Should all Canadian provinces adopt recall legislation?

Thomas Bink
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford reacts during a special council meeting at City Hall in Toronto
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford reacts during a special council meeting at City Hall in Toronto November 18, 2013. REUTERS/Aaron Harris (CANADA - Tags: POLITICS)

Finally, a common-sense solution to the ongoing Rob Ford scandal.

On Wednesday, Ontario MPP Randy Hillier called on Premier Kathleen Wynne to support his private member's bill that will allow for the recall of provincial MPs — and could be amended to included municipal politicians — if voters decide they've had enough.

Currently, elected officials cannot be removed from office once they've been elected unless they've been charged with a criminal offence. That means Toronto Mayor Rob Ford could, theoretically, just sit in his office every day from now until election day doing nothing. Ditto for London's Joe Fontana and Brampton's Susan Fennell, both recently embroiled in scandal.

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Hillier's bill proposes to change that. According to the details of the proposal, a byelection would be held if at least 25 per cent of those who voted in the previous election agree to a recall.

"The controversy that's going on right now in Toronto gives us an opportunity to actually have a good and proper discourse about what mechanisms ought there be for people to deal with this," Hillier said Wednesday.

Only British Columbia has similar legislation. B.C.'s Recall and Initiative Act requires 40% of voters in a member's electoral district to approve a byelection. In 1998, B.C. MLA Paul Reitsma resigned his seat when it appeared a recall petition would be successful.

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This legislation makes sense not just for Ontario but for all Canadian provinces. Instead of a council or provincial government determining a misbehaving politician's fate based on ideology or partisanship, it would be the people who make the decision. It would force a new level accountability on elected officials, and they will be unable to ride out the remainder of a mandate as an ineffective bystander.

"If you're not performing to the expectation of the employer, you can be replaced," Hillier said. "And the employer doesn't have to wait four years to replace an underperforming employee."

So we ask you: Should every Canadian province adopt recall legislation?

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