Oshawa says strong mayors’ legislation will “put a target” on the mayor’s back

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Published September 13, 2022 at 2:37 pm

Oshawa councillors were unanimous in their bitter opposition to Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s plan to grant greater powers to big city mayors in Toronto and Ottawa.

The provincial “Strong Mayor” legislation is aimed at Toronto and Ottawa right now but Ford has said he plans to expand the scope beyond Toronto and Ottawa to other municipalities as a way to get more badly needed housing built.

Ontario’s Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark introduced the legislation last month, noting it would give the mayors of the province’s two largest cities veto powers over municipal bylaws that conflict with “provincial priorities” such as budget issues and would give mayors the power to hire and fire staff and committee members.

Oshawa Mayor Dan Carter introduced the motion at Monday’s Development Services Committee meeting, saying most of the other mayors he spoke with on the subject agreed the legislation is not a good idea.

“We benefit from having the voices of a full council,” he said. “You win some, you lose some, but the democratic process works well.”

Councillor Brian Nicholson said the legislation would only serve to “put a target” on the backs of city mayors.

“These powers are being given to one person and one person only,” he said. “You’re basically wiping out democracy.”

Councillor Jane Hurst said the policy turns the provincial government into a “dictatorship,” while Derek Giberson noted that the real loser of this legislation is the voter.

“What a way to tell voters when election season comes around that you can come and participate in a song and dance but when you elect your representatives and send them to your council the exercise was exactly that – a song and dance.”

The motion, which passed 6-0, will have Carter drafting a letter in opposition to the provincial legislation. The motion still has to be approved at the final council meeting of this term of council on September 26.

Toronto Mayor John Tory supports the idea, while Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson, who is not seeking re-election, does not.

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