Canada’s 1st lobbying czar to become City of Ottawa’s new integrity commissioner

The City of Ottawa has hired Karen Shepherd to replace outgoing integrity commissioner Robert Marleau, according to a memo sent Friday afternoon.

City clerk Rick O’Connor said Shepherd will start the role on Sept. 1 for a one-year appointment with the possibility of renewal for a five-year term.

Shepherd has worked for more than 30 years in the federal public service, “more than half of which was in the ethics field,” O’Connor wrote.

Karen Shepherd will become Ottawa's second-ever integrity commissioner.

Karen Shepherd will become Ottawa's second-ever integrity commissioner.

Photo via City of Ottawa

That includes serving as Canada’s first lobbying commissioner in 2009, where she built out a forum for cross-country discussions on lobbying practices among provincial and municipal regulators.

She later joined Health Canada as a senior adviser and later ombudsperson for the department and the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Shepherd holds a baccalaureate of arts from Concordia University and a master’s degree in public affairs from Carleton University, where she received the Bissett Alumni Award in 2010 for distinctive contributions to the public sector.

Shepherd will become Ottawa’s second-ever integrity commissioner, stepping into the shoes Marleau has filled since the position’s inception in 2012.

The past year of Marleau’s tenure alone has seen him file a series of high-profile reports on councillors’ conduct, including two damning reviews of College Coun. Rick Chiarelli’s conduct towards female staffers and job applicants to his office.

Read more:
Woman who accuses Rick Chiarelli of sexual harassment sues City of Ottawa for $325K

More recently, his probe into Barrhaven Coun. Jan Harder’s handling of her relationship with a development executive saw the veteran councillor resign her role as chair of the city’s planning committee in June.

Shepherd will begin working with Marleau for the next six weeks as a transition period, O’Connor wrote in the memo.

He said 14 people applied for the open integrity commissioner role over the course of May, with Shepherd chosen as the preferred candidate in late June.

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