Canada’s top-paid mayor broke spending rules on flights, IQ quizzes: audi

The mayor of Brampton, Ont., reportedly Canada’s highest-paid municipal politician, broke expense rules more than 250 times by spending more than $130,000 on items such as business-class flights, premium hotel rooms and cellphone IQ quizzes, an audit has found.

TORONTO — The mayor of Brampton, Ont., reportedly Canada’s highest-paid municipal politician, broke expense rules more than 250 times by spending more than $130,000 on items such as business-class flights, premium hotel rooms and cellphone IQ quizzes, an audit has found.

The audit of several years worth of expenses by Susan Fennell turned up $172,608 in spending that breached city policies, although $41,027 was repaid.

A further $156,000 of expenses may have broken rules but auditors did not have enough information to make a determination.

In a statement, Fennell said she accepts much, but not all, of what the audit found.

“I accept responsibility for all that I do as mayor of Brampton, positive and less positive,” she wrote Tuesday.

“If there are changes that need to be made, I will make them. And I will work with my colleagues on council to ensure that they, too, accept responsibility for their shortcomings.”

Among the Deloitte audit findings, Fennell racked up $220 in cellphone charges for 44 IQ quizzes. The mayor told the auditors the wireless company would credit her account for the quizzes.

Brampton is Canada’s ninth largest city but Fennell, who was paid about $232,000 last year, earned more than any other civic politician in the country, according to documents obtained by the Toronto Star.

Several expenses of concern were related to flight passes the mayor and her staff used for travel to Federation of Canadian Municipalities meetings. The cost exceeded the economy-class fare paid by councillors flying to the same meetings.

The auditors found several instances in which an average trip using a flight pass cost more than $1,000 above the average price of a single ticket. The audit also found $4,685.68 in expired flight-pass credits.

Fennell, who is running for re-election in the Oct. 27 municipal election, said flight passes represented the best available fare for their travel requirements, and provided flexibility with cancellations and schedule changes.

Fennell flew business class to London, where Brampton was a finalist in the World Leadership Awards for Town Planning in 2007, at a cost of $3,950.37. She said the travel was approved but offered no supporting documentation.

During two Federation of Canadian Municipalities meetings in 2009, Fennell stayed in premium hotel rooms that cost more than city-approved rates, the audit found.

At one meeting in Victoria, she stayed in a $369-per-night room, while an employee at the same hotel stayed in a $169-per-night room. Fennell stayed in a $509-per-night room at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler during the federation annual conference. An employee in another room paid $299.

Auditors also noted several large cellphone bills — as high as $1,156 per month — due to international calls, roaming and data charges that might have been avoided by, for example, using international calling packages.

The audit identified a further $155,952 in expenses that may have violated city rules but the auditors did not have enough information.

For example, the mayor’s office pays $45,000 per year for an on-call limousine service but there were no reports on how often the service was used or for what purpose, so the auditors could not say if the use complied with city policy.

The mayor flew to North Bay, Ont., for $866 for the funeral of an employee’s father-in-law, which the auditors deemed “questionable.”

The auditors did clear Fennell in several other instances.

Just Posted

Lacombe’s mayor believes a municipal police force is not more costly than RCMP

Grant Creasy commends Red Deer for studying to find the best policing option

RCMP officer fires gun in violent morning incident west of Red Deer

Blackfalds Mountie stopped to help three suspects whose vehicle was in ditch when it turned violent

Proposed Red Deer 2020 operating budget would require a 2.5 per cent tax increase

A recommended $385.7 million budget will be discussed next month by council

Drug bust: Red Deer RCMP seize drugs, cash, vehicles

Criminals are getting creative. Red Deer RCMP have seized cash and vehicles… Continue reading

Your community calendar

Friday The Annual Old-Fashioned Country Christmas is being held Dec. 13 at… Continue reading

Two adults, two youths from Maskwacis charged in ATV, gun theft

Wetaskiwin RCMP Investigate Break, Enter & Theft and Weapons Offences - Arrests

Boris Johnson claims ‘powerful new mandate’ for Brexit

LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says it looks like his… Continue reading

Fullback Ashley Lawrence named Canadian Player of the Year after busy 2019

TORONTO — Ashley Lawrence, who played in all 15 internationals in 2019… Continue reading

Experienced leaders Agosta, Mikkelson return to Canadian women’s hockey team

Boy or girl, Meghan Agosta was going to name her first child… Continue reading

Taylor Swift calls out Scooter Braun during Billboard speech

LOS ANGELES — Taylor Swift used the Billboard Women in Music stage… Continue reading

Locals face legal costs after losing land dispute to McCain heiress

HALIFAX — A dispute over access to a strip of Nova Scotia… Continue reading

Gaudreau scores twice in Flames’ 4-2 come-from-behind victory over Maple Leafs

Flames 4 Leafs 2 CALGARY — Johnny Gaudreau had his first two-goal… Continue reading

Most Read