For Immediate Release
OTTAWA - Horizon Ottawa welcomes the resignation of Councilor Harder from her respective committees but is condemning the shameful decision today by the majority of Ottawa City Council to reject the recommendations in the report of the Integrity Commissioner. The report called on Councillor Jan Harder to be stripped of her roles, it also called on Harder to be docked 15 days of pay, reimburse legal fees she charged to the City and to amend the gift registry after it was revealed that she violated the Code of Conduct after having employed the daughter of a well-known developer and friend, Jack Stirling, while simultaneously using his unpaid services. The latter recommendations around pay were rejected by council.
Horizon Ottawa demanded that the City enact stricter consequences and that council call on Harder to resign entirely from her council seat. A petition launched by Horizon Ottawa earlier this week calling on Councillor Harder to resign amassed over 500 signatures in less than 48 hours.
"Though we welcome Harder's resignation, today's decision is a shameful rejection of public trust and confidence." said Sam Hersh, a Board Member of Horizon Ottawa. "Councillors have once again proven whose side they're on - the wealthy and corporate developer class such as the Stirling Group."
From fundraisers to golf tournaments, Councillor Harder's "coziness" to those in the development industry had been well-known. Further, in a report launched in May 2020, it was found that Councilor Harder had accepted 95% of her donations from those connected to the development industry.
According to Horizon Ottawa though, the focus should not simply be on reprimanding Harder but reforming the planning process and the municipal campaign finance system.
"Jan Harder is not the cause but simply the symptom of a much greater problem; we need to completely overhaul our campaign finance system and planning process." Said Hersh. "But we also need to organize and make sure that many of the councilors who voted against these recommendations today do not get to keep their jobs in 2022."
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