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Toronto’s integrity commissioner ends investigation into Mayor John Tory due to election deadline

Click to play video: 'Toronto Mayor John Tory at center of integrity commissioner complaint' Toronto Mayor John Tory at center of integrity commissioner complaint
WATCH: Toronto Mayor John Tory at centre of integrity commissioner complaint – Jul 27, 2022

Toronto’s integrity commissioner says he will not be completing his conflict of interest investigation into the city’s Mayor John Tory before the deadline on Friday.

In an email to Global News on Wednesday, the city’s integrity commissioner, Jonathan Batty, said as it is a municipal election year, the City of Toronto Act requires all integrity commissioner inquiries to “terminate on August 19, 2022 whether or not they have been completed.”

Read more: Jays prez Shapiro says he supports ActiveTO

“It will not be feasible for me before August 19, 2022 to collect all the necessary evidence, complete the required analysis, formulate my findings and issue a report in connection with the inquiry I began on July 27, 2022,” Batty wrote.

He added that “at this point,” he has made “no determination one way or the other regarding whether a contravention of the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act has occurred.”

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“The fact that I will not be completing my inquiry by August 19, 2022 must not be interpreted otherwise,” he wrote.

Batty said that under the City of Toronto Act, the investigation can only resume if the applicant or respondent to the application requests that it be done in writing between Oct. 24 and Dec. 5, 2022.

Click to play video: 'Future of ActiveTO debated at Toronto City Council' Future of ActiveTO debated at Toronto City Council
Future of ActiveTO debated at Toronto City Council – Jun 15, 2022

A complaint, submitted by a civic activist, alleged Tory had a conflict of interest over his ties to Rogers Communications and a council decision to end regular ActiveTO road closures on Lake Shore Boulevard West.

In 2020, the city decided to close the eastbound portion of the six-lane roadway to allow for more space for the public to access the waterfront while social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns.

The ActiveTO closures continued less frequently during 2021 and have occurred twice in 2022 so far.

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On July 26, civic activist Adam Chaleff said he filed a formal complaint with the city’s integrity commissioner against Tory for participating in a council debate regarding ActiveTO.

In early June, Toronto Blue Jays CEO Mark Shapiro wrote an open letter to Toronto city councillors, urging them not to vote in favour of extending ActiveTO.

“On the days when ActiveTO has been in effect on Lake Shore, our local fans have experienced significant transit delays because traffic is grinded to a halt on all downtown routes,” the letter read.

Tory has a long association with Rogers Communications, which owns the Blue Jays. Tory was an executive for Rogers in the 1990s and still sits on the advisory committee of the family trust that controls Rogers.

Shapiro later said he supports ActiveTO, but wanted council to recalibrate the times and locations of the program.

Read more: Toronto’s integrity commissioner to investigate Mayor John Tory over ties to Rogers

In a series of tweets on last month, Chaleff said he believes Tory “contravened the Municipal Conflict of Interest act when he voted on and spoke about ending the Lake Shore Blvd. ActiveTO closure.”

“I believe that Tory has tried to serve two masters at the same time — Rogers and the public interest — which is what the MCIA is setup to prevent,” Chaleff wrote.

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In a statement emailed to Global News on Wednesday, Lawvin Hadisi, a spokesperson for Tory’s office, said the mayor’s “record on integrity speaks for itself,” adding that the “timing of the complaint is certainly revealing.”

“The Mayor has fully cooperated with the Integrity Commissioner’s review, and is highly confident he has complied with the law and acted appropriately and in good faith on this issue,” Hadisi said.

Hadisi said ActiveTO is a “traffic matter that affects thousands of businesses and hundreds of thousands of residents,” adding that Tory has “no reasonably discernable personal interest in it, direct or indirect.”

Hadisi said the mayor “respects the Integrity Commissioner and his process,” and would not be making further comment “at this time.”

In a statement emailed to Global News on Wednesday, Chaleff said he will request the integrity commissioner “resume his investigation into Mayor Tory’s ties to Rogers” after the election.

“Though I am disappointed that voters will not know the outcome of this investigation before they cast their ballots, I appreciate the Integrity Commissioner’s effort to conduct a full, fair and expeditious inquiry into Mayor Tory’s apparent conflict of interest,” he wrote.

— with files from Global News’ Isaac Callan and The Canadian Press

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