Make the mayor accountable—give him a political party
The Globe scored an exclusive with Mayor David Miller, and the result is a headline plucked from a 2005 time capsule: the mayor wants more powers from the province. Nowhere does the story raise the issue of municipal political parties, even though it quotes one councillor—Brian Ashton—at length who supports them. Reading the Globe and Star on this issue is starting to feel awkward. You have to work hard to write around a growing blind spot.
If councillors are concerned about giving the mayor’s office too much power for fear of creating a potential tyrant, there’s one way to fix that: make the mayor accountable to a membership-based political organization. I suppose there might be other solutions, but parties are the most tried and true, having been thoroughly road-tested at other levels of government. Introducing political parties to municipal politics would no doubt create a host of small problems, but it’s an obvious way to begin fixing many of the bigger ones.
Meanwhile, the other angle that’s been overlooked by everyone (mea culpa) on this story is Mayor Miller’s clever little magic trick. Last October, politically battered and bruised over his new tax proposals, he was forced (or perhaps even shamed) to create a fiscal review panel to examine the city’s finances. By the time its work was done—presto chango—the fiscal review panel had been spun into a governance review panel that played straight into his reform agenda. What was once expected to be a damning report has been turned into his main policy plank. I feel like he just played the shell game on me, and I want my ten bucks back.