Let's talk power

Every once in a while, the conversation about empowering mayors comes up. Often, it is targeted to provincial and territorial governments, with a call to give mayors more power.

Personally, I'm not a big fan of this. First, I don't see provincial/territorial legislation as a terribly important source of power for Canada's mayors (see rant here). Second, I think this furthers a paternal pattern of municipal-provincial relations that we need to move past in this country (like, way past).

Local governments are governments. Period. They can make decisions about their own governance arrangements - including how much power the mayor should have.

Newsflash: any council in the country can empower their mayor, if they want to. Want to give the mayor the ability to appoint councillors to committees and boards? Go for it. Want the mayor to have more control over council agendas, or give them the ability to appoint an executive committee with delegated authority to make some decisions? Have at it.

There is a long list of things that Canadian councils can do to empower their mayors. Councils should talk about their own governance model on a periodic basis - including how much power the mayor and others should have, and what kind of resources they need to meet the expectations held of them. Every Fortune 500 company invests time in conversations like this, to define roles, expectations and resource allocations. Why don't councils do this, too? Call me crazy, but I think they should.

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