Bra protest at Rick Chiarelli’s office demands law to remove councilors for misconduct

Colorful bras hung from the trees outside the Ottawa City Coun district office. Rick Chiarelli in Nepean on Thursday, as protesters again called for him to be removed from office.

The embattled college councilor has faced multiple allegations of harassment since CBC began breaking stories of inappropriate behavior in 2019, including pressuring employees and job applicants to go braless at certain work events.

A sixth complainant recently came to CBC with new allegations, including that in 2014 Chiarelli launched a weeklong campaign to pressure her to have oral sex with a stranger in exchange for cash, and also forced her to go out on a date. date a potential contact.

Integrity Commissioner Karen Shepherd has launched a formal investigation into the woman’s complaints.

The protesters outside Chiarelli’s office said on Thursday they want the county to pass legislation that would allow municipalities to oust councilors who, like Chiarelli, have committed misconduct.

While an investigation into the most recent allegations is underway, two previous investigations by the integrity commissioner found Chiarelli’s behavior qualified as harassment under city policy.

“These bras here kind of represent how he’s still there,” said former Chiarelli employee Stephanie Dobbs. “Reminding people how ridiculous it is that someone got away with this.”

This is the second bra-hanging protest over Chiarelli – the first was held outside City Hall in 2019 after the first stories came out. Dobbs, who formally complained about Chiarelli’s behavior at the time, said it is difficult to reckon with the fact that the councilor has not been removed from office.

Former Rick Chiarelli employee Stephanie Dobbs says the county should develop laws to allow city councils to remove councilors who have committed misconduct. (CBC/Francis Ferland)

Bill to remove councilors for misconduct dies

A bill that would meet protesters’ demands died earlier this week as the provincial government was dissolved and the provincial election campaign began.

Bill 10, introduced as a private member’s bill by Orleans MPP Stephen Blais – Chiarelli’s former colleague on the Ottawa City Council – would have allowed the removal of councilors who violate the code of conduct by failing to adhere to policies on violence at the workplace or harassment.

It had only passed its second reading when the provincial legislature was dissolved this week.

“It’s just really disturbing that we have to fight so hard for something that seems very basic to me,” Dobbs said.

The highest sanction the city’s integrity commissioner may recommend is a 90-day pay suspension. In November 2020, the council voted unanimously to grant Chiarelli five 90-day suspensions, one for each of the five formal complaints under investigation at the time. He was suspended with pay for a total of 450 days.

The Ottawa City Council urged Chiarelli to resign, but the councilor declined.

VIEW | Protesters hope for law change as Rick Chiarelli stays in office

Protesters hope for law change as Rick Chiarelli stays in office

Stephanie Dobbs, a former Chiarelli staffer, and Erin Leigh, executive director of the Ottawa Coalition to End Violence Against Women, said they were disappointed that provincial legislation to remove councilors for misconduct was not passed before the election. 1:02

Need for new rules on election issue, proponents say

With the election approaching, proponents say they don’t want Bill 10 forgotten.

“We want every candidate to say how much they care about this issue… so that if elected, they will prioritize when the session starts,” said Erin Leigh, executive director of the Ottawa Coalition To End Violence Against Women.

Erin Leigh is the Executive Director of the Ottawa Coalition to End Violence Against Women. (CBC/Francis Ferland)

Leigh said she hopes legislation like Bill 10 will come before the county and get unanimous approval.

“We need to make sure that gross acts of violence and abuse are not tolerated. Right now it’s sending the message that it’s okay, and abusive lawmakers are making abuse laws.”

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