‘I absolutely deny the allegations made against me’: Ron Starr breaks silence
After months of speculation, Councillor Ron Starr broke his silence following allegations he keyed the vehicle of former councillor Karen Ras.
“I wholeheartedly condemn harassment of any form,” Starr wrote in his statement submitted to the Canadian Press. “However, I absolutely deny the allegations made against me.”
Following Ras’s unexpected departure from municipal politics the former Ward 2 councillor explained in her resignation letter workplace issues were a part of her reasons for leaving.
Days later, on February 2, media reported one of the reasons Ras resigned from elected office was due to harassment by individuals inside City Hall. She said her vehicle had been damaged multiple times in the City Hall parking lot. It was later reported by TorStar that Ras believes Starr was behind the eight acts of vandalism of her Kia Sportage between mid-2019 and April 2021.
“I have kept silent during this time in order to respect the process and the role of the Integrity Commissioner. However, I cannot stay silent any further,” Starr wrote in his statement. “I will reserve my comment only to state that I have grave concerns about the way this Investigation has been handled by both City Council and the Integrity Commissioner as I do not believe that this process has been fair and impartial.”
On February 2 Council ordered the City’s integrity commissioner, Robert Swayze, to investigate the allegations and determine if Starr violated the Mississauga Code of Conduct, which sets out the rules members of council are supposed to follow. Previously, Ras approached Swayze to conduct an investigation. After Peel Regional Police did not lay any charges following their investigation into the matter Swayze incorrectly determined he could not conduct an investigation once police had been involved. The Municipal Act only states an integrity commissioner investigation will be set aside if there is a possibility of criminality, so police can step in, but it does not prevent the commissioner from picking up the investigation once police have finished their work. Ras stated the situation was not handled properly and after Swayze admitted his error, council directed him to conduct an investigation. A code of conduct violation can occur even if no criminal act was committed.
Mississauga integrity commissioner Robert Swayze has been investigating the allegations levelled by former councillor Karen Ras.
(City of Mississauga)
Swayze has been working on a report since February and explained in late April further evidence and allegations prolonged its release.
On May 31 Starr filed an injunction with the Divisional Court in Brampton against the City of Mississauga and Swayze. If successful, it would prohibit the integrity commissioner from making public the version of the report Starr received. Council would not be allowed to receive it or make any possible decisions about punishment. Starr is also seeking an order from the court to revoke Council’s February 2 decision when it ordered Swayze to investigate the allegations. The injunction request asks that Council be prevented from receiving, debating and voting on the current report’s findings.
On June 8, an in-camera item discussing the action is scheduled on the City Council meeting agenda.
Starr has retained Emilio Bisceglia, Adriana Di Biase and Battista Frino of Bisceglia & Associates to represent him in the matter.
“As I am having the actions of City Council and the Integrity Commissioner reviewed before a Court of law, I do not intend to comment any further with respect to this matter at this time,” he wrote in the statement.
Starr has been in and out of public office since 1978 when he was first elected as Ward 7 Councillor, before becoming Ward 6 councillor in 2010.
His statement addressed the need to take legal action to protect himself.
“Since 1978, I have proudly dedicated my life to public service and specifically, serving the people of Mississauga. The false allegations against me are not only profoundly shocking, but they threaten to dismantle a reputation that I’ve been building for decades.”
“I am very grateful for the outpouring of support that I've received from my constituents, family and friends throughout this very difficult ordeal.”
Email: [email protected]
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