Stronger powers to the Mayors, all against Doug Ford
TORONTO – More than half of Toronto’s City Council has signed a letter urging Premier Doug Ford and Ontario Minister of Municipal Affairs Steve Clark to reconsider the “infamous” Bill 39 which gives John Tory “powers special” to speed up the construction of new housing: in particular, the “super-mayor” can govern with a third of the votes instead of a majority. A slap to democracy, according to the 15 councilors who signed the document.
In a nutshell, the councilors express great concern over the fact that every decision in the City of Toronto can be taken without them and without the possibility of democratically discussing the measures (here below, the letter: click on it to enlarge).
Mayor John Tory, once he read the letter, reiterated what he had already said: “My leadership style and my general approach, consistently demonstrated over eight years, will not change. I will continue to work collaboratively with the city council to get things done, as we have done together for two terms” said the Mayor. On his side is Deputy Mayor Jennifer McKelvie, who did not sign the letter. “The Mayor is already been clear that he would only use those powers on housing issues” she said.
The “stronger mayor” ‘s powers would also extend to Ottawa, but the local city council, including Mayor Mark Sutcliffe, last week unanimously passed a motion against Bill 39 and asked the Province to keep the existing majority rules.
But it’s not just the politicians who contest the “stronger powers” to the mayors. “The growing belief that this is undemocratic is very valid, in my opinion, because it disempowers voters who would no longer see themselves represented by elected councilors in their area” Conrad Winn, political science professor at Carleton University, told CityNews. “I think it is a disaster and I think it is in line with a gradual decline in democratic principles. The short-term effect would be to make Mayors and, in some cases, other officials who control the functioning of councils, dictators”.
Today, however, Prime Minister Doug Ford himself intervened to defend “his” law, taking as a pretext the recent statements by the Mayor of Mississauga, Bonnie Crombie, who in recent days had harshly criticized Bill 39 which, in order to favor new housing, in fact eliminates the taxes (the urbanization charges) that the builders have to pay to the Municipalities. “That bill will cost the City of Mississauga $ 885 million over ten years – that’s equivalent to losing 20 percent of our budget” Crombie said.
“Crombie should stop complaining – Ford said – : I don’t know what her problem is, since we have an ambitious goal. Just in Mississauga, for example, we will build 120,000 houses in the next 10 years. That’s about 12,000 houses every year and a far cry from the city’s current annual average of 2,100. Crombie should stop being fake to the people of Mississauga”.
In short, the clash is getting harder and harder. After all, not only democracy is at stake, but also – and above all – hundreds of millions of dollars.
In the pic above: Doug Ford (photo from Twitter – @fordnation)