More powers to come for Toronto and Ottawa mayors, says Doug Ford

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More powers to come for mayors of Toronto and Ottawa, says Doug Ford

Premier Doug Ford points out that mayors only have one vote on city council, not more than councillors.< /p>

Premier Doug Ford confirms that he plans to grant veto and other powers to the mayors of Ontario’s two largest cities, Toronto and Ottawa, to make their job easier.

Mr. Ford isn't targeting a particular file, but it promised during the election campaign in May to speed up the housing construction process. His goal: to build 1.5 million homes in 10 years.

However, he never mentioned during the campaign the possibility of granting more powers to do so. to the mayors of Ottawa and Toronto.

In a press scrum on Wednesday, Ford said details were yet to be ironed out, but he favored a model called the “strong mayor”.

There are no parties in municipal politics in Ontario. Currently, the mayor has only one vote on the city council, the prime minister points out.

“The mayors of Toronto, Ottawa or elsewhere are accountable for everything, but their vote counts as one vote on council as for each of the city councillors.

— Doug Ford, Premier of Ontario

As all responsibilities fall on the mayor, he needs the skill and accountability to take decisions, adds Mr. Ford.

He indicates that the government would grant a veto to the mayors of Toronto and Ottawa on certain issues, without giving details. However, city councilors could overrule a mayor's decision if they have two-thirds of the vote, he said.

Without giving a specific date, the Premier indicated that the changes under consideration would come into force in time for the next council, even if municipal campaigns are already underway in Ontario in anticipation of the October election and that residents of Ottawa and Toronto were not consulted on the issue.

In the United States, the mayors of several large cities have powers similar to those of a corporate CEO. Under this “strong mayor” model, the head of the city can, for example, choose the leaders of the various departments and manage the budgets. He can even have a right of veto on certain decisions.

The mayor of Toronto, John Tory, says he is in favor of increased powers for the town hall.

I've said in the past that I'm fine with having “strong mayor” powers. – I spoke about it before the last election, he notes in a press release.

I am determined to see more housing built, regardless of my powers as mayor, adds he. Mr Tory is seeking re-election in October.

In a scrum on Wednesday, he claimed he had not had a formal discussion with Mr Ford on the issue of the mayor's powers, but added that he had raised the housing issue when they met in June.

Anything that can speed up housing construction — build more homes faster — I'm interested in, because it's a big deal, says -il.

“We need to pick up the pace [on housing].

— John Tory, Mayor of Toronto

Mr. Tory would not explain how having more powers as mayor would speed up housing construction, saying he wanted to get more details from the province first.

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A spokesman for Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said he was on vacation and could not comment on the announcement on Wednesday. Mr. Watson is not representing himself.

Councilwoman Catherine McKenney, who hopes to replace him, said in a Twitter post that the proposal was undemocratic and would reduce the power of council and residents.

Patrick Brown , who is seeking another term as mayor of Brampton, says it would be a good idea to give more powers to the mayors of Toronto and Ottawa, and possibly those of smaller towns like his.

In Toronto, City Councilor Gord Perks is calling for more information on the changes the province is considering. I think it would be inappropriate for us to complete our term without having had a chance to discuss potentially very, very significant changes to the governance of Toronto, he said Tuesday.

Toronto City Council holds its last meeting before the election on Wednesday.

Councillors Gord Perks and Josh Matlow moved a motion calling on the province not to pass of legislation to increase the powers of the mayor, claiming that such a measure would undermine democracy.

“In Toronto, you don't have to go far to understand the importance of ensuring the accountability of the mayor and his powers.

—Motion by Councilmen Gord Perks and Josh Matlow

This is a reference to the fact that the City Council had removed the x27;former drug addict mayor Rob Ford, the brother of Prime Minister Doug Ford, much of his powers.

The NDP says the “strong mayor” model is a bad priority. For the official opposition, municipalities instead need more money for housing, public health, long-term care and public transit.

“Why did Premier Doug Ford keep his mayoral plan a secret throughout the campaign?

— Jeff Burch, MP and NDP Critic for Municipal Affairs

The NDP emphasizes that municipalities and their residents have no not consulted.

This is not the first time that Doug Ford has considered imposing changes to municipal governance. Before the last municipal election, he unilaterally halved the size of Toronto City Council, saying it was dysfunctional because of too many elected officials.

With information from CBC

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