The four members of Council that oppose the use of Strong Mayor powers have more clout than they realize - STRIKE !

By Pepper Parr

April 4th, 2024



The conditions within which people work have changed.

Employers have to treat people with more dignity and respect and realize that they have lives outside of the office or the assembly line.

Covid brought about the demand for a better life/work balance.  That demand has changed the basic of the office rental business.

Members of unions have the right to strike and they strike.

Can politicians walk off the job if they don’t like the conditions they have to work within?

Let’s narrow that down to the municipal sector.

It is pretty clear that a majority of the current city council are not happy with the grip the Mayor is using on the Strong Mayor powers she has.

Ward 4 Councillor Shawn Stolte pressing Mayor Meed Ward for a statement.

Ward 1 Councillor Kelvin Galbraith – very uncomfortable but hanging in with his colleagues.

The majority of Council (Stolte, Galbraith, Nisan and Kearns) have been very public in about the way the Mayor has, in their view, cut them out of a lot of the process of making decisions at Council.

Mayor Meed Ward: To date her grip on the Strong Mayor powers has been tenacious.

One of the changes she has made is that she is chair of every meeting.  The Standing Committee meetings that were once separate events now take place within a Committee of the Whole (COW) which the Mayor Chairs.  She can alter the agenda (she call that Agenda Management) or she can override a position a member of Council members makes.

They are not happy about any of this.  The four (Stolte, Kearns, Galbraith and Nisan) are very firm in their position.  One of them, Rory Nisan is battling the Mayor on the front pages of the Hamilton Spectator while the Gazette and the Bay Observer ensure that the issue is front and center.

Ward 6 Councillor Angelo Bentivegna: Deeply concerned but not ready to take a stand.

Councillor Bentivegna is kind of on the fence with this and is undoubtedly under a lot of pressure from the Mayor and Councillor Sharman to keep him in their camp.  Tough days for Angelo – not quite what he expected when he first ran for office.

The Mayor has committed to her colleagues to giving them her thoughts on what she will keep in terms of the Strong Mayor powers and what she will delegate the City Council.

The Mayor has managed to maintain control of the narrative.  If those opposed to what the Mayor is doing want to use the power and the leverage they have they need to look at the union model – STRIKE!

At the beginning of every meeting of Council the Chair (always the Mayor these days) has to turn to the Clerk and ask that a Roll Call be done.  In order for the meeting their must be a quorum – which for Burlington is at least four of the seven members of Council.

No quorum – no meeting.

How would they make that happen?

Councillors attend meeting in person or virtually.  On the 16th the four should get up from their chairs when the Mayor and asks for a Roll Call.

Ward 3 Councillor Rory Nisan: taking the Mayor head on and battling her with media opinion pieces.

Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns – wanted her signature on the Motion – technicalities prevented that – but says she is all in.

At that point the four get up from their seat and stand behind their chairs.  When their name is called they say nothing.  The Clerk will probably call out their names several times.  The four remain mute.

If the Mayor decides their being at the Council table is enough and tells the Clerk to continue and then declares that there is a quorum the four should leave the horseshoe and sit in the public section of the Council Chamber.

That freezes the meeting.

The Mayor will have to scramble but at that point she has no power.

It will be a gong show – but Mayor Meed Ward will know that she has a crisis on her hands and that her council colleagues are “mad as hell and not going to take it anymore”.

Will the four take this kind of action – they don’t have the cajonies to do something like this.

The Mayor does and she will whip these puppies into shape in short order.

Welcome to Burlington the best mid-sized city in the country.


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5 comments to The four members of Council that oppose the use of Strong Mayor powers have more clout than they realize – STRIKE!

  • Stephen White

    Prudence, good grace and common sense would suggest that, in the face of mounting community dissatisfaction and Council opposition, that the Mayor would/should back down. A good politician knows how to read the tea leaves. The Mayor is not a political neophyte. Question is though: will she?

    What is also playing out in the background is mounting public anger and discontent with Ford’s government. I suspect the PC’s will get royally hammered in the two upcoming provincial by-elections in Lambton-Kent Middlesex and Milton on May 2nd. If it is anything like the recent debacle in Kitchener Centre (a third place finish and 12% of the popular vote) Doug’s days are likely numbered. Former Cabinet Minister and Milton MPP Parm Gill is no idiot, and clearly understands when it’s time to abandon a rapidly sinking ship.

    As Mayor you can’t accept the Strong Mayor Powers without, by inference, acquiescing to the policies, practices and programs endorsed by the PC government. It’s called “guilt by association”. And you can’t allege that you had no choice but to accept and use SMP when, in fact, other Mayors across the province (e.g. Barrie, Brantford, Chatham, Guelph, etc.) either delegated them or didn’t/haven’t used them.

  • Grahame

    Bentivegna is way out his depth in this job.

    • Anne and Dave Marsden

      Agree and always has been. There are those who like it this way.

    • Joe Gaetan

      Councillor Bentivegna was the only council member who drilled down on the Burlington Green request for $50k and voted against it while the Mayor and probably Sharman will see it becomes a permanent budget item. AB seems to want to drill down rather than shoot from the hip. Think tortoise and hare.

  • Blair Smith

    A question – to which I really do not know the answer. Does the Mayor need a quorum in order to exercise her Strong Mayor powers? I’m sure that you see where I’m going with this.