Investigation of Mississauga councillor extended amid ‘new allegations’


Published April 20, 2022 at 11:03 am

Investigation of Mississauga councillor extended amid 'new allegations'

An investigation into allegations that City councillor Ron Starr repeatedly vandalized a colleague’s SUV will take longer than expected after new information was received, the Mississauga official conducting the probe said today (April 20).

City of Mississauga Integrity Commissioner Robert Swayze told City council that the findings of his lengthy investigation, which were expected to be revealed in public this morning, will now be delayed indefinitely.

Swayze said the investigation is still ongoing and that he couldn’t tell councillors much beyond that.

“(Councillor) Starr has retained legal counsel and recently I received new allegations (in a 25-page letter, including witness statements)…and I must deal with that and investigate those issues,” he added. “His lawyer (also) raised procedural issues and I’m required to deal with those issues.”

City of Mississauga Integrity Commissioner Robert Swayze addresses council this morning.

Swayze didn’t elaborate on the nature of the “new allegations” and concluded his brief remarks by telling the councillors in attendance, including Starr remotely, that his report, when completed, will be “detailed” and that he’ll “undertake to get that report to you as soon as possible.”

Swayze was directed by council in February to look into allegations that Starr, who represents Ward 6, repeatedly harassed and bullied former Mississauga Ward 2 councillor Karen Ras over a two-year period ending in early 2021.

Ras’ car was keyed/vandalized eight times while in the City’s underground parking garage.

Ras, who had served on council since 2014, resigned at the end of January. She said initially it was a move based on a better job opportunity and family concerns, but later acknowledged the prime reason for leaving was her experience with her former colleague.

Ward 11 Councillor George Carlson says, regarding the investigation, that a “good final resolution is more important than the speediness of it.”

While anxious to have the probe completed, and its findings revealed, Mississauga councillors noted in the wake of Swayze’s remarks today that it’s more important to be thorough and to get it right.

Still, Ward 1 Councillor Stephen Dasko noted the importance of getting to the bottom of the matter as quickly as possible.

“We’re all getting questions from the public,” Dasko told Swayze. “This is a significant issue for the residents of Mississauga…not to speed you up, but to let you know that people are expecting some answers.”

Mayor Bonnie Crombie agreed, adding, “I’m questioned about these allegations all the time…(for the sake of) all parties, we want a speedy resolution to this.”

Ward 11 Councillor George Carlson, adopting a more patient tone, said “a good final resolution is more important than the speediness of it” and that the new information must be properly dealt with.

Starr, who in February agreed to take a leave of absence while the investigation was conducted, was present virtually for Swayze’s remarks to council today.

Despite the leave of absence, Starr has participated in other recent Council and general committee meetings as well, which is his right as an elected official.

At a special meeting of City council on Feb. 9, Swayze told councillors that he initially decided against investigating the matter last year because it had been already probed by Peel Regional Police, who laid no charges.

Council also passed a resolution at that meeting that “clarifies and strengthens” the municipality’s Council Code of Conduct regarding investigative powers of the integrity commissioner.

Essentially, the resolution states that matters related to the Code can and will be investigated by the integrity commissioner even if police are also probing the matter.

Furthermore, the resolution now requires the integrity commissioner to make quarterly reports to council on any complaints received. Previously, such reports were presented once a year.

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