Thursday, February 17, 2011

Ford's New Plan to Strong Arm Toronto

I found this piece in the Globe and Mail to be a chilling reminder of why I don't think I can ever vote for a candidate named "Ford":
If they had their way, the Ford brothers would be able to override the wishes of a council that didn’t vote the way they wanted.

Since he swept into office, Mayor Rob Ford and his older brother, councillor Doug Ford, have established a highly centralized administration that holds the reins of power tightly.

Not tightly enough, Doug Ford said in an interview this week.

“I believe in a strong mayor system, like they have in the States. The mayor should have veto power ... so he has enough power to stop council,” Mr. Ford said. “The mayor should be the mayor. At the end of the day ... the mayor’s responsible for everything.”
I can't assume that Mayor Ford has the same opinion as Councillor Ford, but I'm starting to wonder who's pulling whose strings in this political family.

Seriously though, mayoral veto powers? 100% veto powers? Like what the United States, notorious for a very slow, inefficient, and squabbling political system on almost every level of government, part of it thanks to that executive power there, has? Yeah, that's not a good idea, Toronto. Not a good idea at all.

Democracy is messy, I get it. And yes, the Mayor has big responsibilities and he should have some sort of control over the situations that crop up from time to time in Council - but 100% veto powers? What is that going to accomplish, other than deadlock the entire system?

Ford, whether Mayor or Councillor, needs to realize that the mayor isn't the only person who was elected to represent their constituents wishes. That's the very purpose for Council - to provide a counterbalance to the power of the mayoralty and the executive. They also have a responsibility to their constituents and the entire City of Toronto, which is something you'd expect that the Fords would understand. Can you imagine the ruckus that would've been made by then-Councillor Rob Ford would've made if David Miller vetoed everything that came out of council on the grounds that "he didn't agree with it"? And that's quite literally the standard being set here, folks. Go read the article. If Rob/Doug Ford don't like it, it's done for.

What makes the entire article just a laughingstock is Doug Ford's comments about how Rob meets with others, learns about their ideas, tries to incorporate and work with them, etc. Well, duh, that's how its supposed to be done. Whether Rob does it out of the goodness of his heart or because its politically necessary doesn't matter - co-operation is how stuff gets done on a Council set up the way it is in Toronto. If you can't get others on board, then don't bother.

But then again, we have the Ford brothers telling us that, hey, we don't actually need consensus - we can just get a veto! And if there is consensus on something that we don't agree with, well - poof! Vetoed!!!

The entire idea of these municipal legislatures that lack parties, lack really clearly defined boundaries, etc., is to try and foster the spirit of co-operation as best as is possible. There's something to be said about having a so-called "strong mayor" system, whereby you can have increased efficiency at the expense of democratic powers and rights of the Council - but how does that carry forward the spirit of the legislature? We can't simply allow mayors to out-muscle other elected representatives on the basis that he has a shinier nametag.

But, hey, don't let my voice stop you, Ford(s). It seems you're perfectly willing to ignore everyone else's too.

1 comment:

  1. Oh god, have my chances at political office been limited by the negative branding of the last name 'Ford'? One more reason for me to dislike this guy. - Tracy Ford