Mississauga Judicial Inquiry: Memo to Council from Councillor Nando Iannicca – November 2nd re: Judicial Inquiry Next Steps
November 2nd, 2011
What follows is a “Memo to Council from Councillor Nando Iannicca – November 2nd re: Judicial Inquiry Next Steps” that Councillor Iannicca shared with Mississauga Council at today’s General Committee meeting. I reproduce it here in its entirety as written, with the good Councillor’s kind permission.
|Memorandum||[Corporate logo for City of Mississauga]|
|To:||Members of Council City Manager|
|From:||Nando Iannicca, Councillor Ward 7|
|Date:||November 2, 2011|
|Re:||Judicial Inquiry Next Steps|
With this item now on our General Committee Agenda of November 2, 2011 I provide a list of questions and concerns expressed to me by residents during the course of the Judicial Inquiry, its subsequent findings and report, and the media reporting of same.
Like most other Councillors, many direct and forceful questions were asked of me by Ward 7 Constituents and others throughout this process and I advised all of them that I could not speak to the matter while Justice Cunningham and the Inquiry was seized of this issue. I fulfilled this obligation to his Honour and the process but I also promised all those who raised an inquiry that I would formally express their concerns and questions at the appropriate time so as not to appear to have avoided the issue, and to also give them the satisfaction of knowing that I formally addressed their concerns as their elected official.
In formally referring the matter to the City Manager and the appropriate municipal staff, I am well aware that some of the items that have been asked of me are answered in the “Report of the Mississauga Judicial Inquiry” or in today’s General Committee Agenda. Where this is the case I would ask staff to simply refer to the appropriate reference in these documents and proceed to then answer the balance of the queries. At the conclusion, what I hope to have achieved on behalf of my constituents is a written response to their direct inquiry either provided by the Inquiry Report, the Report prepared by City staff, and amendments to this Report before the final document goes to Council.
- Mayor’s Gala Fund
Justice Cunningham dealt with this matter in his Report as have municipal staff. I am satisfied that all of the concerns that have been asked of me regarding the amount of money raised relative to the actual disbursements, the fact that we broke Revenue Canada’s laws, and particularly the fact that the municipality no longer plays a principal, official or any other direct role in this entity means that the City and I have addressed this concern.
Need for a Judicial Inquiry
Many residents asked why we even needed a Judicial Inquiry when some argued that the original legal opinion presented to Council said it was not required. I am glad to finally speak to this matter and to state in absolutely unequivocal terms that this most assuredly was not what was conveyed to Council in Camera on the matter. While it is absolutely true that the written Report presented to Council said that the Mayor may not have breached the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act, in the extensive conversation that ensued prompted by questions from Councillors, the responses from the legal professionals in the room made it clear that a great many other concerns existed in the Mayor’s conduct. These were all borne out in evidence before the Inquiry and the ultimate findings. In fact, Justice Cunningham himself stated of the call for an Inquiry that, “there was no other practical way to explore what transpired.”
This matter was also dealt with where it was confirmed the provision was “slipped in” after the fact and Council had no knowledge and gave no approval to the clause.
The City must have a Hotel Convention Centre
This part of the Inquiry prompted by far the greatest number of questions and concerns particularly from members of the business community, development community, and realtors. The list of questions they put to me are as follows:
- when did the Council of The City of Mississauga determine that a Hotel/Convention Centre was vital and would be pursued?
- when was the decision actually made?
- can someone provide an Agenda of such meetings, the information presented, the Planning Report related to the subject, and the public process and public consultation that took place?
- who determined that Mr. Peter McCallion would be chosen to lead the project?
- what credentials and experience does he have in putting together a billion dollar Hotel and Convention deal in light of the fact that Justice Cunningham found, “Mr. McCallion’s experience was strictly as a real estate agent, and he has never put a development project together.” Many of those who put the question to me on this front were very upset that it appears no Requests for Proposal, Call for Submissions, or any other public process or competition was used to determine who could compete for this very lucrative business opportunity.
- when the decision was made to go ahead with the project with Peter McCallion as the sole Principal and/or Agent, why does it appear as though those pre-eminent in the Hotel Convention business with names such as Wynn, Hilton, Hyatt, Trump and the like were never brought into the fold but that the biggest development proposal in the history of the City was instead entrusted to Peter McCallion and individuals he approached with names such as Cook, Couprie, DeCiccio, and the like, who Justice Cunningham referred to as friends of the McCallion family.
- In the one instance where someone with standing in the Hotel business was approached, his candid comments are particularly disturbing. As Justice Cunningham wrote in his Report, “Steve Gupta, the CEO of Easton’s Group of Hotels…testified that a four star hotel…could not be achieved, given the less expensive hotels in the vicinity and the proximity of other four star hotels both near the airport and in downtown Toronto.” So when the only expert consulted said the proposal was dead on arrival who chose to keep the scheme alive?
Sheridan College Flip
A couple of individuals have made a very astute observation regarding the final outcome which has led them to question whether there was ever any intention on the part of the City to actually build a Hotel Convention Centre. They specifically point to the fact that when the Council of The City of Mississauga became aware that Sheridan College was looking to build a campus in our city the Council with great haste and $15 M of Taxpayers money immediately purchased the site in question that Peter McCallion referred to “as the best, last piece of land for a Hotel Convention Centre” and immediately conveyed it to Sheridan College at the nominal sum of $1 per year. As it was put to me, this fact clearly demonstrates that the City Council of The City of Mississauga had absolutely no intention whatsoever of pursuing a Hotel Convention Centre. They need an explanation as to why so many of the actions of the Mayor, Peter McCallion, and his various associates would demonstrate otherwise.
Role of the Office of the Mayor
When the deal ultimately fell through what role was the Mayor and her Office pursuing on behalf of Mississauga City Taxpayers when she continued to be involved in trying to obtain the highest possible settlement for the firm in which her son was a Principal. Many have followed up this question by noting the peculiar outcome, as they put it, in which Mr. McCallion was involved in a project in which he seemingly never bought or sold or listed a piece of land, and ultimately never built a Hotel Convention Centre and yet he and his associates received $4M of compensation. They also note that this $4M comes directly from the $15M which all Taxpayers paid for the land in question for Sheridan College from which the sellers of the land and then forwarded $4M to Mr. McCallion and his associates.
[Iannicca memo ends]
I have just one question arising from today’s General Committee meeting: Why has no one asked “How can you possibly trust a corrupt municipality like MYTHissauga to hire its own integrity commissioner?”
The Mississauga Muse