Integrity Commissioner Releases Report Re: Vijay Thanigasalam, MPP for Scarborough—Rouge Park

The Honourable J. David Wake, Integrity Commissioner, today released his report into a complaint regarding Vijay Thanigasalam, MPP for Scarborough–Rouge Park. The report is in response to an affidavit submitted by Taras Natyshak, Member of Provincial Parliament for Essex, on May 18, 2021, in which he requested an opinion under section 30 of the Members’ Integrity Act, 1994.

Mr. Natyshak alleged that Mr. Thanigasalam breached Ontario parliamentary convention by using constituency resources for partisan purposes, with respect to a virtual town hall regarding “Scarborough COVID-19 Vaccines” that Mr. Thanigasalam hosted on April 9, 2021. Mr. Natyshak alleged that Alicia Vianga, a candidate for the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario in the Scarborough—Guildwood riding, was introduced and given an opportunity to make remarks at the event, along with other elected members of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario.

Following the inquiry, Commissioner Wake found that Mr. Thanigasalam breached the Ontario parliamentary convention of not using constituency or legislative resources for partisan activities. Mr. Thanigasalam’s constituency staff introduced a partisan aspect to the virtual town hall event and thus were engaged, to some extent, in partisan activities. Additionally, Mr. Thanigasalam failed to supervise and train his staff appropriately to ensure that the partisan aspect to the town hall event was avoided. The Commissioner recommends that no penalty be imposed in this case because Mr. Thanigasalam has since arranged for his staff to have training with respect to parliamentary convention, which should prevent any similar breaches in future.

Commissioner Wake recommends that each political party’s caucus services branch develop a detailed training program for MPP staff so that they understand their roles and the importance of not using legislative and constituency resources for partisan purposes.

The full report can be accessed here.

The Commissioner is not available for interviews.

About the OIC

The Office has seven mandates under five pieces of legislation:

  • Members’ Integrity, providing confidential conflict of interest advice to MPPs;
  • Ministers’ Staff Ethical Conduct, providing conflict of interest advice and direction to public servants in ministers’ offices;
  • Lobbyist Registration, operating Ontario’s lobbyist registry and conducting investigations into matters of potential non-compliance;
  • Disclosure of Wrongdoing, receiving whistleblowing disclosures from current and former members of the Ontario Public Service;
  • Public Sector Ethics, providing conflict of interest advice and direction to a broad range of public servants; and,
  • Expenses Review:
    • Reviewing the travel, meal and hospitality expenses of Cabinet ministers, parliamentary assistants, Opposition leaders, and their staff; and,
    • Reviewing the travel, meal and hospitality expenses of selected agencies.