Spinners and losers: Patrick Brown’s misleading narrative around David Barrick
Left: Doug Draper-Niagara At Large/Right: Screengrab YouTube

Spinners and losers: Patrick Brown’s misleading narrative around David Barrick

David Barrick walked out of Brampton City Hall for the last time under a dark cloud, literally and metaphorically. A steady, depressing rain fell on the disgraced former CAO last Friday afternoon, as he carried his belongings out the door.

The man brought to Brampton by Mayor Patrick Brown, specifically to do his bidding, was replaced.

His departure—filled in the interim by bylaw director Paul Morrison on February 11—was the culmination of a dramatic week in Brampton. Two days earlier, a group of six councillors, a majority of members, wrote a stunning open letter that said democracy in Canada’s ninth largest city was “under siege” and that the administration was being run “like a scene from an authoritarian dictatorship”.

The author of this “authoritarian” decline is Patrick Brown. Barrick was merely his pawn, tapped by the mayor to do exactly what he had done prior to his arrival in Brampton.

Top, citizens in Niagara protested to have David Barrick fired when he was the head of the local conservation authority; citizens in Brampton demanded Barrick be fired as CAO after scathing evidence detailing his alleged misconduct was released.

(Doug Draper-Niagara At Large/Screengrab YouTube)


And now, the misleading story Brown is spinning is meant to leave another unwitting organization vulnerable to hiring Barrick.

The entire saga, for those who have followed Barrick’s relatively short career in the public sector, was eerily similar to what happened in Niagara a few years ago.

He was part of a Conservative cabal there with direct links to Brown.

Barrick was driven out of the region by citizens there who were outraged, first by his strongman tactics as a Port Colborne councillor who also served Niagara, scheming to get a fellow member of the conservative cabal both belonged to into the Region’s CAO chair, and then abusing his authority at the local conservation agency where he also worked—thanks to his friends on the board who got him the job.

His time running the small agency was so mired in scandal that citizens took to the streets to demand his removal. He refused to explain to regional council how millions of dollars under his control at the conservation authority were spent, after the budget he presented included holes big enough to drive a truck through.

Ontario Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk released a brutal report on the Niagara conservation authority, covering Barrick’s time there, revealing that while he was briefly the CAO, after the former head was given the same job at the Region, lavish spending on staff skyrocketed, board members interfered in day-to-day operations, spending on administrative costs jumped while funding for conservation plummeted, and Barrick’s original hiring by the organization was essentially rigged by the board, which then allowed him to simultaneously serve as an elected official, creating a blatant conflict of interest.

It was the wild west.

Flash forward to his equally alarming time inside Brampton City Hall and the constant revelations of his disturbing conduct as CAO. Once again, like déjà vu, citizens took to the streets demanding he be removed.

The 2022 budget he presented in December was so blindingly bad that Brampton’s Board of Trade, representing hundreds of local businesses, publicly stated it had lost trust in City Hall under Barrick’s doomed leadership.

Millions of dollars were not allocated, meaning they can be spent on the fly, for pet projects, unexpected contracts and previously unapproved consulting work, without the usual due diligence required when council members scrutinize every dollar coming out of public accounts.

Barrick was at the centre of repeated scandals during his tenure from October 2019 to February 2022, following his implication in the damning “Inside Job” investigation report by the Ontario Ombudsman for his role in the rigged CAO hiring in Niagara.

Like his own glaringly incomplete resume (he had never even managed a small municipal department before somehow becoming CAO of Canada’s ninth largest city) Barrick hired completely unqualified people to senior positions in Brampton. He illegally attempted to take control of the freedom of information process and stripped the internal audit department of its independence. Contracts were handed to people directly linked to Barrick and Mayor Patrick Brown, who had secretly orchestrated the CAO’s hiring. Both were part of the same Conservative political circle that had subverted Niagara’s conservation authority and conspired to get Barrcick’s boss there the CAO job running regional government.

A bloc of six Brampton councillors—Jeff Bowman, Charmaine Williams, Gurpreet Dhillon, Pat Fortini, Martin Medeiros and Doug Whillans—took aim at Barrick in their courageous open letter. “Some local elected members of Council and certain senior staff hired during the current term have taken a blowtorch to the rules that are supposed to govern our city.”

It continued: “Staff complaints have been swept aside under the current bureaucratic leadership, public accountability functions protected by provincial law have been trampled on and matters that should be debated with the full participation of the public are routinely forced into closed-door meetings, which is against the rules that govern Council procedure.”

Barrick did not respond to questions.

David Barrick was Brampton CAO for just over two years.

(Screengrab YouTube-City of Brampton)


Since his departure, Brown has engaged in spin and his own damage control, as Conservatives monitor what the federal leadership hopeful has learned since denying allegations of sexual misconduct and of a rigged nomination process, which toppled the hyper-ambitious politician from the Ontario PCs in 2018, right before that year’s election.

