This morning, I submitted a motion to the Clerk’s Office. Notice of this motion would be given at the meeting of City Council next week for consideration and debate at the meeting of Council on December 16 & 17. A copy of this motion is below.
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NOTICE OF MOTION
Motion to Improve the Decision Making Environment at City Hall
Moved By: Councillor John Filion
Seconded By: Councillor Paul Ainslie
In accordance with section 27-7 of the Council Procedures, City Council suspend the necessary rules and substitute special rules for the balance of the current term of office, that give effect to the following:
1) City Council suspend the power of the Mayor to appoint and dismiss the Deputy Mayor and Standing Committee Chairs under Section 27.40 of the Council Procedures.
2) City Council confirm the appointment of the incumbents in the offices of Deputy Mayor and Standing Committee Chairs for the balance of this term.
3) City Council confirm that the incumbent Deputy Mayor and the Standing Committee Chairs remain cross appointed to the Executive Committee.
4) If vacancies occur, that the Deputy Mayor be appointed by City Council and the Standing Committee Chairs be elected by the respective committees.
5) If a Standing Committee Chair resigns as a Chair and member of the Executive Committee, he or she would remain as a member of the committee on which they have served as Chair.
As a result of police documents made available on October 31, 2013, together with the disclosure by Toronto Police of additional material in their possession and investigations still underway, it appears that a majority of members of Council and a significant number of members of the Executive Committee have expressed serious concerns about the Mayor’s ability to lead the City government at this time.
An unstable decision making environment currently exists at City Hall. In a radio interview on November 4, Mayor Ford stated as follows: “I’ll be running the ship, even if it’s by myself.” He also invited members of the Executive Committee and the Deputy Mayor to resign if they disagreed with his course of action. With concern expressed from many quarters about the Mayor’s decision not to address the most serious allegations publically, and with the prospect of additional revelations, there exists a real possibility of a situation in which members of Council holding key political positions could be “fired” by the Mayor, or that there would be an insufficient number of Councillors willing to serve on the Mayor’s Executive Committee on his terms.
Beginning on December 1, 2006, Toronto’s Mayor was given additional powers by Council, under Section 27.40 of the Procedural Bylaw, to appoint and fire the Chairs of Committees and the Deputy Mayor. These members in turn form the majority of the Executive Committee, which has enormous influence on political decision-making in the City.
Under normal circumstances this creates an environment in which a Mayor who enjoys the support of Council can more easily move forward on an agenda. At the time this “stronger Mayor” system was created, it was not contemplated that there could be a situation under which a Mayor would lose the support of Council and perhaps even that of his hand-picked Executive Committee. Such a situation could make it extremely difficult to carry on the essential work of the City.
In order to ensure some stability under the present circumstances, Council could, with a two thirds vote, choose to suspend, for the balance of this term only, the powers it extended to the office of Mayor in 2006. Specifically, the Chairs of committees, the Deputy Mayor, and members of the Executive need to be able speak their minds about what is best for the City without fear of being “fired” by the Mayor. In addition, Council should ensure that there are enough members to serve on the Executive under any circumstances; at present, Council can only appoint four members out of 13, with all the rest chosen by the Mayor. There are no provisions for what happens if a majority of members resign or are fired and the Mayor is unable to find others willing to replace them.
In order to preserve stability, this motion proposes a situation under which the Deputy Mayor and all standing Committee Chairs remain in place unless they are fired or resign. This is desirable to create stability and to preserve the Mayor’s intention to appoint a fiscally conservative leadership, in keeping with the mandate given to him by voters in 2010.
If the Mayor is able to continue to work with the Chairs of committees, and with the Deputy Mayor – all selected by him – and should he continue to have their confidence, nothing would change as a result of this motion.
However, should vacancies occur, it is proposed that the respective committees choose a Chair from among their members, including the member who resigned as chair or was removed as chair.
It is proposed that these measures remain in place for the balance of this term only, and that whoever wins the 2014 contest for Mayor be given the same powers conferred by Council in 2006.