Conservative politicians and a staffer over allegations of inappropriate sexual behaviour in recent weeks, including MP Tony Clement’s admission of ‘sexting’ women, have Brampton MPP Sara Singh and others concerned about the conduct of men in the corridors of political power.
Singh lashed out at Premier Doug Ford inside Queen’s Park Monday, accusing him of trying to cover up the allegation against former PC MPP Jim Wilson, who resigned from cabinet and the party caucus two weeks ago, when officials claimed it was over “addiction issues”.
Wait times to file family court documents in Brampton’s Superior Court of Justice reached nearly five times the ministry standard earlier this year and remain among the longest in the GTA.
While a stiff increase in the number of people going to court without lawyers — and often struggling to figure out court bureaucracy — is a problem across the province, Brampton’s courthouse is particularly hard hit, frustrating court staff and ordinary litigants alike.
With no plans to increase staff or counters at the Hurontario Street court, it’s not clear when Bramptonians will see relief.
MP and former Brampton MPP Tony Clement, who retains deep ties to the city, issued a letter to his Parry Sound constituents Thursday evening apologizing for “acts of infidelity” to his wife and admitting that he “crossed lines that should never have been crossed.”
The open letter comes less than 48 hours after the news of the sexting scandal exploded, triggering Clement’s ouster from the Conservative caucus and his departure from a prominent position on Canada’s National Security Committee.
Clement’s wife, Lynne Golding, a Brampton native and prominent lawyer and author, issued her own statement on Wednesday, saying Clement would be “taking the action he needs to get help.”
While momentum builds for changes at Queen's Park to address Brampton's sky-high auto insurance rates, many who have been dealing with the issue for decades say some elected officials in the city are misrepresenting the facts. Higher rates of costly accidents, possibly due to excessive speeds that are allowed on many of the city's streets, can lead to more expensive insurance fees.
Other reasons not related to postcode discrimination could also contribute to Brampton's exorbitant auto insurance prices, according to some in the industry.
In a city that cannot afford any more reputational damage over controversy involving senior staff and council members, Guy Giorno’s decision to step down as integrity commissioner because of his long-time ties to Mayor-elect Patrick Brown leaves a hole that newly elected officials will need to fill, despite the sometimes uneasy relationship with the person who holds them accountable.
After a series of scandals in a number of large cities, new provincial law makes having an integrity commissioner mandatory in every Ontario municipality.
Meanwhile, the position of lobbyist registrar, which Giorno also filled, is now open at a time when the city looks for ways to limit influence by corporate interests, especially developers, on important decisions, such as land use.
Long-lived regional councillors are due for hefty pensions after as much as 30 years in office, on top of the unusually large severance payments they voted for themselves while sitting on city council several years ago.
The mayor, after only four years in office, is entitled to a more modest pension. But altogether, departing council members could end up, in the long run, receiving more than $2 million.
The long-time Conservative politician is dealing with a professional and personal crisis after admitting he sent inappropriate images to a woman. Things are moving fast around the MP and married father of three, as his party leader, Andrew Scheer, asked him on Wednesday to resign from the federal Conservative caucus.
As the news spreads, in an era when political survival after similar scandals has become hard to predict, Clement has made claims of extortion as a motive behind the story, and is now asking for privacy.
Brampton City Council will have just 48 days after being sworn in to decide whether to opt out of allowing cannabis retail stores in the city, which would mean turning down potential revenues in favour of waiting to see what impact legalization will have on community health and safety.
The short timeline, which follows the Doug Ford government’s decision to move away from LCBO-like regulation to allowing private retail sales, will mean a council with five new members will need to grapple quickly with a host of issues — and some sharply differing opinions among its constituents.
More than 50 percent of Brampton’s residents were born outside Canada. With the federal government’s announcement that it plans to welcome 350,000 newcomers into the country annually as of 2021 — the highest level in the modern era — city officials wonder how Ottawa plans to help the municipality, where a disproportionate number of immigrants settle.
The city’s finances are already stretched, hospitals are beyond capacity, affordable housing is vastly underfunded, and other services aren’t keeping up. A local Liberal MP, Raj Grewal, says city council needs to do a better job of advocating for Brampton’s needs.
