Ombudsman investigators speak with London city councillors
Published Thursday, August 7, 2014 6:27PM EDT
Investigators with the Ontario ombudsman's office were back in London Thursday conducting interviews with members of city council.
Their probe this time focuses on the events leading up to the appointment of Russ Monteith as the new Ward 5 councillor, and it seems investigators heard at least two different accounts of what took place in the cafeteria at the top of city hall.
Ward 8 Councillor Paul Hubert says "I'm happy to answer their questions because I have absolutely nothing to hide.
Ward 4 Councillor Stephen Orser adds "Just go in and tell the truth, I think the law is ridiculous and that night I was part of the Baechler bunch."
Last month the ombudsman launched an investigation into the actions of 11 councillors and the mayor.
At issue is a June 24th meal in the cafeteria at city hall during a break between meetings.
If councillors discussed and advanced a decision to appoint Russ Monteith to the vacant Ward 5 seat, then they would have violated closed meeting rules in the Municipal Act.
Monteith himself, along with Councillors Nancy Branscombe and Matt Brown were not in attendance.
While most under investigation claim nothing inappropriate was discussed, Orser is blunt about what he told investigators.
"I have no problem with saying yes we were all talking about what we were going to do the next day."
He denies that his admission has anything to do with impacting the political aspirations of others on council.
The Municipal Act doesn't have teeth to punish councillors who break the rules, but three months away from an election, Londoners say they are paying attention to issues of integrity.
Still, Hubert says "I don't think this is the biggest thing in people's minds frankly, I think they need to be making judgements based on people's past behaviour."
It unclear how long the investigation will take, but past investigations in London have taken anywhere from a few weeks, to a few months.