Here's what Ottawa's mayoral candidates are saying about Ontario's 'strong mayor' legislation
The Ontario government has tabled new legislation that would grant additional powers to the mayors of Toronto and Ottawa.
The legislation, dubbed the 'Strong Mayors, Building Homes Act', would give the mayors of the province’s two largest cities the power to hire and fire department heads, single-handedly propose the municipal budget, and veto bylaws approved by council if they are “related to matters of provincial authority,” though the mayoral veto could be overturned if two-thirds of council vote to overrule it.
The Ford government touted the legislation as a tool to give the mayors the ability to “move priority projects forward and get more homes built faster.”
Outgoing mayor Jim Watson says he did not ask the provincial government for additional powers and disagreed with the proposal.
"Members of council can hold me and my office to account and I think that's a good system, but if they have to gather up two-thirds of their members to overturn a mayor's decision that's not really democratic at all," he told CTV News at Noon.
However, Watson won’t be the mayor when the powers come into effect once the legislation is passed.
CTV News Ottawa asked all 12 mayoral candidates their thoughts on the legislation.
Brandon Bay told CTV News Ottawa he does not support the strong mayor proposal and doesn’t believe it will improve the city.
“Unilateral powers to appoint committee heads, develop the budget, and veto council's decisions are of particular concern,” he said.
“The province’s stated goals with these changes, building housing and moving faster, are good, and are central to my platform. However, giving too much power to one office undermines council, voters, and democracy. There is a huge potential for corruption in these changes.
“The mayor, as any leader, should lead council by working with them. The highest office should have the strongest vision for what kind of incredible city we will be, and work with councillors and residents to build it. Agreement and consensus should be won through diplomacy and inspiration, and decisions should be made as a group.
“Working together leads to the best decisions, just not always fast ones. In a crisis situation, having emergency act type powers available may be appropriate, but even then it would be best to empower the council or a committee of it, instead of a single elected official.”
Bob Chiarelli has not yet replied to a request for comment Wednesday, but previously said, when news of the proposed legislation was first announced, that he would be in favour of using it to break a council deadlock.
"It is a tool that will be available," Chiarelli said. "I would be in favour of it. If we do have a deadlock at council then the power of the mayor can be used to break a tie or break a dispute, and it could be used very responsibly."
Bernard Couchman replied to CTV News Ottawa’s request to simply say, “No comment.”
Graham MacDonald said he is in favour of the strong mayor powers.
“As a former CEO I do support the proposed "Strong-Mayor" powers as a tool to effectively and efficiently get more housing built in Ottawa, this tool will ensure the wants and needs of the citizens of Ottawa are being met.”
Catherine McKenney says that the cities need their own powers, but it should not be concentrated in the mayor.
“I’ve never supported strong mayor model. It’s undemocratic. It takes away the democratic rights of residents who elect both a mayor and the councillors,” McKenney told CTV’s Natalie van Rooy. “To be able to overrule any decision by council with only 33 per cent of the vote essentially and it’s not what we need to move forward to make our city more affordable for everyone.
“What we need really is a strong city model where actual cities have more power. Very little has been denied. Applications come to us and most have been accepted. I find it hard to understand how this will allow developers to push projects through any quicker.
“I agree we can tighten up our processes to get applications through but to ignore everyone’s voice at the table really is undemocratic.”
Ade Olumide said while he supports stronger mayoral powers, but he does not support a mayoral veto, which he says can be anti-democratic, "because requiring a party leader to maintain the confidence of the caucus is a healthy check to the risk of dictatorship."
“The Ontario government is right to identify a potential democratic deficit between a city-wide mayoral platform that was communicated to city-wide voters and a group of Councillors imposing a major platform that was not communicated to city-wide voters; however Mayoral Candidate Ade Olumide does not support giving a mayor power to dictate to Council, he supports a Constitutional Municipal Political Parties solution” he wrote.
Olumide also doesn't support a Council veto.
Param Singh said he “totally disagrees” with a strong mayor system.
“We can agree to disagree, but we must always respect one another and not only listen but understand each other in order to move forward as a council for the greater good of our residents,” he said.
“We need to work together as a team, not continue creating a divide within council. If elected mayor, I will bring the new council together.”
Mark Sutcliffe issued a press release Wednesday when the legislation was tabled to say the new powers are unnecessary.
"More housing is needed, but special powers for mayors are not," Sutcliffe said in a statement. "What the city of Ottawa needs is a fresh perspective on housing.
