Mississauga Councillor Karen Ras resigns amid bullying allegations, Ron Starr asked to take leave of absence

A Mississauga councillor has resigned after alleging another councillor keyed her car at City Hall eight times and that city officials including the mayor and integrity commissioner didn’t address her concerns or fully investigate the documented instances. A former councillor will take her place until a new one is elected and the councillor accused of vandalism has been asked to take a leave of absence.

Mississauga City council endorsed a motion yesterday to reappoint Patricia Mullin to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Ward 2 Councillor Karen Ras on January 28.

Council also passed another resolution requesting the Integrity Commissioner conduct an investigation into the allegations that Councillor Ron Starr engaged in harassing behaviour towards former Councillor Karen Ras that violated the Councillor Code of Conduct and/or the City’s Respectful Workplace Policy, officials said in a press release.

Councillor Starr has been asked to take a leave of absence until the Integrity Commissioner’s investigation has concluded and the report is presented to Council.

City Councillors are not employees of the Corporation of the City of Mississauga and are governed by the Councillor Code of Conduct. Complaints about contraventions of the Code are made to the Integrity Commissioner. Matters between Councillors Are dealt with through the Code, and where criminal activities are involved, through Peel Regional Police, the City clarified.

The Integrity Commissioner was asked to attend a Special Council meeting on February 9, or at his earliest convenience, to explain his rationale for not investigating former Councillor Ras’s complaint regarding this matter and to explain how Sections 2(2)(a) and 2(2)(c) of the Council Code of Conduct Complaint Protocol applies to this situation.

In a statement, the City confirmed that staff received a report of vandalism/property damage occurring within the City Hall secure parking garage in April 2021. 

“City of Mississauga security staff followed and continue to follow all procedures and cooperate with Peel Regional Police in their investigations when asked to do so. This includes providing video footage if requested,” the statement said. “The City does not publicly comment on the specifics of security incidents or disclose the content of security tapes as the footage is protected under the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (MFIPPA) and our Video Surveillance Policy (03-10-02).”

“Specifics of this matter are best addressed by Peel Regional Police,” the statement concluded.

The Mississauga Mayor, who also allegedly ignored Ras’ concerns, says the investigation will get answers.  

“Neither Council or the Corporation of the City of Mississauga condone the alleged actions by one of our City Councillors or any harassment or bullying at City facilities,” said Mayor Bonnie Crombie. “We take seriously the safety of all our employees, Members of Council and everyone who visits the City Hall precinct. Through this investigation, we will get the answers Council and the public demand and deserve.”

Meanwhile Mullin has resumed the position she previously held for 29 years and will hold office until November 14.

According to the Municipal Act, if a Councillor resigns prior to the end of their term, Council has the option to hold a by-election or appoint an individual to fill the role.

The next City of Mississauga municipal election is on Monday, October 24, 2022. 

During her time as City and Regional Councillor, Mullin held the position of Chair of the Region of Peel’s Finance and Budget committees, served as Chair of the Peel Police Services Board and as Chair of the Credit Valley Conservation Authority. She was also a member of a number of boards and committees in the City, including the Bradley House Museum, the Mississauga Cycling Advisory Committee and the Benares Museum. She chose not to run again in the 2014 municipal election.

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