Doug Ford, Ontario’s bloated and bloviating new premier, wants to cut the size of Toronto city council by nearly 50 per cent.
Ford, a former councillor and failed mayoral candidate, is vengefully aiming to reduce the number of council seats from 47 to 25. Doing so would align municipal electoral districts with their provincial and federal counterparts and save taxpayers millions of dollars, he says.
Ford’s plan is both calculated and cynical. It ignores the realities of municipal government and the importance of local representation. Coming, as it does, only three months before council elections in Ontario, it is a deliberately reckless move designed to create maximum political chaos.
Ford’s logic — that municipal electoral districts should mirror federal districts — dictates Nova Scotia should have 11 elected council members in the entire province. Region of Queens Municipality would get 11.22 per cent of one council position representing the entirety of South Shore–St. Margaret’s, which has a population of 91,830 and includes Lunenburg County, Shelburne County and parts of Halifax Regional Municipality.
Clearly the Doug Ford plan for Toronto could not be applied to Nova Scotia. We need municipal councils to manage civic affairs and we rely on local representation to ensure our voices are heard. But the premier’s half-baked idea does put things into perspective.
Does RQM really need one councillor for every 1,472 residents?
Does Nova Scotia really need one MLA for every 18,546 people?
They’re worthwhile questions to ask, certainly. But a slash-and-burn approach to local democracy isn’t the answer, no matter what province you’re talking about.