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Northern Ont. politician in spat with integrity commissioner over cellphone investigation

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It’s not a crime to be a snowbird, a politician in Greater Sudbury says.

Ward 11 Coun. Bill Leduc wants to fire the city’s integrity commissioner because he conducted a full investigation into a complaint about the politician’s cellphone bill. (File photo/CTV News Northern Ontario)

Ward 11 Coun. Bill Leduc wants to fire the city’s integrity commissioner because he conducted a full investigation into a complaint about the politician’s cellphone bill.

Leduc has high roaming charges because he spends part of the year in the U.S.

Integrity commissioner David G. Boghosian received a complaint about Leduc’s cellphone charges from an anonymous complainer in April of this year.

Boghosian said his investigation revealed Leduc had, by far, the biggest cellphone bill of all councillors.

“The 2022 statement of council expenses indicates the cellular services expenditures incurred by the city for all councillors in 2022 was $9,913.01,1 of which Coun. Leduc’s reimbursed cellphone expenses were $2,188.00, representing 22 per cent of the total for the 12 councillors,” Boghosian wrote in his report.

His cellphone expense was $1,613 in 2023, or 30 per cent of the total cellphone bill for all councillors.

“That means that Coun. Leduc’s cellphone expenses approached five times the average cellphone charges incurred by his fellow councillors,” the report said.

The reason is roaming charges Leduc incurs when he’s doing city business from the U.S. Roaming charges accounted for $1,307 of his total charges in 2022 and $1,195 in 2023.

“(Leduc) also explained that while his principal place of residence was in the city, he did reside in the United States for a period of the year and the roaming expenses were incurred as expenses in fulfilling his responsibilities as councillor while abroad,” Boghosian wrote.

“He correctly pointed out that he has the right to serve his constituents and attend council and committee meetings remotely.”

No cellphone expense limit

Boghosian concluded that Leduc didn’t violate the city’s code of conduct because there is no limit on cellphone expenses, adding that his total expenses were only the fourth-highest on council in 2022.

While clearing him, Leduc is angry about the extent of the investigation. He’s presenting a motion at the May 28 meeting to fire Boghosian.

He argues that Boghosian could have saved taxpayers money by dismissing the complaint earlier in the process.

“The integrity commissioner chose to pursue further questions and to bring forward the report to council which is not required when a complaint is dismissed, incurring additional costs,” Leduc’s motion reads.

It also accuses him of “using his power to harass members of council during his investigations and when presenting his reports.”

If approved, the motion would give Boghosian written notice that his contract is being terminated in 180 days.

Leduc and Boghosian have a history. Leduc was found to have violated the code of conduct in October 2023 in connection with a media interview.

He is also subject to an audit of his campaign expenses related to the October 2022 municipal election.

Read the integrity commissioner’s report here.

Correction

This story has been corrected to reflect Leduc didn't pay back his cellphone roaming charge expenses. 

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