Tuesday, January 22, 2013

More from the emails

Thought I'd pass this one along too for the Toronto politics junkies. The Munk School's Institute on Municipal Finance & Governance has a new report out on Toronto's mayoralty power structure. Very topical, to say the least.
The paper, by the IMFG’s André Côté, examines three of the fault lines that are causing friction:

The leadership dynamic in a system in which Council is supreme, and the mayor has fewer formal powers of agenda control and persuasion than his parliamentary counterparts;

How accountability is understood and applied, both through formal laws and policies, and the informal ways citizens hold elected officials to account; and

The role of the Toronto Public Service amid concerns that political pressure, the public dismissal of senior officials, and other forces are “politicizing” staff.
The paper also calls for some perspective in the civic dialogue about Toronto’s government. Over the past decade, the Toronto model has evolved into a unique hybrid, adopting some of the trappings and accountability mechanisms of parliamentary government, while retaining the openness and Council supremacy of the municipal model. Citizens need to recognize the “differentness” of this system. Local democracy can be messy, but it provides the public with access to the decision-making process in a way that opaque, highly centralized, and leader-dominated federal and provincial governments do not. Still, there is urgent need for public debate about municipal governance, and issues such as the relationship between the mayor and Council, and the capacity of residents to engage with City Hall.