Within Brampton's diverse mix of faith groups, one of the city's smallest religious communities offers inspiration to all, even as many of its members fear a return to darker days.
The impact of events south of the border, as nationalism gets stoked by politicians and those using it as a way to deal with economic hardship, is being felt right here in Brampton.
Brampton City Council and Ryerson University representatives gathered Friday for a special meeting to consider next steps after the province pulled out of a $90-million commitment for a satellite campus in the city.
While optimism was expressed about the project going ahead on schedule, it remains unclear where the missing money will come from and if the location chosen by the previous provincial government will be changed.
Notably absent from the council meeting were Brampton’s two Progressive Conservative MPPs, who were invited after defending their government’s decision to cut the funding.
Brampton car owners pay an average of $2,268 annually for insurance, 70 percent more than the provincial average. Critics say many insurance providers discriminate against the city’s drivers and use postal code data to target areas where rates are hiked dramatically.
But a move Thursday by Brampton NDP MPP Gurratan Singh inside Queen’s Park to end the practice was voted down by the ruling PC government, which favours a plan by one of its MPPs to reduce rates that could still be passed. Critics of that plan say it will not end postcode discrimination in Brampton.
An appointment to the position of Peel Region chair is still more than a month away, but speculation is swirling about the potential candidates. The decision of who will serve, which the new council will make on Dec. 6, could set the tone inside Peel Region chambers for the next four years.
Will Linda Jeffrey throw her hat into the ring? Will Mississauga, with its heavy vote count, insist on a Mississauga candidate? Will Brampton councillors who backed Patrick Brown get a boost?
Either way, with Brampton looking for more seats at the table—and more clout—and Mississauga’s mayor wanting to pull out of Peel altogether, the chosen chair could be in for a rocky ride.
Four retiring city councillors together stand to receive close to $730,000 from taxpayer-funded severance as they leave office this fall.
Gael Miles, Elaine Moore, John Sprovieri and Grant Gibson are entitled to one month’s salary for every year served at city council, up to 18 months — an extremely generous cap that the four voted for themselves back in 2013 under Susan Fennell’s leadership, despite a consultant’s report that showed the average severance paid by municipalities is 5.5 months.
According to the formula, each could receive nearly $127,000 from the city and a further $56,000 from Peel Region, which caps payouts at 12 months.
Despite this year’s high-profile municipal election, voter turnout was down in Brampton, to an embarrassing 34.5 percent. That should prompt new mayor Patrick Brown to look for ways to nurture the political engagement of Bramptonians when it comes to the day-to-day issues that matter most.
The Pointer takes a look at the ups and downs of political turnout in Peel Region and the GTA, and some suggested solutions to the widespread attitude of “I don’t know and I don’t care” when it comes to municipal politics.
A survey conducted by Toronto Region Board of Trade shows that a large majority of residents of the GTA-Hamilton-Waterloo region think a proposal for consolidating transit systems under a single entity — dubbed “Superlinx” — makes sense.
The board’s president says the current system, which sends municipalities begging to higher governments for transit money, hasn’t worked, so it makes sense to send decisions to a body “where growth revenues, planning authority, and financing capacity already exist.” Some 87 percent of the Peel Region residents who took part in the board’s online panel agreed that the idea has merit.
But what happens when Brampton’s needs are pitted against, say, Scarborough’s remains an open question.
The trial for a $28.5 million lawsuit still hanging over the city heard from three retiring Brampton councillors, who testified that a number of issues around a controversial $500 million downtown development deal raised red flags.
The $205 million price of the city hall expansion, costs that should have been paid by the builder for a 377-day delay and a building that is too close to the street were some of the issues they addressed during the trial that wrapped up last month.
After Premier Doug Ford's shocking decision last week, Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath’s move to put the money for Brampton’s Ryerson University campus and two others in the GTA back into the coming year’s provincial budget goes down to defeat in the legislature Monday.
Brampton’s two PC MPPs, Amarjot Sandhu (Brampton West) and Prabmeet Sarkaria (Brampton South), were notably absent from the vote, after leaving the chamber shortly before the decision.
The traditional turban, which Sikh motorcyclists want to wear instead of a helmet, has a long and noble history as a symbol of the faith. Many consider it an indispensable and defining part of their identity.