"I am the only candidate for Mayor who can build consensus to get more housing built, everywhere in the city. I'll do it in a way that's balanced and engages all of Ottawa city council to solve this crisis, through effective leadership - not through unilateral decision-making. Other candidates for mayor cannot build that consensus. I can, and I will."
Celine Debassige has yet to reply to CTV News Ottawa’s request for comment.
Mike Maguire said he would not use a veto if he becomes mayor.
“The real question is, ‘would I as Mayor use the veto?’ and the answer is ‘no’. It’s not only unnecessary in Ottawa, its usage would represent a failure to present a compelling vision to Council,” he said.
However, he also said a ‘strong mayor’ system could be worthwhile if it achieves its stated goal of improving housing.
“I think it's a fair question to ask, "why is it so difficult and why does it take so long to get a building permit in Ottawa?" If just having Strong Mayor authority (without using it) makes Council more efficiently deal with Planning, Zoning and Permitting then it's worth it.”
Gregory Guevara tells CTV News Ottawa, "Ford is a friend of ours. We asked him months ago to give us more power in order to enact the policies we have planned upon our election, and he agreed. While he did his best, the policy does not go far enough and we hope to see the mayoral powers further expanded, so that we will better be able to implement our policies."
Nour Kadri said he is supportive of the mayor having more authority than a ward councillor does, but said he would only use the strong mayor powers in “exceptional circumstances.”
“It is very limiting from the standpoint of effective governance and leadership for the Mayor to hold one vote on council when the responsibilities of overseeing a major city with urban, suburban and rural competing priorities are so immense,” he said. “To best serve the residents of Ottawa, the Mayor should have more authority than a ward councillor, but that authority should not defeat the majority of the council. As a collaborative leader I always seek to build consensus. Expanded powers come with tremendous responsibility. I would not make use of such powers other than in exceptional situations where leadership is called upon to make decisions that support the safety, betterment, and well-being of all the residents of Ottawa.”
NEW THIS MORNING
NEW THIS MORNING
NEW THIS MORNING | What's happening in Ottawa this weekend: Sept. 30 - Oct. 2
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
As Hurricane Ian rips through Florida, the immense destruction is also being felt by Canadian property owners, also known as snowbirds. For those who rode out the storm, it may be a long wait until they can book a flight home.
Team-based care is more efficient and benefits both patients and surgeons, so it should be widely adopted across surgical specialties, some surgeons say.
'Street shark': Video captured as Hurricane Ian struck Florida shows mystery fish in flooded backyard
Photos and videos of sharks and other marine life swimming in suburban floodwaters make for popular hoaxes during massive storms. But a cellphone video filmed during Hurricane Ian's assault on southwest Florida isn't just another fish story.
Climate change added at least 10 per cent more rain to Hurricane Ian, a study prepared immediately after the storm shows.
Rescue crews piloted boats and waded through inundated streets Thursday to save thousands of Floridians trapped amid flooded homes and shattered buildings left by Hurricane Ian, which crossed into the Atlantic Ocean and churned toward South Carolina.
A Russian oligarch indicted in the United States Thursday for conspiring to circumvent its sanctions regime stands accused of, among other things, having flowers delivered to a former member of Parliament in Canada.
While social workers and psychologists can offer tax-free services, bureaucratic confusion over the titles of counselling therapists and psychotherapists means they are the only mental health professionals who have to charge GST/HST, something a new campaign is looking to change.
Authorities say they are investigating how a convicted bombmaker was able to easily escape from a Nevada prison without anyone noticing for four days, before a tip led to his capture at a transit centre in Las Vegas Wednesday night as he prepared to board a bus out of town.
Why home insurance will get more expensive for all of us and unaffordable for some, according to experts
As extreme weather events such as Hurricane Fiona become more severe and common, experts say that could result in more expensive home insurance in the long term and are calling for a national flood insurance program.
Some Maritimers who lost power for days after post-tropical storm Fiona are questioning whether power utilities have properly prepared their grids for the powerful storms that are increasingly battering the region.
'This is our top priority': Nova Scotia Power continues efforts to get the province back online following Fiona
As Nova Scotia continues its clean up and restoration efforts after post-tropical storm Fiona left damage throughout the province, the focus remains on clearing trees and debris and getting the province back online.
Nova Scotians in need of financial aid following post-tropical storm Fiona can now apply for assistance from the provincial government.
Sunwing flight attendant says she saved passenger's life mid-air as pilot made emergency landing in Toronto
A Sunwing flight attendant saved a passenger's life who went into cardiac arrest as a pilot made an emergency landing at Toronto Pearson International Airport this week.
