Province says it can't intervene in Magliocca expense investigation

Alberta's Ministry of Muncipal Affairs says it can't intervene in the investigation into Coun. Joe Magliocca's expenses after Calgary city council voted to forward its findings to the minister and Calgary police. Adam MacVicar reports.

Alberta’s provincial government said it cannot intervene in the investigation into Ward 2 city councillor Joe Magliocca’s expenses.

The forensic investigation, by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC), into Ward 2 Coun. Joe Magliocca‘s expenses found $5,657 in what have been deemed ineligible expenses for hotel rooms, meals, and other costs over the last two years.

The investigation looked into the $36,687 Magliocca expensed between March 2020 and October 2017, the beginning of his current term.

Councillors discussed the findings of the audit behind closed doors Tuesday and voted to release them to the Calgary Police Service and Alberta’s minister of municipal affairs for further investigation.

Read more:
Probe into Joe Magliocca’s expenses finds over $5,600 in ineligible spending; questions over airfare

However, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs said Friday that it does not have the authority to fire Magliocca in this situation due to rules laid out in the Municipal Government Act.

According to the act, there are a limited set of circumstances that would allow the minister to dismiss members of municipal council.

The rules relate to councillors no longer being eligible to be a candidate, failing to file required campaign disclosure statements, failing to disclose a financial interest, and not refraining from voting on that issue, as well as missing more than eight straight weeks of council meetings.

Councillors can also be removed if the minister launches an inspection or inquiry to determine whether there was “improper, irregular or improvident” management within the municipality.

It is unclear whether municipal affairs minister Kaycee Madu would launch such an inquiry.

“At this stage, the rules of the Municipal Government Act do not permit the province to intervene in cases like these,” ministry spokesperson Timothy Gerwing said in a statement to Global News. “This continues to be an issue for Calgary to manage. We look forward to seeing expenditure rules tightened to ensure taxpayer dollars are always protected.”

The act also states that a councillor can also be removed if they are convicted of an offense punishable by imprisonment for five years of more, or certain offences under the Criminal Code such as corruption, like selling or buying the councillor’s position on an issue.

The Calgary Police Service said on Friday it had not yet received the findings of the investigation, or a formal complaint from the city.

Read more:
Results of Joe Magliocca expense audit to be turned over to Calgary police

According to a spokesperson for Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi, a date for when the city would hand over the investigations findings has not yet been decided.

The expense probe found several irregularities in Magliocca’s expenses, including 16 hosting events totalling $1,478.34 in which Magliocca did not provide the names of those in attendance, which is required under city expense policy. There were another six hosting events at a cost of $770.24 where people listed as attendees confirmed to investigators they weren’t there.

The investigation also found that Magliocca upgraded his seat to business class or premium on seven flights at a cost of $8,866.78; costs the audit recommended the city look into further.

Magliocca has since voluntarily repaid $6,220.66 to the city.

Petition for Magliocca’s resignation

A petition has been launched by Project Calgary, an initiative started to help share ideas for the city, which calls for Magliocca to resign as councillor for Ward 2.

The petition, which was launched following the release of the PwC report into Magliocca’s expenses, has garnered a few hundred signatures.

“This is a councillor who called on city hall to stop treating taxpayers like an ATM, while he was treating taxpayers like an ATM for his own personal benefit.  This is really unprecedented, unethical behaviour for an elected official,” Project Calgary co-founder Peter Oliver said. “We don’t see it as something that’s going to be repaired by an ethics refresher class, and we think the councillor really needs to do the right thing here and step down.”

Council did impose sanctions following its review of the forensic audit, which include a letter of reprimand to Magliocca, who much issue a public apology, and undergo training on council expense policies. The Ward 2 councillor will also face a ban on expensing business travel until late 2021; the end of his term.

Magliocca’s office did not respond to Global News’ request for comment on Friday.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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