By Dr David Laing Dawson
Doug Ford wants the municipal governments of Ontario to adopt the American model. U.S. mayors, like the US president, have executive powers. They decide things. They award contracts. They don’t have to contend with a fractious group of councillors. They have power. And with power residing in one person we can have efficiency, quick decisions, a single vision, the rapid enactment of a plan. And we can also have corruption.
“Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
We have all grown up hearing this adage over and over again. But I suspect we each hear it as “Power corrupts – others, not me.”
I know of an astonishing number of US state governors and state representatives being convicted felons but this proposal by Doug Ford made me wonder about U.S. city Mayors. So I looked it up. I stopped counting at 50.
Power corrupts. A pot of public money attracts crooks faster than yellow jackets to syrup. Municipalities, cities, with so many lucrative contracts to dish out, need all the safeguards we can possibly apply. We need to accept the slowness of change, the tangles of red tape and the constant bickering of municipal politics.
We do not need to copy the American model at any level of governance. We suffer sufficient folly (and undoubtedly bits of corruption) as it is. We do not need to add an American scale of corruption to our poor, struggling Ontario cities.