Toronto city councillor Michael Thompson has been charged with sexual assault, his lawyer has told CP24.
One person has died after a motorcycle and another vehicle collided in Etobicoke.
A 66-year-old Montreal man who is quadriplegic says he is seeking medical assistance in dying because changes to his home care services are causing him relentless pain and discomfort.
Despite his widely denounced comments about immigrants, Quebec Immigration Minister Jean Boulet could keep a seat in cabinet if the Coalition Avenir Quebec is re-elected Monday, leader Francois Legault said Thursday.
Elections Quebec says it is still looking to hire poll workers to fill vacancies in seven ridings across the province, including the Island of Montreal, with just four days left before voting day.
A protest planned Saturday in Sudbury is related to the situation in Iran, where a young woman died in custody after being arrested by that country's morality police.
Ontario Provincial Police are looking for a suspect who tried to get a student to get in his car this week in East Ferris.
Sault Area Hospital’s cardiac care unit is getting a financial boost from the province.
OPP are on the scene of a serious crash involving four vehicles in the eastbound lanes of Highway 401 just south of London, Ont. that sent six people to hospital, one with suspected life-threatening injuries.
Law students at Western University are demanding change after a professor used a racial slur during a lecture earlier this week. During a first-year law lecture on Tuesday, a professor was explaining the specifics of a legal case that used the N word, and while explaining the case to her students, the professor read the word aloud in its entirety.
Beagle cross Feldman plays in his backyard oasis in London, Ont.’s Old South neighbourhood, and is doing much better on Thursday. Just a few days earlier, the two-year-old had a brush with death.
Winnipeg's leading mayoral candidate is apologizing for his leadership style at a previous job, and denying recent sexual harassment allegations.
Staffing shortages at Winnipeg's emergency rooms and urgent care centres are still translating into longer wait times for emergency care, with nurses being brought in from other departments to help with the workload.
A Winnipeg father who fatally stabbed his three-year-old daughter won’t be eligible for parole for 18 years, a judge ruled Thursday afternoon.
The Kitchener GO line is being held after a pedestrian was reportedly struck by a train Thursday night.
The trial of former Kitchener neurologist, Jeffrey Sloka, who is facing dozens of sexual assault charges, continued in court Thursday.
A collision on Highway 401 has closed the two left lanes, according to Ontario Provincial Police.
Calgary's own Tegan and Sara call their upcoming Amazon series a "love letter to the '90s."
The number of people moving to Alberta is outpacing those who are leaving by a margin not seen in nearly eight years and some new residents are celebrating their choice to move.
An investigation is underway into the suspected Thursday morning homicide of a little girl in a southeast Calgary neighbourhood.
Saskatoon police may have located the remains of a Saskatoon woman who has been missing since September 2020.
A 26-year-old woman injured in a stabbing rampage on James Smith Cree Nation says she doesn’t know why she was attacked.
Woman found dead in Warman home had tape covering her mouth with accused’s finger prints: RCMP witness
Pictures of a woman’s body were projected on a screen at Saskatoon’s Court of King’s Bench on the fourth day of a murder trial.
A resident of south Edmonton fought back tears Thursday as he described how he lost hundreds of thousands of dollars on a cryptocurrency investment that he is now certain was a scam.
After several years of negotiations, Alberta doctors and the province have reached an agreement.
A group of downtown Edmonton business owners and neighbourhood leaders says the core desperately requires safety solutions, or the area is at risk of permanently losing investment.
An annual event that hopes to inspire young girls to take an interest in aviation has been postponed indefinitely.
An Indigenous mother in B.C. is speaking out after her son’s preschool sent students home with a culturally insensitive craft ahead of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, being marked Friday.
Creative or unrealistic? Ken Sim's ABC party releases full platform, promises to 'rethink the way City Hall is run'
On Thursday, Ken Sim and his ABC party slate of candidates released their full, 94-point platform, saying they will "rethink the way City Hall is run."
Some former Saskatchewan residents experienced hurricane conditions for the first time in Florida this week.
Effects of residential schools, truth and reconciliation discussed at Miyo-wîcîwitowin Day in Regina
Thousands of students, local leaders and members of the public are packed into Mosaic Stadium for Miyo-wîcîwitowin Day, an event discussing residential schools and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action.
The Saskatchewan Roughriders unveiled new orange jerseys the team will wear pre-game to recognize the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.