KPMG report shows Patrick Brown & Rowena Santos fabricated political attacks against Jeff Bowman and volunteers at historic Bovaird House
“[A]n egregious, flagrant conflict of interest for a councillor, who's no longer at this table; they embarrassed the city of Brampton.”
That was the latest attack, on November 15, levelled by Patrick Brown against Jeff Bowman, the former councillor who played a leading role in the investigations of Brown for allegations of widespread wrongdoing inside City Hall, before the mayor cancelled the external probes last year.
“When the Mayor stated that a councilor had ‘an [egregious] and flagrant conflict of interest’ that was patently untrue in my case,” Bowman told The Pointer, following the release of a report that shows Brown made false accusations against the former councillor.
Around the time in 2022 when Bowman and a majority of councillors began to demand accountability, Brown and his main council ally Rowena Santos began making unsubstantiated accusations against Bowman related to his support of Historic Bovaird House, a City-owned attraction that allows visitors to see what early farming traditions in the area looked like.
A week after Brown’s false claims on November 15, a report by KPMG dated October 3, was presented to council members, detailing its investigation into the funding and management of Historic Bovaird House. Contrary to Brown’s false accusations, KPMG found no irregularities and no violation of City rules or policies in the funding and management of Bovaird House. And it found no conflict of interest.
His latest misleading claims were made a week earlier, when the issue of funding for Historic Bovaird House was being discussed, with Brown alleging Bowman had violated conflict of interest rules when supporting efforts to maintain and improve the historic farm site. He had started attacking Bowman almost two years ago, when the former councillor helped lead the process to investigate Brown and Santos for procurement and hiring irregularities and their own alleged conflict in the handing of lucrative City contracts to their friends.
Brown and Santos eventually took advantage of councillor absences and cancelled a half-dozen investigations, including those that directly involved their own questionable conduct, shortly before the 2022 election, preventing voters from learning the truth before ballots were cast.
They had for much of 2022 claimed Bowman, after he and other councillors took action on numerous allegations against Brown, was somehow in a conflict for advocating to support the Historic Bovaird House. Shortly after the October 2022 municipal election, when Bowman decided not to run again, Brown and Santos led an effort to investigate the purchase of a barn by the City that was first contemplated more than a decade ago (before Bowman joined council in 2014) to be reconstructed on the Bovaird House site. In 2021 Bowman, who had supported the work of volunteers to make the historic venue a popular destination for anyone interested in Brampton’s history, voted to allocate funding that had already been approved so the barn could finally be relocated and reconstructed.
Accounting firm KPMG was hired to probe claims by Brown and his allies, and reported its findings last week after an extensive review of Bovaird House and the funding for the barn that was acquired by the City to be added to the historic site where Brampton’s farming traditions are featured as an attraction for visitors. The firm concluded “the approval process for the Barn was found to be consistent with the City’s policies” and that “the amounts that were spent did not exceed the amounts approved.”
KPMG found no conflict of interest by any member of council and reviewed a number of other accountability and code of conduct policies to see if any of them were violated in any way when matters around Bovaird House were dealt with by council members, staff and volunteers who help run Bovaird House: “We did not find information suggesting City Staff, City Councillors, BHB (Brampton Heritage Board) members or FHBH (Friends of Historic Bovaird House) members failed to comply with the relevant policies.”
The report is dated October 3 and was presented on November 22, raising questions about how Brown could have made his false claims just one week prior.
Bowman told The Pointer Brown’s accusations against him were “totally inaccurate,” and said he considers them to be inflammatory. “I felt they were meant to cast aspersions as to my credibility,” Bowman wrote in an email to The Pointer. The report, “very clearly states there were no conflicts of interest.”
The KPMG report was completed six weeks before Brown made his false remarks on November 15, and states the firm had “not found any evidence” that Bowman “gained financially from decisions related to the Robinson Barn.” It also states KPMG did “not find any information that the FHBH volunteers can personally gain financially from decisions related to the Robinson Barn.” It did not find “any information that the City policies specifically prohibit City Councillors’ family members from volunteering with organizations that are affiliated with the City,” clearing Bowman of conflict accusations Brown made related to the former councillor’s wife’s volunteer work with Bovaird House.
Brown, who has repeatedly used his position as mayor to make public claims denigrating Bowman and volunteers at Bovaird House has recently claimed “national media” attention on the issue has been an embarrassment to the City and has hurt its reputation. The Pointer could not find any “national media” coverage of the issue, while local coverage was driven by Brown himself.
“This debacle embarrassed the City of Brampton, it can never happen again,” Brown said on November 15.
Historic Bovaird House was given to the City in 1985 and offers a space for the Brampton community to learn about the area’s post-colonial farming history, showcasing pioneer-era agricultural equipment and the lifestyle of those who settled here in the 1800s through the mid-1900s, hosting public events to bring this bygone culture to life. It is designated as a cultural heritage resource under the Ontario Heritage Act, meaning its conservation is protected legislatively.
