Mississauga investigates ‘flagrant bullying’ of former councillor; report to come in March


Published February 11, 2022 at 1:05 pm


An investigation into the “flagrant bullying and harassment” of former Mississauga councillor Karen Ras is underway and expected to be completed in a matter of weeks.

City of Mississauga integrity commissioner Robert Swayze told a special meeting of City council on Wednesday (Feb. 9) that he initially decided against investigating the matter last year because it had been already probed by Peel Regional Police.

However, at the direction of council, Swayze said he is now well into an investigation into allegations that Ward 6 Councillor Ron Starr repeatedly harassed and bullied Ras over a two-year period.

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

Starr, who has denied the allegations, has agreed to take a leave of absence while the matter is investigated.

After his investigation is completed, Swayze will bring a report to council sometime in March. The report will be made public at that time.

Council also passed a resolution at the special 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.

“We’re all very concerned about these issues…here and in any workplace,” Mayor Bonnie Crombie said Wednesday. “We want to ensure we’re doing everything we can to support each other…” going forward.

“This is a challenge in every workplace, and it is in ours, (too).”

In a statement released later Wednesday, Crombie added:

“The Code is a living document and is amended regularly. Today’s resolution will strengthen the Code of Conduct to provide for greater clarity, accountability and transparency, and ensure a situation like this does not occur again. Council looks forward to the outcome of the investigation of the integrity commissioner so that we can get answers and take action where necessary.”

On Feb. 2, after a lengthy behind-closed-doors session, City council unanimously adopted a resolution directing the City’s integrity commissioner to investigate allegations that Starr repeatedly vandalized Ras’ vehicle while it was parked on city hall property.

The move by council came after reports surfaced in the media a day or so earlier that Ras resigned her Ward 2 council position in January not because she had another career opportunity, but because she was concerned for her safety after Swayze declined to investigate the incidents.

A police investigation earlier last year resulted in no charges being laid.

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