Total Recall: Rocco Rossi wants Torontonians to be able to sack their councillors by petition

Total Recall: Rocco Rossi wants Torontonians to be able to sack their councillors by petition

Rock on, Rocco (Image: Rocco Rossi) 

We’ll be the first to acknowledge that election campaigns are fun. There’s shouting, polls, shouting, the occasional policy proposal, and did we mention the shouting? So, it’s understandable that people might think we should have more elections, not fewer. We’re just surprised that one of those people is Rocco Rossi, whose latest proposal is a law that would allow voters to recall the mayor and councillors via a petition, like they can in some U.S. states and with British Columbian MLAs.

The Toronto Star has what few details there are:

Citing the anger many voters have expressed at City Hall and Mayor David Miller’s left-leaning council, Rossi said recall is one way to stop handing a mayor and councillors a “blank cheque” to do what they want for four years.

“We can channel the anger and cynicism into positive action,” Rossi said, vowing to have a plan to the province within six months of taking office.

Rossi had no details on how recall would be implemented for Toronto, saying the threshold for a vote is all-important, and would be set only after town hall meetings and other consultation with Torontonians.

According to the National Post, George Smitherman has already come out against the idea, saying it would create “perpetual politics” at city hall. It’s worth remembering here that Smitherman’s old boss Dalton McGuinty brought fixed election dates to Queen’s Park, making terms there more like the city’s.

We asked Rob Newman, spokesperson for Better Ballots Toronto, what he thought of Rossi’s idea. While Better Ballots is concerned with a lot of the same things Rossi is (low turnout and low voter engagement), Newman says recall initiatives like this are pushing at the wrong end of the problem.

“What would you need to get thrown out of office? 50 per cent? Right now, some councillors are elected with less than that,” says Newman. A recall process is a lot less valuable than fixing the way councillors and mayors get elected in the first place. Better Ballots has proposed a number of changes to elections in Toronto, but a recall policy isn’t one of them.

Maybe it would be worth it if we got a fiasco like when Arnold Schwarzenegger was elected governor of California (insert Total Recall joke here). In that election, he faced off against prominent gadflies like Arianna Huffington, as well as serious, totally-not-joke candidates like the late Gary Coleman, porn star Mary Carey, and model Angelyne (who’s running again this year, apparently). Frankly, if there’s one jurisdiction that could make Toronto city hall look functional by comparison, it’s Sacramento. Now, if Rossi could promise us regular visits from the Governator (a welcome change from other Republican state officials), we might be more inclined to support this idea.

• Rossi would bring voter recall to Toronto [Rocco Rossi for Mayor]
• Let voters fire mayor mid-term, Rossi says [Toronto Star]
• Rossi wants councillors, mayor subject to recall [Globe and Mail]
• Rossi proposes right to recall [Toronto Sun]
• Rocco Rossi would introduce voter recall at City Hall [National Post]