“Our Council thanks and acknowledges David Barrick as he moves on to new opportunities, for his contributions to our organization and community,” a media release from the City of Brampton gushed. It was the opposite sentiment laid out so convincingly in the statement a majority of council members had signed just two days earlier.

Brown has been trying to mislead the public since.

“We thank David Barrick for his service to the City over the past two years,” Brown said at a Wednesday press conference. He avoided answering a question posed to him by a local reporter: what was the reason for Barrick’s sudden departure?

Brown has instead publicly said Barrick will even get a letter of reference from the City. It’s unclear under whose authority such a letter would be issued, for a man the majority of councillors could no longer work with.

Patrick Brown is misrepresenting David Barrick’s terrible leadership, after the mayor had him hired.

(Screengrab YouTube-City of Brampton)


When Barrick left Niagara, he was allowed to write his own reference letter. 

“I am proud of what I was able to accomplish during my tenure with the NPCA,” he wrote in a release announcing his departure by “mutual agreement” in February 2019 (He had been fired before Conservative allies on the board briefly rehired him). “The net surpluses add to the overall financial health of the organization, increased investment in capital have been made and operational reserves have been replenished.” 

His claims were an affront to the majority of Niagara Regional council members and other elected officials who were outraged over his brief management of the conservation authority.

“I am profoundly disappointed that the interim chief administrative officer is not here,” Hamilton-area councillor Brad Clark said when Barrick refused to answer questions about the conservation authority budget in 2019. He didn’t even show up to the Hamilton Council meeting when members were being asked to approve funding for the laughable budget Barrick put forward. “I had questions for him that I think we should have been able to ask… in my opinion [it] is disrespectful to this council. The chief administrative officer should be here to answer the questions.”

Despite his woeful tenure in Niagara and implication in the Ombudsman investigation, Brown immediately recruited him. Brampton Councillors at the time said they were not informed about Barrick’s controversial past and he was recommended by recruitment firm Feldman Daxon, which was hand-picked by Brown to replace the firm that was originally supposed to find CAO candidates.

Brown chaired the hiring committee that selected Barrick, convinced others he was the right person for the job and had his chief of staff copied into all email correspondences about the recruitment.

Brown has refused to acknowledge Barrick was implicated in the Ombudsman’s damning investigation into the rigged hiring of Niagara’s former CAO, Carmen D’Angelo, who had been Barrick’s boss at the local conservation authority.

“[The] ombudsman named people who committed wrong doing,” Brown wrote in a comment on the Facebook group Brampton Beats in 2020. “Our CAO was not one of them.”

The claim was blatantly false. D’Angelo is the only person named in the Ombudsman’s report, to avoid confusion because he held multiple roles during the events described. Barrick is referred to as the councillor throughout the report, a link confirmed by the St. Catharine’s Standard, which also published the email from Barrick to a Niagara staffer (referenced in the Ombudsman report) showing he promised “influence” if the senior employee supported the scheme to get D’Angelo hired.

The Ombudsman report details an interview with the former senior Niagara employee: “... a councillor (Barrick) reached out to him to arrange a meeting to discuss Mr. D’Angelo as a ‘successor.’ The employee told us it was clear to him that Mr. D’Angelo was the councillor’s choice for the position; he said the councillor assured him that he could ‘get the votes’ to complete the hire.”

When Brown misled the public about the Ombud’s report he might have been trying to protect two other men who were hired in Brampton under his leadership. Jason Tamming and Robert D’Amboise behaved corruptly in the Niagara scheme while working for the Region, when they secretly gave D’Angelo the questions and answers for the CAO interview process in advance.

Tamming was fired and then hired under Brown to be Brampton’s head of strategic communications. D’Amboise was brought in to work directly under Barrick.

When Brown said the Ombud “named people who committed wrong doing”, this was blatantly false. Neither of the two individuals specifically responsible for the corruption and singled out for their wrong doing, were named. Both of them, Tamming and D’Amboise, were hired by the City of Brampton.

Brown even secretly used D’Amboise to do work for Peter MacKay’s 2020 federal Conservative leadership campaign, as Brampton taxpayers were unaware the mayor and Barrick were using City resources to advance Brown’s personal political ambitions. He used other City staff as well.

Brown and Barrick have refused to explain why they did this, after senior staffer Nikki Kaur released documents proving the mayor used staff in Barrick’s office to sell memberships for MacKay during work hours (Barrick fired Kaur the same day she released her allegations, but she was hired shortly after under direction from council).

Brown also took to Facebook claiming the Ontario Ombudsman “cleared” Tamming and D’Amboise, which is patently false.

“My investigation found that the Regional Municipality of Niagara’s 2016 hiring process for a new Chief Administrative Officer was compromised, as confidential information about other candidates and the interview process was improperly provided by staff to the candidate who was ultimately successful in the competition,” the Ombudsman wrote in his finding. Tamming and D’Amboise are specifically identified by the title each held and they are singled out as the “staff” who wrongly provided information to D’Angelo.

