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LETTER: Provincial government should leave municipal democracy alone

'The head of council does not have any more power than any other member of council to make decisions on behalf of the municipality'
2021-10-04 Doug Ford TADH2 MH
Ontario Premier Doug Ford

GuelphToday received the following Letter to the Editor from reader Don Rusk regarding Premier Ford's comments on the powers mayors have in their municipalities.

Democracy literally means , "from the people" . Dictator literally means "one who speaks", or, "one who prescribes".

The Ontario Municipal Councillors Guide says, "The head of council has a prominent and very public profile. Many citizens within your municipality will have high and often varied expectations for the head of council. The head of council must find a way to balance these expectations and special responsibilities.
Municipal decisions, however, are made by council as a whole. Generally, the head of council does not have any more power than any other member of council to make decisions on behalf of the municipality. Each member of council only has one vote."

The system was designed to force council members to compromise and the mayor is supposed to facilitate that compromise.

Yesterday Doug Ford said, "I just think that the mayor of Toronto or Ottawa, or any mayor, they’re accountable for everything but they have the same single vote as a single councillor." In 2012 he said, "Anything goes wrong with the police or roads or transit, and they blame the mayor. The mayor doesn't have much power over all those areas, but people treat him like he does. It makes for a tough job."

Yes it's a tough job and giving a mayor dictatorial veto powers would speed things up but the mayor speaks to the public on behalf of council he doesn't prescribe what decisions they make. For at least a decade Doug Ford has been advocating giving more powers to mayors simply because there is a perception that mayors have those powers. It's a ridiculous undemocratic argument. When Doug was told in 2012 that Rob Ford didn't have the authority to cancel Transit City, he responded that he should have. If people don't understand the limits of the mayors power then educate them. If being the public face of council is too hard then do something else.

If Doug Ford still needs therapy to recover from his days on council with Rob can we get him some. I think he's still pouting because the Fords didn't get to be the Royal Family of Toronto or as his mother put it, "the Canadian Kennedys".

The average house in Guelph costs more than a million dollars. An average one bedroom apartment costs $1996 . The cheapest gas in Guelph today is $1.739. It's a three hour drive to the zoo because of road construction. People can't afford food. People are sleeping in the streets. COVID is surging again. Can the premier please just leave municipal democracy alone and run the province.

Cam Guthrie should be saying that he will do his job and help council to work together. He should be saying that council can get things done without him having additional power.

If not, then why is he mayor?

Don Rusk