Following are a few of my thoughts on the movement to strong mayors in several Canadian provinces and why there might be concerns about mayors having the power to hire and fire senior municipal employees.
If mayors have the power to employ and dismiss senior employees, and to veto the will of the Council, there is a risk this power can be used to advance their own political agendas and employ persons who are not impartial. Rather than based on qualifications and abilities, the selection of the CAO and department heads by the mayor, and not by the council, can lead to a lack of diversity and inclusivity in the hiring process. Public trust in municipal government may be undermined. There is a risk, too, for lack of transparency in the hiring process, the appointment of political allies, and difficulty for citizens to hold their municipal governments accountable. When senior municipal employees are subject to frequent turnover due to changes in political leadership, instability in municipal government as well as a lack of continuity in policymaking and implementation can occur. An overall concern is that giving mayors power over the hiring and firing of senior municipal employees, will lead to political interference, lack of accountability, and instability in municipal government. It is important to have checks and balances in place towards ensuring municipal governments operate fairly and effectively.
What’s your view? Let’s have more public debate on the pros and cons of moving to a system of strong mayors in Canada’s municipal government