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Adnan Subzwari

It’s time to bring party politics into municipal governance

For the past six months, Toronto has been captivated by the foibles of its bumbling mayor, who seems to be stumbling from one scandal to the next. The revelations that Mayor Rob Ford has indeed smoked crack cocaine and his refusal to resign is without doubt a deeply embarrassing episode for the city. But while the Mayor’s actions have received the bulk of the media’s attention in this saga, it is worth noting that Toronto City Hall has been an incredibly dysfunctional place for quite some time now. Anyone remember the garbage bag fiasco where council voted to remove the levy on plastic bags and then immediately voted to ban those bags altogether? Or what about the garbage collectors strike that lasted for months? And it’s not just Toronto that has been victim to completely inept municipal governance. Similar dysfunctionality has plagued other city councils as well, from Montreal to Mississauga. It is high time that we had a debate on reforming our municipal governments. The problems with city councils are plenty. We have a few dozen independent minded councillors with all kinds of weird and crazy ideas, constantly throwing the wrench in the decision-making process. It is why Toronto has for more than five years been unable to agree on a simple transportation expansion for Scarborough. Then we have the absurdity of fixed elections. Essentially, we are given one chance in every four years to elect people to municipal office. And then, they are free to do whatever they want until the next election. Don’t like what they’re doing? Too bad: wait for the next election. There is absolutely no recourse to throw the bad apples out. And finally, we have a directly elected mayor with little executive power. Sorry, but what’s the point of a directly elected mayor if he or… Read More