“I find that Niagara Region’s failure to preserve the integrity and fairness of the hiring process was unreasonable, unjust and wrong, in accordance with s. 21(b) and (d) of the Ombudsman Act.”

Now, as staffing changes begin in Brampton to repair years of damage caused by Brown, he is trying to present a false narrative around David Barrick’s time inside City Hall, as he did with Tamming and D’Amboise.

Liz Benneian has seen this movie before. She is the director of citizen group A Better Niagara that worked to uncover Barrick’s behaviour. The glowing words from Brown that followed Barrick out of City Hall in Brampton look very similar to his departure from Niagara.

“Everything was, well, paper over,” she told The Pointer. “All the controversy, all the issues, all the problems that were so apparent to the citizens were papered over in nice exit letters… It’s grossly unfair to citizens to have these things happen where all the bad stuff gets wallpapered over and everybody’s trying to be nice. Because what it allows is for these people who are incompetent or worse to continue to go from one job to the next, continue to get enormous public salaries paid for by taxpayers.”

When Brown said last week that City Council agreed to write Barrick a letter of reference, it was not clear where this information came from or, if true, whether Brown was allowed to disclose a condition of Barrick’s departure that might have been an in-camera matter, not meant to be divulged publicly. Discussions around an employee’s severance terms, including writing a letter of reference, are protected by in-camera rules. Brown did not respond to questions from The Pointer asking about his sharing of the information.

“Here in Niagara, it shot public trust to hell,” Ed Smith, executive director of A Better Niagara, said. “The citizen anger was measurable. It’s almost like people are still asking as they follow the story in Brampton, ‘What does it take to hold people accountable with our tax dollars?’”

Six councillors on the right—(clockwise) Gurpreet Dhillon, Jeff Bowman, Doug Whillans, Martin Medeiros, Charmaine Williams and Pat fortini—have aligned against Patrick Brown, Michael Palleschi, Harkirat Singh, Paul Vicente and Rowena Santos.

(Image from The Pointer files/City of Brampton)


As the bloc of six councillors clashed with the mayor and his four council allies—Rowena Santos, Paul Vicente, Michael Palleschi and Harkirat Singh—last week, it was clear that Brown, the chair of meetings, was the ringleader whose autocratic conduct was being addressed.

“If the chair simply does not want to listen to you, simply does not want to follow our own procedural bylaw, what in effect can we do?” Medeiros asked during a special meeting. “Do we have to call security? What do we do?”

Brown responded to the allegation against him. “I try my best as chair to administer our procedural bylaw.”

But as chair, he was not allowing the majority of council to take action on Barrick’s conduct. This was made clear in the open session of the special meeting when council members stated that the matters they were trying to address in camera dealt with Barrick’s conduct. The mayor has not responded to questions about why he would not allow motions to come forward in closed session meetings, despite a majority of councillors pushing for them.

Now, after defending Barrick for more than a year and after preventing a majority of councillors from taking action against the former CAO, Brown is trying to spin the public.

“In a motion moved by myself and seconded by all of Council, we have unanimously selected Paul Morrison to shepherd the City of Brampton through COVID-19 and our economic recovery,” Brown said in the media release announcing Barrick’s departure.

COVID-19 and its impacts were never the issues raised by the majority bloc of councillors. But Brown tried to deflect from the real issue, as they highlighted in their blistering, signed open letter last week—that democracy under Brown’s leadership is “under siege”.

Paul Morrison is Brampton’s interim CAO.

(Image from The Pointer files)


It’s not the first time Brown has airbrushed allegations about his heavy-handed leadership style.

In 2018, when he was leader of the Opposition during the election campaign when Party nominations in some ridings were still up for grabs, Brown wrote in an email to senior brass inside the PC Party to “get me the result I want'' five days before a nomination meeting in Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas. A senior staffer leaked the email to media and Brown then claimed he simply wanted all candidates to remain in the race, not for a particular candidate to be successful, leaving many shaking their head over his nonsensical explanation.

It was also revealed in 2018 that Brown quietly spent almost $300,000 on his provincial office between April 1 and June 7, doubling his staff during his final weeks at Queen’s Park before running to be Brampton mayor. "All my staff were legally and morally entitled to severance in my transition from leader of the Official Opposition to MPP to stepping down at the last general election," Brown explained, after the CBC revealed his excessive spending as Party leader.

His latest spin, trying to paint Barrick as a valued employee, after Brown hired the inexperienced former small town councillor to do his bidding—using City staff to work on political campaigns, handing out almost a million dollars in City contracts to Brown’s political associates, allowing huge taxpayer resources to be spent on the mayor’s publicity and self-promotion—is once again potentially putting the public at risk.

If David Barrick is allowed to once again abuse local taxpayers in Ontario, the politicians like Patrick Brown who mislead the public should be held accountable, Benneian says.

“The system kind of throws the burden on the citizens to remain dogmatic or relentlessly on top of the issues and keep pushing. [They] keep getting frustrated by [that] very system.”



Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @isaaccallan

Tel: 647 561-4879

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