Election or appointment
Following some serious thought and discussions, at home and with my campaign team and supporters, I entered the election race to become Chair of Peel Region in the third week of July.
I did not register to run as Peel Region Chair because who I was not. The events surrounding the close of nomination eligibility at 2:00 p.m. on Friday July 27 were driven mostly by news about who was in, who had dropped out, and who had switched from registering for one position to a different position. With that dust settled, the people of the region, or their regional elected representatives, will choose a single individual to assume an important position to represent three cities, and a population of 1.4 million people.
Peel Region’s three growing cities need a seasoned and mature veteran to coordinate programs, services and resources that support Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon. After 15 years in the Ontario Legislature, I know how programs and legislation that affect municipalities are created. I have learned how to deal effectively with the Province, and work with precisely the key stakeholders affected by the Region of Peel. Moving forward, the Region of Peel needs to deal with:
- How the Region can work with its cities to ensure development includes affordable housing options;
- How to work with our hospitals and Local Health Integration Networks, and with developers and our cities’ plans, to ease the pressure on hospital emergency wards;
- Working with the Peel Police to reduce insurance fraud and lower regional premiums;
- Working with businesses, our cities and other regions to attract investment and build relationships among partners the federal and provincial government may not see as priorities.
This means that whether the position is filled by election or appointment, I remain committed to being a candidate for the position of Chair of Peel Region.
The post of Peel Region Chair should not be seen as the 4th mayor of three cities. It should be a senior executive role to ensure that the Regional government chosen by Peel’s cities, and its regional council, remains the best-managed, most effective and appropriate government for our 1.4 million people, and our dynamic region.
My campaign for Chair of Peel Region will, therefore, continue. On this web site, you will see an analysis of the legislation proposed by the Province. I have been a member of four governments, three of them majority governments. Majority Ontario governments do not always get their legislation through in the form they initially wish, or on the schedule they initially set out. Unless the proposed bill passes, the elections for the chairs of Peel, York, Niagara and Muskoka regions will proceed as scheduled.
How Ontario legislation passes
The Ontario Premier, in a Friday morning news conference, declared an intention to introduce legislation that would, if passed, nearly cut in half the number of seats on Toronto city council, and cancel regional chair elections in Peel, York, Niagara and Muskoka; all within 90 days of the 2018 municipal election on October 22, 2018.
Such legislation would open the Ontario Municipal Act; the Ontario Municipal Elections Act; and the City of Toronto Act, and perhaps other acts as well. In other words, it is not a small undertaking.
The earliest that such an act can be introduced to the Legislature (“First Reading”) is Monday July 30. Presuming the near-certainty that one opposition party tables a “reasoned amendment,” the Speaker will not allow debate on the bill to start the day it is introduced. As well, the government will almost certainly table a “time allocation bill” to truncate the debate time for the bill. However, a time allocation bill is itself debatable, so it will take time to pass the time allocation bill before its provisions can shorten whatever bill that affects the municipal elections.
This likely means that Second Reading of the bill in the Legislature will continue through the second week of August. The government has not said whether the bill will be referred to a Legislative standing committee for consideration, as bills should be. If so, it will require at least a day in committee, with perhaps another day for proposed amendments to be submitted. Then the committee considering the bill must meet for “clause-by-clause” consideration of the various amendments submitted. Only after this may the bill, perhaps amended, go back to the Legislature for “Third Reading.” Third Reading normally takes a day or two of debate. The vote after Third Reading passes the bill, which must then be subsequently “proclaimed” on behalf of the Queen by the Ontario Lieutenant Governor.
That takes the process likely to late in the third week of August, at the earliest, and depends on:
- Absolutely nothing unplanned happening during debate;
- No substantive or procedural delays during debate;
- No court proceedings interrupting or delaying the process of consideration of the bill.
It would not be prudent to assume passage, without opposition or delay, on a debate that opens three or more such substantive provincial acts. In short, stuff happens.
It is impossible to know if anything in a bill that has not yet been written (or introduced) can be challenged in court. Given the absence of any advance consultation; the fact that no municipality asked the Province to affect the 2018 municipal elections; and the inexperience of the new government, the odds of all or part of the proposed (and as yet unseen) act being flawless and sailing through the legislative process may not be strong.
A legal challenge that delays the process of passage of the act, in effect, would neuter the act in the 2018 elections.
In short, unless something definitive successfully happens in sufficient time to cancel the elections for the four regional chairs, they are on. Similarly, unless something definitive is passed in time to change the configuration of Toronto City Council, it too will proceed to the 2018 elections with 47 seats, as is the case now.
The incoming government never mentioned interfering with Ontario municipal elections in its 2018 election campaign. The proposed changes to the structure of Toronto City Council and to the election of regional chairs in Peel, York, Niagara and Muskoka were never mentioned in the government’s Speech from the Throne (i.e. where it sets its agenda for the session of the current Parliament).
Peel Region is an economic and population entity larger than the entire Province of Manitoba! Having one, single elected representative of all its 1.4 million people – the Regional Chair – is actually a good idea. The Province ought to be encouraging this check-and-balance of having an elected representative to work with the regional staff, and not trying to revert to having Peel Regional Council appoint the Chair.
The election campaign remains on! It is a campaign I intend to win, and a platform from which to advocate for our three cities; their businesses; and their residents. There are important issues to discuss this summer and autumn, and I intend to continue the consultation and the conversation.
Peel Chair candidate
On a warm and sunny July 19 afternoon, I registered my nomination forms at the Region of Peel offices for the position of Chair of the Region of Peel. Andrea joined me at the Peel Region offices, as Kathryn Lockyer, Director of Clerks and Regional Clerk and Tim Ivanyshyn, Clerk’s Legislative Services explained the municipal elections procedure, and accepted my nomination papers.
It will be exciting to take the 15 years of broad knowledge I gained at Queen’s Park and ask for a mandate from the 1.4 million people who live in Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon.
The position had, until this election, been an appointed position, with the Chair selected through a decision of Peel Region Council. Beginning this year, Ontario legislation mandates that all regional chair positions must be elected.
The core functions of Peel Region are ones that draw upon the 15 productive years I spent at Queen’s Park. As a Mississauga Member of Provincial Parliament, my landmark achievements were in the areas of health care and transportation. Along the way, I had the opportunity to work with my Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon colleagues on initiatives that benefit the entire region of some 1.4 million people.
In the summer and early autumn, I look forward to re-connecting – on a local level – with residents and community groups to talk about the ways in which an elected Peel Chair can work with our dynamic cities and their representatives to enhance public health; make Peel a safer place to live, work and do business; address affordability of housing, attract high-value careers; and remain effective and efficient in our approaches to roads; policing; recycling and waste removal.