Ward 5 Councillor Bonnie Crombie says she is relieved that the courts cleared her of all election charges, but says new oversight is needed to prevent similar charges in the future.
Crombie was cleared yesterday of all 10 counts of election finance violations against her by the Ontario Provincial Offences Court.
“I’m delighted by the outcome today,” Crombie told YourMississaugaBiz.com. “I think it always confirms what I always knew that the campaign was run professional and abided by the spirit of the law.
On Tuesday, crown prosecutors declined to pursue charges under the Municipal Elections Act.
Crombie said she thinks that the new legislation has to be reviewed because it opens up an opportunity for political agendas and gamesmanship.
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.
She also said she’s been in her job for a year and a half and has already been cleared by the elections finance review committee twice. “As the Crown said today these charges are redundant,” Crombie said.
Crombie said Mississauga City Council’s governance committee has been discussing the need for an oversight body that would review the financial statements of election candidates.
She cited the current process with federal and provincial election candidates reporting to Elections Canada. “They always call with questions,” Crombie said. “So you know that they’re being reviewed. But there’s no one person or body that oversees a municipal candidate’s returns.”
Crombie said as a result of the case she would be incurring legal fees out of pocket, as the charges did not occur while she was campaigning and so she was not able to fundraise to cover this expense.