Should Toronto be a Charter City?

There are different definitions of a charter city. In the United Kingdom, the charter is bestowed by the Crown and it enables those cities to make their own rules in regard to municipal affairs. In the United States, cities are controlled by the state where they are located. As Canada is similarly a federation, it is the provinces that make the decisions about the municipalities.

In regards to Toronto, we can safely say a charter city order by the Province of Ontario will not happen immediately. It would require a much more enlightened political party in power at Queen’s Park. It would certainly require a premier with fewer dull axes to grind with Toronto council.

But even so, if you want anything constructive to happen ten years from now, you had better start planning.

First of all, if you are serious, you need a movement, a political party maybe, behind you. This is proposition that needs to be understood by the voters. They have to see the benefit to them of the city being able to call the shots on taxes without the interference of the province. You need a great deal of help selling that. You have to show that the city would be able to levy entertainment, hotel and restaurant taxes. You want to show that when others benefit from city amenities, they should pay something toward the city services while they are here.

It is critically important that when the city takes responsibility, it can get the job done. City council has been hamstrung for too long by the so-called independent councillors who can be bought by this developer or that one. The mayor can hardly give leadership to a mixed bag of independent councillors. He or she needs to run on a platform that says what he and his party will do when in office. If they do not do what they promised, they can get turfed next time

And it is all to the benefit of the voters. They get to hear what each group will do while in office. They have the choice of voting in their ward for the candidate who supports that promise. They are the ones who pay. They have the right to call the tune.

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