Statement from Mayoral Candidate Gil Penalosa on Doug Ford’s ‘Strong Mayor’ Legislation

Toronto – “I commit that as Mayor I will use the power of ideas, rather than the power of a veto, to inspire Torontonians and Councillors to deliver a more affordable, equitable, and sustainable city with housing, beautiful parks, and safer streets that work for everyone.

The ‘Strong Mayor’ legislation tabled today by Doug Ford’s Conservative government centralizes power in the Mayor’s office, in service to the Premier, with an override on Council decisions that are in the ‘provincial interest’. That broad power should be concerning for all Torontonians.

John Tory has already failed to stand up for Torontonians’ interests on Ontario Place and when transit planning was uploaded by the province. This Strong Mayor Act, along with 2018’s pre-election Council cut from 44 Wards to just 25, has demonstrated that during the middle of an election Doug Ford and John Tory will work behind closed doors to do what’s best for them, not the residents of our city.

A Mayoral veto over budget amendments from Councillors disregards neighbourhood voices who have successfully advocated in the past for youth spaces, seniors’ programs, and additional support to fight rent increases. Vital community programs like these could now be in jeopardy.

Further, the ability for the Mayor to hire and fire senior City officials jeopardizes the impartiality of Staff advice. Will department heads feel free to speak truth to power on the issues that matter most to Torontonians when their job is solely in the hands of the one person wielding that power?

Finally, the notion that this legislation is needed to build housing is political spin trying to excuse eight years of inaction. The Mayor hasn’t gotten a shovel in the ground on even one project for his signature Housing Now plan despite full support from Council. Toronto is in a housing crisis because of a weak vision, not a “Weak Mayor” system.

This legislation moves Toronto’s governance in the wrong direction. We need to empower neighbourhoods to have more say at City Hall, not cut them out of the process. The people of Toronto can stand up against Doug Ford’s schemes for Toronto by using their own veto over John Tory and on October 24th.

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