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Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown denies allegations paid city staff are working on his Conservative leadership campaign
June 20, 2022
Graeme Frisque

Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown has responded to allegations made by Rebel News and five city councillors that paid city employees are working on his campaign during working hours.

The allegations first surfaced in a video posted on YouTube and social media by Rebel News earlier in June.

They were repeated in a joint statement from five city councillors released in response to a cancelled council meeting on June 15 after Brown and four councillors didn’t attend.

The statement, written and signed by councillors Martin Medeiros, Jeff Bowman, Pat Fortini, Gurpreet Dhillon and Doug Whillans, read:

“The latest evidence of wrongdoing, showing that Brown has been using taxpayer-funded City Hall staff to work on his federal campaign to become the Conservative leader came as no surprise to us and members of the public who have watched for four years as the media have reported on irregularities in hiring and procurements.”

In a statement to the Brampton Guardian, Brown confirmed some members of his office staff are volunteering on his campaign but denied allegations that they are doing so while being paid by the city during working hours.

“No, we have a clear rule. No city employees can volunteer during work hours on any election campaign or leadership. This goes for provincial and federal elections as well,” he said. “They are entitled to volunteer for any cause they believe in during non-working hours.”

In their video, Rebel News claimed that Brown’s chief of staff, Babu Nagalingam, and other members of the mayor’s office staff were working on his campaign on the taxpayers' dime.

Rebel showed a video that reportedly showed Nagalingam’s SUV in the parking lot of Brown’s Vaughan campaign office during normal city working hours, and alleged that there was proof that Nagalingam was working on the campaign in violation of the city’s Council Code of Conduct.

Rebel’s video did not appear to show evidence of any other members of Brown’s office staff they identified as allegedly working on his campaign in violation of the code, which stipulates that councillors running for office at any level of government can't use city resources for their campaign, including city staff members while they're on the clock and being paid by the city.

Rebel Media alleged that some of the other members of the mayor's office staff have travelled with Brown on campaign trips, and reported that some of those staffers have denied those allegations while others didn't respond.

However, Brown did address the video that allegedly showed Nagalingam’s SUV in the parking lot, according to Rebel Media, and claims he was there on his own time.

“Babu was (on) unpaid leave from the city during that video. He had registered two weeks off with HR. Any staff member who wishes to work on campaigns can’t do so during working hours. They must take unpaid time off work or do (so) during evenings or weekends. We have a strict policy at city hall,” the mayor said.

According to recent reporting from the Brampton Guardian's sister paper, the Toronto Star, a backer of Pierre Poilievre, who is one of one Brown's opponents in the leadership race, has asked the Commissioner of Canada Elections to investigate the allegations. The Star obtained a copy of the letter to the commissioner, signed by Alberta MP Chris Warkentin.

"In light of the apparent violations of the Canada Elections Act, I respectfully request that Elections Canada investigate, and take such enforcement steps as may be warranted," read the letter.