FoNTRA asks Mayor Tory to repudiate the special legislative provisions in Bill 39

November 23, 2022

Toronto City Hall
100 Queen Street West
Toronto, ON M5H 2N2

RE: Bill 39: Better Municipal Governance Act, 2022

Dear Mayor John Tory and Members of City Council,

This is to express our strong opposition to Bill 39, and concern about recent revelations about the involvement of the Mayor in originating its passage.

Bill 39, if passed, would enable the Mayor of Toronto (and also of Ottawa) to get a bylaw passed by Council with only one third of the councillors voting in support. As such, only eight of the 25 councillors would need to be onside to have his way, at least on measures that line up with the aims of the provincial government.

Bill 39 expands on governance matters changed in the government’s earlier Bill 3. The Strong Mayors Act centralizes several powers in the Office of the Mayor. The provisions in Bill 3 offend three basic principles of municipal government in Ontario:

  1. that Council is supreme;
  2. that City staff are members of the independent Public Service reporting to its head, the City Manager, and providing non-partisan professional advice to Council;
  3. that, with only a few exceptions (relating to negotiating agreements and individual privacy), Council will conduct its business, and its deliberations in public.

Bill 39 lowers the bar for approval in passage of legislation and in so doing introduces a fourth offence – the most serious of all – the democratic principle of “majority plus one” in determining decisions.

You are seeing united opposition to this Bill, from all five former Mayors, and from across civil society in Toronto and Ottawa. We hope that Mayor Tory heeds this massive rejection and stands with democracy.

We respectfully request Mayor Tory to personally repudiate the special legislative provisions in Bill 39 which he reportedly requested of the Ontario government.

Yours truly,

Geoff Kettel
Co-Chair, FoNTRA

Cathie Macdonald
Co-Chair, FoNTRA

Photo: abdallahh from Montréal, Canada, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons