Toronto council has asked Doug Ford to repeal the mayor’s strong powers | Daily News Byte

Toronto council has asked Doug Ford to repeal the mayor’s strong powers

 | Daily News Byte

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Toronto city council is calling on the Doug Ford government to repeal a bill that allows the mayor to pass certain rules without a majority vote.

The motion, which was passed at Thursday’s council meeting, is part of a larger debate over extended mayoral powers granted to the city earlier this month by the Ontario government.

The legislation, also known as Bill 39, gives the mayors of Toronto and Ottawa the ability to propose and amend bylaws related to provincial priorities with a vote of more than one-third of council instead of a majority vote.

For Toronto, this would mean nine out of 25 councilors would have to support the mayor’s agenda.

The new powers, now in force, were specifically requested by Tory and heavily criticized by the majority of the council.

On Thursday, Counc. Amber Morley said that while she knew her motion was symbolic, she felt it was important for council to share their opinions with the province.

“I will look to my colleagues for their support to send this symbolic message to the province that this bill has no place in the city of Toronto and in any modern democracy in the world and it must be repealed,” he said.

Morley argued that the law allowed certain people to have the power to disenfranchise voices that deserved justice.

“I think it’s important for us as individuals, as leaders in our society, to stand up against abuses of power or overreach of power, which we’ve heard over and over again that has never been done.”

The motion passed 17 to 8, with Tory among those voting no. One councilor was absent from the vote.

Council also voted to ask the mayor of Toronto “not to exercise any power allowing motions to be passed with less than a 50 percent majority of the council” as well as a motion asking the province to allow the city of greater autonomy and decision-making regarding traffic safety, housing, cannabis application approval, and revenue-raising measures.

Council is also asking the province to hold consultations with the City of Toronto about provincial priorities set under strong mayoral powers.

As it stands, the powers can be used for anything related to housing construction, including building and maintaining related infrastructure such as transit and roads.

‘NOBODY’ IS TALKING ABOUT BILL 39: MAYOR

Both Tory and Ford have been steadfast in their support for Bill 39, saying councilors opposing the measures are playing “political theatre” or just want to hold on to their own power.

Speaking Wednesday, Tory maintained that in his conversations with residents, no one spoke to him about the law.

“You know who is talking to me about Bill 39? Nobody. They talked about housing, they talked about community safety,” he told reporters. “No one is talking to me about it. Nobody.”

“I’ll tell you what people raised me: housing, community, safety, transit. That’s what I’m doing here. Not theatrical productions.”

Before Bill 39 passed, 15 councilors sent a letter to the premier asking him to reconsider the bill until further consultation takes place. That letter, as well as numerous petitions calling for further consultation or for the law to be overturned, were ignored.

Speaking to reporters last week, the premier accused councilors who criticized the strong-willed mayor of wanting to “hold on to their power.”

“Having a councilman who gets 3,000 votes and has the same voting power as the mayor, that’s trampling on democracy,” Ford said at the time.

Toronto city council did not have a chance to debate or discuss the mayor’s extended strong powers until after the bill passed the Legislature, despite calls for a special meeting to be held.

In committee meetings, councilors said the bill “overrides the will of the voters” and “reduces the democratically elected city council to a tool for another government’s agenda.”

Bill 39 expands on another batch of strong mayoral powers granted to Toronto and Ottawa in November. Under that law, mayors have the ability to control the city budget, hire and fire department chiefs, and veto laws or amendments that conflict with provincial priorities.

While Tory said he supported the powers, he also stressed that he would first strive for consensus from the council and would not use them unless it was an issue of “city-wide importance”.



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