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Why a TDSB Trustee is Requesting the Presence of the Queen

Trustee Chris Glover says he wants to ask the Queen to make two appointments to the TDSB board. He's not (entirely) serious.

The Queen on her visit to Canada in 2010. Photo by {a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/nosam/4769224851/"}peter j mason{/a} from the {a href="http://www.flickr.com/groups/torontoist"}Torontoist Flickr Pool{/a}.

In a few hours, Chris Glover will explain to his fellow TDSB trustees why he’s recommending that they revert to the pre-democratic practice of royal appointment to deal with two vacant positions on the board. He’ll be joking. Mostly.

Here is an excerpt from a motion [PDF] by Glover. It’s on tonight’s school board agenda.

Whereas, any process other than democratic elections will be untested, open to the challenge of bias, and have no historical basis; and

Whereas, the practice before the democratic elections were introduced to Ontario was to have all people of power appointed by the King or Queen, or their designates, which has been tested, is free of bias (except for any perceived bias of Her Majesty), and has a sound historical bias;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that in the matter of finding replacements for two trustee vacancies in Ward 17, Don Valley East, and Ward 20, Scarborough-Agincourt, the process revert to the pre-democratic practice of royal appointment and that Queen Elizabeth II be approached to directly appoint or to choose a designate to appoint replacement trustees for the two wards.

This is an actual, formal proposal that TDSB trustees will have to decide on. But Glover, like any sane person would, hopes (and expects) that the board will turn it down. Why? Well.

The whole legislative dust-up has its origins—where else?—in an argument about spending.

During the October provincial election, two trustees—Michael Coteau and Soo Wong—became MPPs, leaving their school-board seats empty and in need of filling. The board now has, essentially, two options: interview replacement trustees and appoint two of them without any organized public input, or hold two by-elections so that the communities involved (Don Valley East and Scarborough Agincourt) can have a say in who represents them.

Appointing new trustees would be easy; it would take a few newspaper advertisements and some press releases to drum up interest among potential candidates, but that’s about it. Holding two by-elections, meanwhile, would cost an estimated $423,400 before HST.

So you can see the board’s conundrum.

“The purpose behind my motion is to make light of the situation a little,” said Glover. He’s concerned that the cost considerations will sway the board in favour of making appointments. Stinginess is a proven path to political popularity in Toronto.

As Glover sees it, elections are the better choice. But if we’re going to have appointments, why stop there? At least with royalty involved, there would be some spectacle.

“There have been some requests that if the motion passes, that the Queen be asked to attend in person,” said Glover.

One argument in favour of spending the money is that TDSB would be able to amortize its investment over a fairly long period of time. “We’re only a year into our mandate,” he said. “There’s three years left.” The next municipal election isn’t until 2014.

Glover thinks the other trustees will take his motion in the intended spirit. “I don’t think it’ll pass,” he said. “You know, I just can’t imagine it getting through.”

But who knows?

“Maybe I should draft a letter to the Queen right now,” he said.

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