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Robert MacDermid, an associate professor of political science at York University.

A political expert says municipal leaders have no power to influence the courts.

Thunder Bay Mayor Keith Hobbs recently spoke out about his views on crime and punishment as they relate to Thunder Bay. He said the courts are weak, and pledged to challenge the judiciary to get tough on crime.

Robert MacDermid, an associate professor of political science at York University, said he was surprised to hear that a mayor would be making such comments. A municipal leader has no power to influence how the courts operate, he said, and there's no connection between the municipal act and the judicial system.

"We're deluding ourselves if we take his word at face value, because really he doesn't have any influence over the application of law — nor should he," MacDermid said.

MacDermid said politicians sometimes express dissatisfaction about how laws are applied in an attempt to create a "tough on crime" image. He said Hobbs can only influence public opinion.

He noted the fact that Hobbs is a former police officer might mean he has some insight into the issue, but said he doesn't think the mayor should mislead people into thinking that he can change anything.