Mayor wants new rules to limit politicians' powers

Some are questioning whether a city or town council should be able to limit the power of their mayor, as there is currently no way to force an elected official out of office.

Sudbury Mayor Marianne Matichuk says citizens need legislation to keep elected officials accountable

Some are questioning whether a city or town council should be able to limit the power of their mayor, as there is currently no way to force an elected official out of office.

That’s what some Toronto city councillors want to do to Mayor Rob Ford, after he refused to step aside this week.

Sudbury’s mayor says the Rob Ford crack scandal is exactly the kind of situation she had in mind when she proposed recall legislation for municipal politicians in Ontario.

For the past year, Marianne Matichuk pushed for new rules that would see a mayor or city councillor removed from office, if enough citizens sign a petition.

Sudbury's mayor, Marianne Matichuk, has called for recall legislation in the past. (CBC)

She said she believes the public should have some way to intervene.

“That frightens me," she said. "That actually is something that everybody thinks … because in the States you can do that, right? In B.C., you can do that. But there’s nothing in Ontario. And I think that it’s time.”

She said she hopes the Rob Ford situation will prompt the provincial government to take another look at ways of keeping politicians accountable in between elections.

'What did I do?'

In 2008, the town council in Smooth Rock Falls voted to cut their mayor’s pay and restrict him from attending conferences and events.

Kevin Somer, who didn’t run for re-election in 2010 because of family reasons, said he still doesn’t know why.

“They kept on saying I know what I did,” he said.

Kevin Somer used to be the mayor of Smooth Rock Falls. In 2008, the municipal council cut his pay and restricted the events he could attend. He says he still doesn't know why. (Youtube)

“And I’m thinking ‘What did I do?’ I hadn’t done anything that I can think of and still to this day, I don’t know what they were talking about.”

About a year ago, the town council in Bruce Mines cut the honorarium of Mayor Gordon Post by $175 per month, arguing that he wasn’t doing a good enough job.

Post said the three town councillors never gave him any specifics and he later resigned.

He said he is still sore about what happened.

Post, who said he does plan to run again in next year’s municipal election, said he doesn’t think town councillors should be able to trump the will of voters.

“It wasn’t the council that elected the individual,” he said. “It was the ratepayers of the municipality.”

But Andrew Sancton, a political science professor at the University of Western Ontario who specializes in local government, said he doesn’t see too many councils abusing this power.

“I think a bigger danger is not actually having any mechanism to remove a mayor,” Sancton said.


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