Ottawa city council defers Coun. Rick Chiarelli’s request for leave

Ottawa city council voted Wednesday to table councillor Rick Chiarelli's request for medical leave after Chiarelli made the request a month after being rushed to hospital. Beatrice Britneff / Global News File

Ottawa city councillors elected on Wednesday not to grant Coun. Rick Chiarelli’s request for medical leave, choosing instead to table the matter until more information is available.

Chiarelli submitted the request on Tuesday, saying he was rushed to hospital on Aug. 14. According to a release, Chiarelli says he was unable to formalize the process until Tuesday due to his illness.

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The motion at council to allow Chiarelli’s leave faced a small hiccup when there was a lack of seconder on the motion – according to council rules, there needs to be one councillor to introduce the motion and another to second it before it goes to vote.

Mayor Jim Watson spoke about the vote after city council on Wednesday.

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“The process is working as it should and any time there’s a complaint from an integrity point of view it’s examined,” Watson said.

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Watson suggested there may be confusion about the request for medical leave due to recent allegations made against Chiarelli.

“I think you saw it with the reluctance of people to even second the motion that, clearly, people are feeling awkward and uncomfortable because of the allegations and the severity of the allegations against Councillor Chiarelli.”

Media reports say Chiarelli faces allegations of sexual harassment stemming from inappropriate comments allegedly made during a job interview. The city’s Integrity Commissioner has neither confirmed nor denied they received a complaint, citing privacy rules.

According to city solicitor Rick O’Connor, if Chiarelli misses three consecutive months of council meetings without permission his seat will be deemed vacated.

Chiarelli has until Oct. 9 to produce more information about why he is requesting a leave of absence.

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