Why is a separate municipal mayoral election necessary?

The inability to be able to remove a ‘bad mayor’ who refuses to leave may be a result of having an election for mayor separate from the election of councillors.

I don’t know the history of mayors but it may be an archaic form of municipal government that is similar to having a king and a separate elected legislature by regions within the city called wards. The United States has a similar older form of English government with a president (replacing the king) who is elected separately via an electoral college from a popular vote within the states, along with the House of Representative whose members are elected by popular vote from each state and the Senate by geographical representation for each state. England’s later ‘Westminster style’ of parliament which Canada, Australia and New Zealand adopted as well as all of the Canadian provinces, has a Governor General or Lieutenant Governor (Provinces) representing the Crown who is appointed by the Prime Minister.

So both our federal and provincial governments do not have a separately elected head of state. A party system is employed whereby party leaders are chosen by the respective parties but not elected by a popular vote of the whole country. They are elected in one riding like every other member and do not represent the entire country or province. Whichever party wins the most seats forms the government and the party leader is then elevated to the office of Prime Minister to form either a majority government (if they have enough members to win any vote) or a minority government which requires coalition formation.

So if the upper two levels of our governments in Canada do not have a separately elected head of state why does a municipality like Toronto?

It is apparent that a separately elected head of state as in the U.S. has and is causing gridlock between the various branches of government and in the case of Toronto it has now produced a situation where a ‘bad mayor’ cannot be removed because he will not follow advice to step down.

I propose that we change our municipal governance to follow the ‘Westminster model’ just as we have at the federal and provincial levels, so that there will be no separate mayoral elections.

In fact we have now been pushed into that form, given that Councillor Norm Kelly was only elected by his Scarborough Agincourt riding but has been elevated to function as the mayor until the next municipal election.

This new ‘Westminster system’ for municipal government would work just like the federal and provincial levels. There would be parties and they would put forward leadership candidates, who would have to win their ward election. The party that won the most seats would have their elected leader placed in the position of mayor.

This method has the advantage that a ‘bad mayor’ would be forced out of the mayor’s office by losing the confidence of his/her party or having the mayor’s party removed from power by losing the confidence of the City Council.

Let us get rid of this archaic election of a separate mayor, which can produce the kind of gridlock we now see in Toronto and choose instead a ‘Westminster style’ chosen mayor.


About Murray Lumley

Board member of Conscience Canada; Christian Peacemaker Teams Reservist; retired teacher; grandfather
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