An Ontario private member’s bill introduced by a Brampton MPP may finally succeed in bringing the province in line with other jurisdictions that have exempted observant Sikhs from helmet laws.
Doug Ford’s short-sighted decision to cancel funding for Brampton’s first full university campus won’t stymie the energy and ideas of young students and entrepreneurs determined to become the best they can be, both academically and economically.
But with all that Brampton represents and contributes to the provincial and federal governments, instead of using it as the launch-pad for their political parties’ election campaigns, they need to make investments to move the community forward.
Brampton MPPs have been busy inside Queen's Park as a pair of bills hit the floor touching on issues very close to the city.
Motivated by lobbying from the Sikh Motorcycle Club of Ontario, Prabmeet Sarkaria (Brampton South) tabled a bill earlier this month—with club members present—that would exempt turban-wearing Sikh motorcyclists from the helmet requirement. That bill arrived on the floor for second reading earlier this week receiving discussion and support from both sides of the aisle.
At the same time MPP Gurratan Singh brought forward his own bill looking to tackle Brampton's sky-high auto insurance rates.
The PC government’s universities minister had no answer Thursday to pointed questions about how much money had already been sunk into three university campus projects before their provincial funding was abruptly cancelled this week.
A City of Brampton official said its planned Ryerson University campus and an accompanying innovation centre project will move forward, though it’s not clear how it will make up the $90 million contribution promised by the previous government.
The city’s two PC MPPs are echoing the party line, claiming a budget deficit made the cuts necessary, despite projections that the campuses would be huge revenue generators.
Brampton’s two Tory MPPs remained silent Wednesday on the loss of $90 million promised for a Ryerson University campus in the city—cancelled within a day of Patrick Brown’s win in the mayoral election. Meanwhile, inside Queen's Park NDP leader Andrea Horwath and three Brampton NDP members of the legislature were calling the move myopic and disastrous for the city’s economic plans.
The Doug Ford government claims the money promised by the former Liberal government—and cheered recently by some Tory MPPs whose constituents stood to gain a new campus—was too much for the province’s strained budget.
After Doug Ford's government made its shocking announcement Tuesday night, pulling $90 million in funding for a new Brampton university campus that had been approved by the previous Liberal government, councillors say they are committed to finding alternative ways to pay for the project.
Critics of the decision to pull the provincial funding say the university would be a huge economic benefit for the city, and that the project is far too important to abandon.
“It’s not the Brampton I thought I knew,” one-term mayor Linda Jeffrey said Monday night in expressing her disappointment at the surprising ascendancy of her late rival in the race, former PC leader and newly repatriated Bramptonite Patrick Brown.
Jeffrey replaced a controversy-plagued mayor with promises to straighten out the financial mess at city hall. Despite her early successes at doing just that, she stumbled when it came to solving the bigger problem: a fractious council whose squabbling left residents disillusioned with her leadership. On Monday, voters opted, however narrowly, to give Brown a chance to do better.
In stunning fashion, Patrick Brown completes a spectacular political comeback, defeating incumbent Linda Jeffrey to become Brampton’s next mayor. Some 44 percent of the vote was enough to seal the deal, completing a campaign that has been both divisive and a clear view into the issues affecting the city.
In a victory speech before a cheering crowd, Brown recounted a number of these issues, while also delivering his message for the future.
Charmaine Williams, seen here, is one of the new Brampton councillors who will lead the city. While attention was focused on the Brown-Jeffrey matchup as the election drew to a close Monday night, there were exciting changes happening at the ward level.
Four fresh faces on council, boosting diversity at city hall, and a new mayor may significantly change the dynamic in the coming four years — if old divisions on issues such as transit don’t begin to play out all over again.
Can Patrick Brown rise above the petty political in-fighting that has ruined the chance to rule by the last two mayors in office, and find common ground? Can he set aside campaign nastiness for the kind of teamwork that made a couple of people named Davis so successful in their political and sporting lives? He will answer these questions very soon after his impressive win that makes him the 51st mayor in the history of Brampton.
One possible move, involving his recently vanquished opponent, could be a win-win for everyone, especially for the city.