Scobie: The request is simple:  Restore these powers to the Council

By Staff

March 27th, 2024



Good Morning. I’m Gary Scobie and I appreciate the opportunity to delegate to Council on this important motion.

It is now obvious to me and many other citizens that we should have paid more attention to what was being offered to our Mayor and why.

Living in a democratic country, citizens often take democracy as a given, as something no one would or should take away from us or the people who represent us in government. When the Strong Mayor Powers were offered to many municipalities of mid-range populations in Ontario last summer, most citizens of Burlington put our trust in our local Council to weigh the pros and cons of accepting these powers.  We weren’t all sure what these powers entailed and when our Council unanimously approved the Strong Mayor Powers I think I speak for many citizens that we assumed the details had been competently vetted by all Council members and there was unanimous consent that they were useful to have in certain situations and not particularly dangerous to democracy and the rule of the majority.

Scobie: “This is the time to take a stand for democracy in our City”

It is now obvious to me and many other citizens that we should have paid more attention to what was being offered to our Mayor and why. The coverage at the time seemed to centre on the Provincial desire to speed up the building of homes in cities and towns.

It is now also obvious that this Council has experienced these Powers in action for seven months and that the majority of Council now has grave doubts as to the efficacy, effectiveness and use of some Powers. Three Councilors have brought a motion today to Council titled “Improving Local Democracy by Strengthening City Decision-Making”  with support from a fourth Councilor, thus a majority.

The details of the Powers that can be delegated back to Council by the Mayor are in the Motion. The request is simple:  Restore these powers to the Council as a whole in order to preserve total Council consideration of matters that should be under its jurisdiction, not concentrated in one person only, the Mayor of Burlington.  A dangerous precedent has been set in the broadness of the Strong Mayor Powers in a municipality.  Some of the Powers can be delegated by the Mayor back to the Council and Mayors in some of the other municipalities with these Powers have already done so, fearing the same over-step of democracy that can lead to dark places now and darker places in the future.  With democracy in many places and levels in Canada and the world under siege, this is the time to take a stand for democracy in our City and within our Province and country.  It is not the time to strengthen autocracy.

Our Council is at a fracture point, early in the second year of a four year term of office. This fracture cannot be allowed to become a total break.  It must be repaired carefully so that citizens can have confidence in our representatives going forward, and it must be done today.

I am here to show there is indeed citizen support for this motion and implore our elected representatives to debate this issue today and pass this motion unanimously. Once passed, I ask our Mayor to graciously agree to the restoration of the rights to Council for this term of office.  Anything short of that will only lead to a breakdown of faith in our Council by the citizens of Burlington.

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7 comments to Scobie: The request is simple:  Restore these powers to the Council

  • Blair Smith

    Questions that were posed of the first two delegates (Ms. Crosby and Mr. Scobie) by two of the Councillors (those who had not brought forward the motion under discussion) seemed to challenge the assertion that the Strong Mayor powers and the challenge that they posed to the democratic foundations of elected Councils in Ontario were of real concern to the citizens of Burlington. They questioned the delegates’ sources of information and their interpretation of public reaction.

    I would encourage any citizen who is concerned with the existence and/or use of Strong Mayor powers in Burlington or Ontario to sign the petition “Return Democracy To Burlington City Council”. A link is provided below.

    I addition to registering your concern, your signature provides visible support to Councillors Galbraith, Nisan, Stolte and Kearns in their motion to repatriate some of the Strong Mayor powers back to Council where they most properly belong.

    • Tom Muir

      We all know that power and subsequent control corrupts everything, thinking included, which is the worst of all, especially in those who have it. More power makes it worse.

      I want to know where these 2 Councilors got their information and it’s interpretation? How are you so smart to challenge a majority of your colleagues, and numerous citizens that were unanimous too.

      Your challenge with no intell, is just xxxxx xxxx talk to me. My source is just obvious in your own words.

      Edited for unacceptable language

  • Anne and Dave Marsden

    Gary clearly annunciated the position of all the delegates and letter writer members of the public. Councillor Kearns confirmed through a question put to every delegate their position that there was a need for an immediate response from the Mayor. Councillor Sharman seemed confused with regard to strong powers used and why our Mayor signs all bylaws.

  • Joe Gaetan

    Listening to the delegation of Gary Scobie it was not lost on the listener that his main purpose and that of all delegates was, they were there in support of democracy and not there to impugn the Mayor or any member of council.
    It s my understanding that the role of council, in dealing with a delegee is, to probe for greater understanding. It appears that councillor Sharman became unhinged during this delegation and rather than ask a question of Mr. Scobie, chose to utter the following, “So you are not aware that there are ZERO strong mayor decision since it was… last word unintelligible”.
    Mr. Scobie attempted to respond to councillor Sharman and was abruptly cut off with an insincere ”Thank You”.
    So much for “engagement”.

    • Anne and Dave Marsden

      The cut off was a repeat of a delegate being cut off when Sharman didn’t get the answers he wanted from a delegate that was previously picked up by Gazette. Seems like it is getting to be a habit.

  • Grahame

    I hope that Gary will run for office next election.

    • Gary Scobie

      I will take that as a compliment Grahame, but I do not have the energy, stamina nor patience that is required to be an elected representative. And I would rather see younger people come forward to run for Council. I would only raise the average age.

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