Torontoist wants to join in on the chorus of people complaining about Dalton McGuinty’s announcement yesterday that Toronto city councillors’ terms have been lengthened to four years instead of three. It seems like a minor change and in fact many city councillors were strongly supportive of the move.
But let’s look at what’s actually going on here. Of course city councillors would be supportive of this move, a good number of Toronto’s 44 councillors were acclaimed (or ran in ridings with no real opposition) in the last election. Councillors, in most cases, also stick around for a long, long time. In fact one of the only ways to unseat a city councillor in this city is to give them a job at a higher level of government.
A four-year term, many have argued including Royson James in the Star, that this move further erodes local democracy. Dale Duncan over at the Eye blog echoes these arguments and we’d also like to point out the petition started out by the folks at Who Runs This Town about rolling back councillor terms back to three years.
Voter turnout at municipal elections are drastically lower than at other elections. There are other issues than just term-lengths, like amalgamation, the relatively little power that city councillors have vis a vis the province and the federal governments. But this recent change only makes this situation worse.