Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi is questioning the decision by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs to not take action following a forensic audit into Councillor Joe Magliocca’s expenses.
The audit, conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC), into the Ward 2 councillor’s expenses found $5,657 in what have been deemed ineligible expenses for hotel rooms, meals and other costs over the last two years.
In July, city council voted to send the results of the audit to Calgary police and Minister of Municipal Affairs Kaycee Madu.
Calgary police have since forwarded the findings to the RCMP, who confirmed this week that they would be investigating the expenses further.
Madu later said that he did not have the authority under the Municipal Government Act to intervene in the investigation.
On Thursday, Calgary’s mayor said he disagreed with Madu, and that he believes the findings of the audit warrant an inquiry from the ministry.
“The minister of municipal affairs loves to talk about how he’s the boss of the city, and that he has powers,” Nenshi said. “Well if you’re ever going to use those powers, how about using them in an opportunity where there has been a serious and significant breach of our code of conduct.”
Madu responded to Nenshi’s comments in a statement to Global News on Friday and said that he thinks it’s up to city council to fix its own rules for councillor expenses.
“Calgary needs to take some responsibility, tighten up its internal spending rules and do a better job at protecting taxpayer dollars — it’s as simple as that,” Madu said in a statement.
“I get calls every day to fire various folks for various reasons, including the Mayor of Calgary, but as Mayor Nenshi himself has said about this situation, ‘Voters are the arbiters of this.’”
Madu’s statement went on to say that the fate of all politicians should be and is in the hands of Alberta voters.
Nenshi has said that removing Magliocca from his position as councillor for Ward 2 is not his decision to make and is up to voters to decide.
According to Elections Calgary, the next municipal election is set for October 18, 2021.
There are certain circumstances that would allow the minister to dismiss members of municipal council, according to the Municipal Government Act.
Councillors can be removed if the minister launches an inspection or inquiry to determine whether there was “improper, irregular or improvident” management within the municipality.
The act states that if issues are found, the minister can issue directives to council to address those concerns, and a councillor can be dismissed if the directives aren’t implemented within 14 days.
The act also states that a councillor can also be removed if they are convicted of an offence punishable by imprisonment for five years or more, or certain offences under the Criminal Code such as corruption.
“We’ve done the investigation for him under the Municipal Government Act; he now gets to deal with that investigation,” Nenshi said.
The forensic audit — prompted by a Postmedia investigation into Magliocca’s expenses at last year’s Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) conference in Quebec City — looked into the $36,687 Magliocca expensed between March 2020 the beginning of his current term in October 2017.
The expense probe found several irregularities in Magliocca’s expenses, including 11 separate occasions in which Magliocca expensed meals and drinks for people who later told investigators they did not meet with the councillor.
The auditors found 16 hosting events totalling $1,478.34 in which Magliocca did not provide the names of those in attendance, a requirement under the city’s expense policy.
The investigation also found that Magliocca upgraded his seat to business class or premium on seven flights at a cost of $8,866.78 — costs the audit recommended the city look into further.
Magliocca has since voluntarily repaid $6,220.66 to the city.
Calgary councillors decided to impose sanctions on Magliocca, which include training on council expense policies and a ban on expensing business travel until the end of his term.
Magliocca has also been directed to make a public apology; his third this year linked to his expenses.
“He has to give an apology,” Nenshi said.
“Council has been very clear about that, that a public apology is requested and desired.”
Magliocca’s office has not responded to Global News’ repeated requests for comment.