Council members aligned with Brown suddenly began questioning the City’s funding of the site and the reconstruction of the Robinson Barn, originally located in Caledon, at the Historic Bovaird Site in Brampton. When Bowman brought forward a motion to allocate funding that had already been approved, under direction of staff, Brown and Santos began making public accusations of wrongdoing and questioned the conduct of volunteer board members. KPMG was hired following a December 2022 council meeting where all payments for the Robinson Barn project were immediately suspended, “to gather information in connection with a review of the acquisition and planned relocation of the historic Robinson barn…as well as other specific related matters.”
Even after hearing the presentation on the report November 22, Brown claimed the matter “brought the City into disrepute” failing to admit it was his own public campaign that made these accusations, after Bowman was part of an effort to investigate far reaching allegations of misconduct under Brown’s leadership.
But it was his false remarks about Bowman, weeks after the KPMG report cleared him, that are most concerning.
Brown has a history of lying publicly.
He made false remarks in the media about the reason why Guelph-Humber pulled out of a planned post-secondary expansion in the city.
He lied about COVID-19 testing numbers in the city during the pandemic.
As PC leader, the province’s integrity commissioner found Brown tried to purposely mislead him about personal financial details.
Table setup for Mother’s Day function at Historic Bovaird House in 2018.
(Historic Bovaird House)
The Pointer reached out to the City about when the KPMG report was first provided to council members for review. No response was provided. Brown was asked if he received the KPMG report before making his comments at the November 15 and 22 meetings. The Pointer has not received a response.
Bowman said the KPMG report “really contained no new information that previous councils were not aware of.” He said that as a designated cultural heritage property, the City “has to maintain the property and the buildings, and these costs should in no way be associated [with] the volunteers that run the site.” Bowman was a council member for Wards 3 and 4 last term and did not run for reelection in 2022.
In addition to assessing the source of funding and the approval process for the Robinson Barn relocation and construction, KPMG also reviewed Friends of Historic Bovaird House and its relationship with the Brampton Heritage Board and the City. It looked at expenses, assessed compliance with the City’s Conflict of Interest Policy and identified the funding source for the “acquisition and construction” of the Pendergast Log Cabin.
It found all of FHBH’s finances have been in order and all of its records matched the City’s, regarding budget items and the overall management of funds.
The only matter it flagged for attention by the City was the lack of reporting between staff and FHBH executives; KPMG recommended the City and the volunteer organization that runs its site establish a clear reporting structure to better manage operations, capital needs and funding.
While Brown has made false accusations that appear to be politically motivated, he has defended the complete lack of oversight and total breakdown of accountability under his leadership at City Hall. He repeatedly lied on iHeartRadio’s Jerry Agar Show where he insisted a Deloitte investigation found no wrongdoing involving the City’s failed Brampton University project. The Deloitte report, released in September 2021, did not even look into the matter, which involved more than $630,000 of contracts given to friends of Brown and Santos, for work that was never done. Councillors did not know about the connections and three times what was approved for one of the contracts was eventually paid out to Brown’s friend (he later cancelled a separate investigation into Brampton University).
What Brown failed to mention on the show was that Deloitte found shocking conduct under Brown’s watch, including the hiring of directors who were supposed to be engineers, to oversee critical infrastructure, that had no such experience (one did not even have a university degree).
Brown told Agar another lie, that the City’s Integrity Commissioner looked into the allegations and found no wrongdoing. However, as The Pointer reported, when Brown cancelled the university investigation, he also called for the City’s integrity commissioner to review the allegations but was told that role does not have the jurisdiction to carry out such an investigation. Brown made yet another lie on the show, claiming an internal audit probe looked into the university allegations, revealing no wrongdoing, when in fact the City’s internal audit department never did any such investigation of the Brampton University file.
Froese Forensic, the external firm hired by a majority of councillors last term to do the external investigation, did, however, find widespread wrongdoing, before Brown cancelled that investigation.
A KPMG investigation found no irregularities and no violation of City rules or policies in the funding and management of Bovaird House, despite claims from Mayor Patrick Brown.
(The Pointer Files)
In its review of whether the funding for the Robinson Barn relocation and construction was approved and its determination of the source of funding, KPMG reported the following: “We reviewed the process and information presented as part of that approval process by City Council and did not identify any irregularities or inconsistencies in relation to the City’s processes.”
The Robinson Barn as it stood in Caledon before being dismantled for relocation and reconstruction at the Historic Bovaird site.
(Historic Bovaird House)
After Brown publicly maligned Bovaird House volunteers early this year, falsely accusing them of mismanagement, which the KPMG report refutes, the organization’s future remains unclear.
There has been no mention of the plan to reconstruct the Robinson Barn, which was put on hold when Brown and Santos launched the investigation that proved their accusations were false.
Email: [email protected]
At a time when vital public information is needed by everyone, The Pointer has taken down our paywall on all stories to ensure every resident of Brampton, Mississauga and Niagara has access to the facts. For those who are able, we encourage you to consider a subscription. This will help us report on important public interest issues the community needs to know about now more than ever. You can register for a 30-day free trial HERE. Thereafter, The Pointer will charge $10 a month and you can cancel any time right on the website. Thank you
Submit a correction about this story