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Brampton poll finds strong support for charging ex-mayor Susan Fennell

Seven of 10 residents polled believe Fennell should face municipal fraud charges; under half are confident Linda Jeffrey will “clean up the mess” at city hall.
Jan. 20, 2015
By San Grewal

A new poll shows that seven out of 10 voters in Brampton believe former mayor Susan Fennell should be charged with municipal fraud for her role in the spending scandal that dominated city hall last year.

With an investigation by the Ontario Provincial Police into council spending still underway, Forum Research polled 843 Brampton residents on Thursday.

Following the results last summer of a forensic audit by Deloitte Canada that found Fennell and her staff violated city spending rules 266 times over seven years, 70 per cent of the poll’s respondents believe Fennell should be charged with municipal fraud. Seventeen per cent disagree and 13 per cent of respondents had no opinion.

After the audit results were reported, council clawed back $144,150 from Fennell’s city remuneration. The money was used to pay for trips taken using a private limousine service that Fennell has not proven were for city business. The council resolution states that Fennell will receive the money if she can provide documentation showing the car and driver were used to do her job.

Fennell has stated that she was cleared of the audit’s findings when a dispute resolution arbitrator dramatically reduced the total amount of expenses Deloitte had advised she pay back, from $34,118 to $3,523. (This did not include the $144,150 council decided she had to pay back for the limousine trips.) Fennell stated that the arbitrator’s decision meant that instead of 266 spending violations there were only two.

The poll also found that 66 per cent of respondents believe some senior city staff need to be let go in order to clean up the spending problems at city hall, while 16 per cent disagree and 17 per cent don’t know.

Only 47 per cent of those who participated in the poll agreed when asked if new Mayor Linda Jeffrey “will clean up the mess left by the spending scandal at Brampton City Hall”, while 28 per cent think she will not clean things up and 25 per cent didn't know. The poll puts Jeffrey’s approval rating at 66 per cent.

Forum says its results are accurate plus or minus 3 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.