February 4, 2022 (2 Minute Read)
Photo: Mayor Bonnie Crombie, Former Councillor Karen Ras, Councillor Ron Starr
It has been alleged that Mississauga Councillor Ron Starr engaged in workplace harassment towards another Mississauga Councillor Karen Ras. According to Ras, Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie was aware of the matter.
There have been several media reports indicating that Councillor Ras notified the City’s Integrity Commissioner, Robert Swayze of multiple harassment events. The incidents involved her parked at City Hall being vandalized.
When initially approached, Integrity Commissioner Swayze refused to investigate. When a complaint is filed on the conduct of a Councillor, it is the role of the Integrity Commissioner to investigate and report back to Council.
With no resolve, Councillor Ras resigned her seat on Mississauga City Council. She told CBC news, “Once I knew I couldn’t get any resolution from the Integrity Commission, I knew my heart wasn’t going to be in this role anymore, because there were no more avenues to seek out.”
“I know not what you’re referring to”– Mayor Bonnie Crombie
At the time of Ras’ resignation, Insauga publisher Khaled Iwamura asked Crombie if the resignation was a result of friction on Council or if there were issues between Ras and others. Crombie responded by saying “I know not what you’re referring to” and when pressed on the matter, said that “the one thing about Mississauga is we work so well together; we’re a highly functioning Council.”
Yesterday, Ras directly called out Mayor Crombie stating she was aware of issues but took no action.
“Yes, she was aware of what was going on,” Ras told the CBC. “I think there are opportunities for our leaders to try to build a more conciliatory environment.”
A spokesperson for Crombie is now saying that the Mayor became aware of an “alleged incident of vandalism” in the spring of 2021 and cooperated fully with the investigation. The spokesperson declined to speak to the CBC further.
“Politics is not for the faint of heart”– Mississauga Councillor Carolyn Parrish
In new developments on the city hall scandal, Mississauga City Council has now formally asked Integrity Commissioner Swayze to investigate.
However, because Council conducted their discussion behind closed doors, it is not known if there was any discussion on how unbiased the Integrity Commissioner will be. Given that Swayze initially declined to investigate the matter, it is unclear if Swayze will recuse himself and refer the matter to another independent Integrity Commissioner.
It is also not known, if the formal investigation will look into the actions of Mississauga’s Mayor Crombie and her role in the matter.
Further, given the closed door discussion, there was no explanation related to the Mississauga’s Councillor Carolyn Parrish comments when she told The Star, “Politics is not for the faint of heart”.
On the matter of women in politics, it is well documented that sexism and violence towards women who hold elected office is real. To dismiss acts of violence towards women in politics is akin to condoning the behaviour. Research demonstrates that sexism and violence continues to be a barrier for women politicians.