The Halting Investigation: Unraveling the Pause in the Orlikow Ethics Probe

Winnipeg – In a surprising turn of events, the outside Alberta Council tapped to investigate Winnipeg City Councillor John Orlikow for ethics violations has announced the suspension of the inquiry. Jamie Pytel, the appointed investigator notified Mr. Don Woodstock in response to his inquiry into the status of the ongoing investigation. One that stems from Councillor Orlikow been found to playing a significant role in delaying the Parker Lands Housing project by the Court of Kings Bench. The announcement has left Winnipeggers questioning the reasons for the halt of the proceedings.

“With respect to your Council Code of Conduct complaint against Councillor Orlikow which relates to the subject matter found in Justice McCarthy’s Court of King’s Bench of Manitoba’s decision in 6165347 Manitoba Inc. and 7138793 Manitoba Ltd. v. The City of Winnipeg (the “legal action”). I am suspending this matter until all proceedings regarding the legal action are exhausted to ensure that all parties may participate fully in a Code of Conduct investigation.” Emailed by Ms. Jamie Pytel on January 11, 2024

To help shed light on the matter, TDS reached out to Ms. Pytel with a series of questions aimed at understanding the rationale behind the suspension:

Why the Suspension?
Since Councillor Orlikow was neither a defendant nor a witness in the legal action, and the court appeal is with the City of Winnipeg, why is Ms. Pytel suspending the investigation? Citizens are eager to understand the connection between legal action and the ethics probe.

Awareness and Timing
Were you aware of the City of Winnipeg’s appeal in this case before accepting the investigation? If so, what has changed, and why was the investigation not suspended earlier, considering the ongoing legal proceedings?

Decision-Making Authority
Was the decision to suspend the investigation made solely by you, or was it a directive from the City of Winnipeg, its legal counsel, or the current Winnipeg ethics commissioner? Citizens are keen to know the chain of decision-making leading to the suspension.

City Cooperation
In your capacity to investigate this matter and the accounts for Orlikow, have you faced any reluctance or impedance from the City of Winnipeg in providing information that would help aid or expedite this matter? Transparency is crucial, and citizens want to know if any hurdles exist in obtaining information.

Unfortunately, Miss Pytel did not respond to our inquiries for clarification. This lack of response disappoints the citizens of Winnipeg, who want and deserve answers, primarily because their taxpayer money funds the investigation. The absence of communication leaves the public in the dark, fostering frustration and a growing need for a resolution.

“Could this have been a pivotal opportunity for Council to say, they have an Ethics Commissioner, but truthfully it is just a position with no teeth – ‘all bark, no bite.” Said Mr. Woodstock

He added, “Unless we get a robust investigation with full cooperation from all sides, without delay, we should abandon the Ethics Commissioner and have a statute that refers matters to the Provincial Government and Ombudsman. If that is the case, taxpayers can save hundreds of thousands of dollars in uncessaty fees and and not get roped into City Council and its bureaucracy.

More indepth coverage on this issue can be found at Action Line, with Winnipeg’s Marty Gold