2nd Brampton meeting abandoned in 3 days due to council feuding

Entrance to Brampton City Hall. Global News

The political impasse that saw governance in the City of Brampton grind to a halt on Wednesday has continued, with councillors forced to abandon a second meeting on Friday.

Friday’s meeting was a near carbon copy of Wednesday’s.

A regular meeting of Brampton city council was due to take place Wednesday but could not begin after the minimum number of councillors, six, failed to attend.

A group of five councillors who have aligned against Mayor Patrick Brown — who is currently juggling a bid to become the Conservative Party of Canada’s leader with his mayoral duties — accused him of deliberately bringing the Wednesday meeting to “a grinding halt.”

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The five councillors who have opposed Brown are Jeff Bowman, Gurpreet Dhillon, Pat Fortini, Martin Medeiros and Doug Whillans. Brown is supported by four other councillors: Michael Palleschi, Rowena Santos, Harkirat Singh and Paul Vincente.

Neither group has a majority or enough members to hold a legitimate council meeting.

Charmaine Williams, who won Brampton Centre for the PC Party of Ontario in the provincial election on June 2, previously gave Bowman, Dhillon, Fortini, Medeiros and Whillans a majority.

A plan to replace her with former Brampton councillor Elaine Moore for the remainder of the council term is at the heart of the current political drama in Brampton.

After Brown, Palleschi, Santos, Singh and Vicente failed to attend Brampton’s Friday council meeting, the second no-show in three days, both groups released statements.

The bloc opposed to Brown accused the mayor and his allies of wasting taxpayer money by failing to attend official city meetings, suggesting the mayor’s leadership bid was impacting his ability to lead at city hall.

“His no-show at Wednesday’s Council meeting resulted in a lack of quorum, the cancellation of important City business, and a huge waste of taxpayers’ money as staff who showed up expecting to work, stood idly by watching helplessly as the charade unfolded,” the statement said.

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“It is unconscionable that Patrick Brown would resort to this extreme political trickery in order to orchestrate his coup of democracy.”

Brown and his allies continue to allege a motion to replace Williams with Moore before the former resigned violates the provincial laws that govern municipalities.

Brampton’s city clerk and solicitor both suggested the motion to appoint Williams’ successor, which she voted upon, could be problematic.

“There are five Members of Council who are trying to appoint one of their cronies that is against the Municipal Act,” the mayor and four councillors wrote. “They want to cover up their wrongful dismissal of the City Solicitor for opposing the breach of the Municipal Act.”

Global News confirmed that Sameer Ahtar, the city solicitor, is no longer employed by the City of Brampton.

With Moore’s appointment not finalized, neither group of five has a clear majority and both could theoretically tank council meetings by refusing to attend.

It is unclear how many meetings could be cancelled over the council split and when or how it will be resolved.

The city’s calendar remains busy, with several key committee meetings in June. There are council meetings scheduled for July 4, 6 and 25.

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Global News contacted staff at the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing to ask if they were aware of the situation but did not immediately receive a response.

The two blocks of councillors formed publicly in 2022 over several key issues, including a plan to create a university in the city called BramptonU.

During a fierce debate over governance and staffing in February, Bowman, Dhillon, Medeiros, Fortini, Whillans and Williams issued a statement alleging Brown’s actions meant democracy in Brampton was “under siege.”

The six councillors (now five without Williams) refused to attend a February meeting, causing it to be called off.

Councillors recently ordered a forensic audit of the activity and contracts around the stalled plan to create a university after it was revealed contracts for the project were won by people with ties to Brown and Santos.

“It truly is a sad day for democracy when we have no definitive answer for residents and other interested parties who call us up and ask, ‘Will Patrick be at the next Council meeting, we have an important item on the agenda that we need resolved,'” Bowman, Dhillon, Fortini, Medeiros and Whillans wrote.

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