Mississauga Ward 5 Councillor Bonnie Crombie said she expects to be cleared of 10 counts of election finance violations charged against her.
“I have not done anything wrong,” she told YourMississaugaBiz.com “I’ve been cleared of these allegations before and I will be again.”
Crombie, widely thought to be one of the front-runners to replace Mayor Hazel McCallion, said the Elections Act charges brought forth by former rival candidate Cecil Young on Tuesday, stem from the 2011 municipal by-election and had already been dealt with by City Council’s election finance committee.
“I’ve already been exonerated twice,” she emphasized. “Not once, twice.”
However, Justice of the Peace Prior Bonas of the Ontario Court of Justice agreed with Young that the case had enough merit to proceed with charges.
Crombie, a former Liberal federal election candidate, is alleged to have violated several sections of the Municipal Elections Act, including accepting donations from outside the province, incurring expenses prior to registering as a candidate, using signs from her federal campaign, and failing to record expenses.
Crombie could be removed from office if found guilty.
According to University of Toronto Scarborough political science lecturer and Mississauga resident Renan Levine, this is par for the course. “Politics are politics, and that is a political arena,” he said.
The voter behaviour and political strategy specialist said he’s not surprised Crombie was cleared of allegations by the Council review. For Crombie to be removed from office, “It would have to be really big, obvious and egregious.”
Levine doubted whether reusing political signs would be grounds for removal. “Undoing a popular vote in a democracy is a really big deal,” he said. “There’s got to be a major violation tempered and impacted on the election.”
It’s not clear to him that these allegations have that kind of election-undoing merit, he said, citing the recent federal robocall scandal.
He also said that given the content of the allegations, Crombie’s reputation shouldn’t be affected long-term.
For now, Crombie said she just wants to stay focused on serving the community and initiatives like the new Malton BIA and the Malton shinny hockey league.
“I’ve never done anything wrong and I’ve always conducted myself with the utmost integrity,” she said. “I’m taking the high road, I’m above this. I’ve already been cleared of it before and I’m just going to carry on my job to the best of my ability.”
“To me people want to hear me say, ‘I didn’t do anything wrong and I’ve been cleared of this before.’ I’m very confident I will beat it this time as well.”