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COMMENTARY: Mayor, councillors release statements on Chiarelli allegations

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson speaks in Ottawa on Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Mayor Jim Watson and four City of Ottawa councillors released statements on Thursday in response to allegations against Coun. Rick Chiarelli uncovered in media reports.

Watson’s statement was made jointly with Coun. Theresa Kavanagh, the city’s liaison for women and gender equity, and outlines their thoughts on the allegations.

“To say that we are disturbed to hear the latest allegations regarding Councillor Chiarelli would be a gross understatement,” said Watson in the statement. “There are really no words to describe our disappointment.”

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“All city employees, including employees of elected officials, have the right to a workplace that is free of harassment.”

In another joint statement released shortly after, Couns. Shawn Menard, Catherine McKenney and Jeff Leiper called for Chiarelli to resign and apologize if he knows the allegations are accurate.

“The accounts being reported in the media regarding Councillor Chiarelli are degrading and completely inappropriate,” the councillors said in their statement. “We commend these women for coming forward.”

The councillors went on to say that more protections should be put into place so that staff that experience or witness inappropriate behaviour have the means to protect themselves from retribution should they come forward.

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The city’s integrity commissioner has not confirmed or denied that there is an investigation, citing privacy rules.

Chiarelli’s lawyer has called the allegations “spurious.”

Just yesterday, city council decided, with advice from staff, to table a medical leave of absence request from Chiarelli until he can produce more information on his medical reasoning.

In the interim, council has voted to split his ward responsibilities between Couns. Hubley and Moffatt until the leave is formalized or Chiarelli returns.

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