That Petition: not much support for the Motion supported by a majority of Council members

By Pepper Parr

April 1st, 2024



The petition asking the Mayor to give up her Strong Mayor powers has yet to pick up any momentum.

These things take time – however time is the one thing the people behind the petition don’t have.

As of 10:00 am today there were just 127 signatures on the petition.

As of this morning there were just 127 signatures on the petition.

The objective is to have 1000 signatures by April 16th; the date by which the Mayor is committed to give her decision to Council.

For those who wish to sign the petition – the link is HERE

If the petition doesn’t get the response many had hoped for – bet the farm on the Mayor declaring that the general public doesn’t want what the four members of Council want whixh is getting the Mayor to relinquish the Strong Mayor powers she has.

In the meantime the Mayor is working every social media platform she has saying:

“I welcome any conversation about democracy, governance and how council can continue to work together in a collaborative and consultative way. I welcome Council to make any requests of me they feel are important, and support Council in making this request.

“That is why I voted in favour of the motion that was approved unanimously by Council today. I will take the time to give it the thoughtful consideration it deserves. Council has requested I respond by the April 16 Council meeting, which I will do. “

“It is truly unfortunate there has been misinformation, speculation, rumour and fear mongering out in the community. I will do my best to focus on the facts — what has changed and what hasn’t.”

There was a bit of an uptick over the holiday weekend.

With 15 days left the petition people need to add just shy of 60 new signatures each day.

It is certainly do-able – but it will be a challenge.

Mayor Meed Ward is not going to feel challenged with 1000 signatures; 5000 signatures and she might rethink the position she has taken.

The disturbing part at this point is what the four councillors who brought on the Motion asking the Mayor to relinquish some of the Strong Mayor powers have done since they actually managed to bring the Mayor to heel.

Not a word that we could find from any of them on social media.

The Mayor is out there arguing her case with the public.  The Council members are going to have to reach out to their constituents and make their case to them.

They clearly felt there was an issue (and there is) but they don’t seem prepared to fight publicly for what they want.

They won two rounds at Council.  The Mayor did everything she could to keep the item off the agenda.  She lost that fight.

Mayor Meed Ward did everything she could to avoid the Motion brought by members of City Council. At this point there are four members (a majority) that want the Mayor to relinquish the Strong Mayor powers she has.

Then when ward 6 Councillor Angelo Bentivegna moved that there by a Special meeting of Council; the Mayor who was opposed lost that vote as well.

Ward 4 Councillor Shawna Stolte, usually a mild mannered pussy cat – kept pushing the Mayor until she finally agreed that she would let Council know what she was prepared to do (if anything) on April 16th.

Council members pressed the Mayor for a sense as to what she wanted to do.  She bobbed and weaved doing everything she could until Councillor Shawna Stolte got her into a corner where she committed to giving Council an answer to their request that she relinquish her Strong Mayor Powers on April 16th.

That bought the Mayor some time during which she would do everything to convince the public that there was no need to give up the Strong Mayor powers.

The Motion that was moved had just three councillors behind it.  For procedural bylaw reasons there could only be three names on the document.  Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns made it very clear that she was in complete agreement with what her colleagues had done which was:

The citizens of the City of Burlington respectfully request Her Worship, Mayor Marianne Meed Ward, comply with the requests contained in Motion memo Improving Local Democracy by Strengthening City Decision-Making (ADM-05-24); specifically,

That the Mayor delegate to Council the powers and duties assigned to the head of council under Section 284.5 of the Municipal Act, with respect to the City Manager; and

That the Mayor delegate to the City Manager the powers and duties assigned to the head of council under the Municipal Act, with respect to:

        1. determining the organizational structure of the municipality; and
        2. hiring, dismissing, or exercising any other prescribed employment powers with respect to any division or the head of any other part of the organizational structure; and

That the Mayor delegate to Council the powers and duties assigned to the head of council under f the Municipal Act, with respect to prescribed local boards or local boards within a prescribed class of local boards; and

That the Mayor delegate to Council the powers and duties assigned to the head of council under the Municipal Act, with respect to prescribed committees or committees within a prescribed class of committees.

Councillor Stolte

Councillor Nisan

Councillor Galbraith

All the four Councillors have to do is bring in 15 signatures each of the 15 days between now and the 16th and the 1000 signature target will have been met.

The three members of Council are going to have to screw up their courage and be both bold and innovative in how they put some muscle behind the request they made of the Mayor.

Related news story:

Councillors have to deal with an insolent Mayor

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8 comments to That Petition: not much support for the Motion supported by a majority of Council members

  • Glenda Dodd

    Maybe some people actually agree with the mayor.

    • Blair Smith

      You’ve missed the point entirely. Whether or not you agree with the Mayor is irrelevant. The powers that she holds, however exercised, should not be vested in the hands of a single individual. Period.

  • Syd

    Plus how do we promote beyond immediate friends and Gazette readers? I hope few are signing because few are aware of it.

  • Blair Smith

    If the petition can not generate 1000 signatures by April 16th, then the citizens of Burlington (and Ontario) may not care enough about our fundamental freedoms and the principle of majority rule. Our Mayor, in my view and that of many, is now (perhaps with Ms. Horwath) the poster child of what is wrong with the Strong Mayor Powers. It matters not whether these powers are benevolently applied or with Council consultation, as Mr. Sharman contends. The fact that they exist and under the sole control of a single individual is just fundamentally wrong.

    The citizens of Burlington can certainly be motivated and engaged. But the issues that move them tend to be those of the wallet. The general dissatisfaction with the Mayor’s budget proves that. Issues of democratic freedoms and principles seem to be far less compelling and have much, much less news coverage and social media presence. The very successful petition against the Mayor’s unprecedented tax increase for 2024 was, in part, the result of an existential threat to peoples’ standard of living. It was a meat and potatoes issue and had Council ‘in toto’ conducting a defensive campaign to which the petition could directly respond. The issue of democratic freedoms is unfortunately less direct and less visceral for a largely affluent society. Pity because the long term impacts on all citizens are probably much more severe.

    I applaud the four members of Council for their courage and integrity in bringing the issue of Strong Mayor powers in Burlington into the open. They have forced the Mayor to respond and to demonstrate how horribly conceived and ill placed these powers are.

  • Anne and Dave Marsden

    It is still 127 for 0 against and you would never get 127 to delegate with no evening meetings.

  • Penny

    It is alarming how little residents know about what is happening in their city politically. What is more alarming is that most have no interest in what is happening around them.

    I can’t count the number of times I have asked people who their councillor is or what ward they live in only to be told they don’t know.

    10,000 signatures will make no difference. This mayor will only agree to the request of the majority of councillors if it will affect her chances in the next election. The question to ask is do you think she will run for reelection as Mayor or are her future plans at a higher level politically? This could perhaps account for her not willing to delegate any power to her councillors.

    The most interesting coalition is between the Mayor and Councillor Sharman. A few councils ago they could not stand each other. Here we are 2024 and as they say “The Enemy Of My Enemy Is My Friend”.

    I would suggest that the public attend the April 16th Council meeting. It is the best show in town.

  • Caren

    Editor: Can you please Post the Link to this Petition so that residents can find it.

    The link to sign the petition:

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