Speaking to Global News’ Colin D’Mello in an interview hosted by the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, Marit Stiles said she would take strong mayor powers away from Toronto and Ottawa’s mayors if she ever becomes premier.
Stiles is currently the only candidate who has declared to run for Ontario NDP leader, with the deadline set to close on Dec. 5. Other colleagues have expressed interest in a potential bid, but no one other than Stiles has announced an official bid.
“It is not what we voted for in this city, it is not what people across this province voted for,” Stiles said of the strong mayor powers handed to Tory by the province. “I don’t know any other democratic institution where minority rules like that.”
The NDP called on Tory to withdraw his request for more powers at a press conference on Wednesday.
The most recent round of powers announced could hand Tory the ability to pass decisions with the support of just one-third of his council if they are in line with provincial priorities.
Proposed regulations posted by the province defined those interests as “building 1.5 million new residential units by 2031” and “the construction and maintenance of infrastructure to support accelerated supply and availability of housing including, but not limited to, transit, roads, utilities, and servicing.”
The new powers are outlined in Bill 39, which is yet to be passed into law.
“Pull that back. Undo it,” Stiles said, calling the proposed legislation “outrageous” and “anti-democratic.”
Last week, a coalition of five former mayors wrote to Tory urging him to reject the additional powers. Art Eggleton, David Crombie, Barbara Hall, David Miller, and John Sewell said they were “appalled” by the potential new powers.
“I’ll be honest for you, when I heard that John Tory, the mayor of Toronto, asked for that power in the middle of the election, I thought to myself, ‘how lazy is that?'” Stiles said. “Like really? That’s how you want to get this stuff done?”
Tory has defended the proposed changes.
“Most of the province’s ‘Strong Mayor’ tools came into effect this week and mayor Tory has been clear that his leadership style and overall approach to City Council, consistently demonstrated over eight years, will not change,” a spokesperson for Tory told Global News. “The mayor will continue to work collaboratively with Council to get things done, as he has done for two terms.”
The spokesperson said Tory would only use the proposed powers for housing and transit projects of city-wide importance.
“Any use of that proposed measure would likely be rare and will always be preceded by a City staff report and he will, without exception, always try first to forge a consensus through the use of the council process.”
Tory was elected for a third term as Mayor of Toronto with 62 per cent of the vote.