A blog to give a voice to our concern about the continued erosion of our democratic processes not only within the House of Commons and within our electoral system but also throughout our society. Here you will find articles about the current problems within our parliamentary democracy, about actions both good and bad by our elected representatives, about possible solutions, opinions and debate about the state of democracy in Canada, and about our roles/responsibilities as democratic citizens. We invite your thoughtful and polite comments upon our posts and ask those who wish to post longer articles or share ideas on this subject to submit them for inclusion as a guest post.
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Sunday, September 30, 2018

Municipal Government Vulnerability

Lost among the back-and-forth political battles between Ford and Toronto city council is that municipalities are not constitutionally protected as sovereign levels of government in Canada.

As a federal state, Canada is a confederation of two co-equal levels of sovereign government: provincial and federal.

But municipalities fall under the jurisdictions of provincial legislatures, so therefore have no entrenched or constitutionally protected status. Municipal governments are the closest to the people and to local communities and arguably have the biggest impact on the day-to-day lives of citizens, yet they’re the least powerful and the most vulnerable to encroachment by the provinces.

This vulnerability was previously brought to the fore some years ago during the 'amalgamation' of not only the Toronto area but a number of other municipalities across Ontario. The amalgamation was widely opposed in Toronto and the other municipalities but amalgamation occurred despite a municipal referendum in 1997 in which in over three-quarters of voters rejected amalgamation. Under the Mike Harris conservatives the result was much the same as the recent move by the Ford government, enforced changes to the way local government operates by an upper level of government.

This was perhaps a little less problematic than the current mess for whist any number of citizens were unhappy with such changes there was at least a 'process' and an opportunity for 'input' prior to the implementation of such changes (even if such input was largely ignored) However we now have a premier who has not only said he is going to “hold governments accountable in over 460 towns in this province” (whatever that means) but has demonstrated that he will override the wishes of any municipality that he personalty disagrees with. Not only that but will do so with NO consultation with the municipality affected or their citizens ….... scary, very scary!

“while amalgamation technically decreased the number of municipalities in Ontario — down from 850 to 445 — and 23 per cent of elected official positions were axed, (a 2014 report says) more people than ever are working in Ontario’s municipal governments.” We wonder what future disasters Fords proposed but unspecified 'efficiencies' will bring to our various local government operations and how much say we the citizens will have upon any changes our new authoritarian Ontario government bring down upon us.

The question needs to be asked of all our provincial politicians (particularly the Ford regimes supporters) are you 'for the people' or for yourself and your party.

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Owen Gray said...

We like to think that our governments are built on a series of checks and bakances,Rural. But municipalities have no checks against federal or provincial authorities. That's simply anti-democratic.

Rural said...

Such checks and balances seem to be dwindling at all levels Owen!