Ford pushing for more powers for mayors in Toronto and Ottawa – Oshawa Mayor says system already “works well”

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Published July 20, 2022 at 10:39 am

A plan by Ontario Premier Doug Ford to give sweeping new powers to mayors in Toronto and Ottawa is not something Oshawa Mayor Dan Carter is prepared to support.

Ford’s proposal – which will likely be in place in time for the next term of office this October – would give mayors in the province’s two biggest cities more power in financial matters and in making appointments and would allow the provincial government to deal directly with the mayor in those two cities.

Toronto Mayor John Tory has long advocated for more than “symbolic” powers. Long-time Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson, meanwhile, is not seeking re-election.

Carter, however, is happy with the system in place right now. “I like the current system with its checks and balances,” he said. “It’s a collective effort and I think it’s the best system for our particular city.”

Carter and many other mayors across Ontario enjoyed stronger powers during the first two years of the pandemic to be able to effectively deal with issues such as requiring the use of masks inside in public places, restricting use of parks, closing city-operated recreational facilities etc. But in some cities – Oshawa included – council gave the mayor and the chief administration officer power to make decisions without having to seek council approval.

That ‘state of emergency’ was lifted March 28.

Ford has said he has no plans right now to extend increased authority to mayors in other large Ontario cities such as Mississauga, Brampton and Hamilton – which are nearly as large as Ottawa – or to medium-sized centres like Oshawa and London.

That works fine for Carter. “I appreciate the input from all councillors. The system works well.”

Josh Matlow, Toronto’s Ward 12 Councillor, said the Premier should be careful what he wishes for, citing the problems in Toronto when Doug Ford’s brother Rob was in charge.

“We don’t need to look very far back in our own history to understand how important the ability to hold the mayor’s power to account is,” he said on social media, while referring to Ford in one media report as a “crack-smoking mayor under an active police investigation.”

“As they say, ‘hope for best and plan for the worst’.”

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