For Immediate Release
PRESS RELEASE: Horizon Ottawa Calls on Harder to Resign, City to Ban Developer Donations After Damning Report from Integrity Commissioner
OTTAWA - Horizon Ottawa is calling on Barrhaven Councilor Jan Harder to resign amid new revelations from the City’s Integrity Commissioner in a 100-page report released Friday night finding that she violated the City’s Code of Conduct for employing the daughter of a well-known developer in her office.
The report, released at 5:30 PM on a Friday evening, details the “triangular” relationship between Councilor Harder, developer and member of the City’s Planning Advisory Committee, Jack Stirling of the Stirling Group and his daughter Alison Stirling. Harder first hired Stirling in 2017 (and again in 2019) despite knowing full-well that she was the daughter of Jack Stirling. In fact, as the report details, Harder and Stirling have been good friends since at least the 1990s.
The Stirling Group also provided services to Harder over several months while between contracts. As the report notes, they were not remunerated for those services which are classified as a benefit under Section 13 of the Code of Conduct. These benefits were not disclosed to the public. Based on the findings of the report, the Integrity Commissioner is calling for Harder to be stripped of her role as Planning Chair.
“This is an egregious abuse of our local democracy and a confirmation of what most of us already knew,” said Sam Hersh, a board member of Horizon Ottawa, “Developer influence is running rampant at Ottawa City Hall and this once again confirms it.”
In May 2020, Horizon Ottawa released a report and a database that found that most councilors who sit on the City’s Planning Committee accepted the majority of their donations from those connected to the development industry during the 2018 election. Councilor Harder was among one of the highest, accepting 95% of her total donations from those connected to the development industry. This included a $1200 donation from Deirdre Stirling, the wife of Jack Stirling and mother of Alison Stirling.
“Unfortunately, as our data has shown, Harder is not an isolated incident.” Said Hersh. “Councilors need to do the right thing and not only call for Harder’s resignation but also a ban on accepting developer donations in the next municipal election.”
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