Mississauga: The local community activist, Masood Khan, is up in arms about Councillor Bonnie Crombie’s campaign to become Mayor. In a letter to Mayor Hazel McCallion, he has alleged that Crombie has broken rules as a sitting Councillor and demanded that Coucillor must step down before running for Mayor’s position. McCallion, not one to shy away from a controversy, promptly wrote back the following:
“Dear Mr. Khan:
This will acknowledge receipt of your letter dated July 7, 2014 regarding Councillor Bonnie Crombie and her decision to seek candidacy for Mayor of the City of Mississauga in this year’s municipal election, while continuing to serve as Councillor for Ward 5.
You suggest in your letter that “any member of Council wishing to run for the Mayor’s position must first resign from their present position”. This assertion is not supported by law. For your information, Councillors are under no obligation to vacate their seat under the Municipal Elections Act and as such, Councillor Crombie has every right to seek candidacy for Mayor while continuing to fulfill her duty as the Council representative for Ward 5, as she was elected to do by her constituents. You may also be interested to know that under the Municipal Act, 2001 members of Council who are a registered candidate in a provincial or federal election also do not have to vacate their Council seat. I have attempted to change the legislation in this regard to prevent costly by-elections but have been unsuccessful to date.
In regard to recent findings of the Integrity Commissioner relating to Councillor Crombie, while he found there was a violation, it was deemed to be an inadvertent one and as she was quick to rectify the situation, he recommended no further action be taken. He also added that with the increase of social media and its role in municipal elections, which are still being understood, that he was willing to give the Councillor and her staff the benefit of the doubt, which is fair in my opinion.
Your assertion that Councillor Crombie, continuing to act as Ward Councillor while running for Mayor, is somehow unethical is unfounded in my view. By that argument, every single member of City Council who is seeking re-election should then also resign. If that were the case, the residents of Mississauga would have no representation on Council in an election year and the official business of the City would be seriously hampered.
While you are entitled to your personal opinion, I do not support your request to demand Councillor Crombie’s resignation nor do I feel that her continued role as Ward Councillor will in any way compromise the electoral process.
It will be up to the voters on Election Day to cast their ballot for the mayoral candidate who they feel best serves their interests and the interests of the City, which is the democratic process. The democratic process, by which municipal officials are elected, is open, transparent and responsible, and fair to all who wish to put their name forward as a candidate.”
The Mayor’s letter defines, according to many, is a strong endorsement of Crombie’s candidacy by the grand old lady of Mississauga, and is likely to have a beneficial impact on Crombie’s campaign. But not wanting to be upstaged completely, Khan added the following rejoinder:
“Good morning Madam Mayor and thank you so much for writing back to me. I read the decision of the integrity Commissioner Mr. Robert Swayze who found Bonnie Crombie has violated Rule 6 of the code that relates to elections but recommended no punishment for her. It is hard to say whether her action was deliberate or inadvertent as Mr. Swayze noted.
I am also aware of the law that politicians do not need to resign from their position held to run for another political office but who are the law makers? Same politicians and they will put their interest on top of the voters’ interest who would like a fair and square system and not a tainted campaign.
I do not deny the fact that Ms. Crombie has all the right to run for any political office but as a voter who has been religiously voting in Mississauga since 1976, I’d like to see one day that all politicians first resign from their position to run for another political office so that we, the voters feel that they have no advantage over the other candidates.
I don’t agree with you that seeking re-election for the same political office is similar to this scenario and I also do not agree with you that appointing a citizen Councillor for 3 months is costly. In fact, Mississauga has done it in the past and Toronto has recently appointed two citizen Councillors on vacant seats in the Council.
In my opinion, it would have been credible thing for Ms. Crombie to resign because of this violation and am sure, like me, more voters will raise transparency of her campaign once the citizens of Mississauga start feeling the heat of this election.”