Canada’s lousy mayors

When municipal politics matter more than ever, why do so many cities end up with bad mayors?

 

'A depository for the truly mad'

O’Brien, Ottawa; McCallion, Mississauga; Robertson, Vancouver; Sean Kilpatrick/CP/ Vince Talotta/Toronto Star/ Jonathan Hayward/CP

 

In a sign of the season, in Ottawa this week, incumbent Mayor Larry O’Brien apologized for his first two years in office—a “complete disaster,” the mayor bluntly admitted. “I probably made every single major political mistake that was possible—I even made quite a few mistakes that, quite frankly, were impossible to replicate,” he continued. O’Brien couldn’t say whether he was Ottawa’s worst-ever mayor because, as he explained, he doesn’t know all of them. But the gaffe-prone mayor did want Ottawans to know how “sincerely sorry” he was for the way he’d run city hall.

What was remarkable was that this was not an exit speech, but a campaign speech. A year ago, the pugnacious ex-businessman was unsure voters would ever forgive him his bribery and influence-peddling charges. O’Brien was found not guilty, but the legal sideshow nevertheless garnered embarrassing headlines all over the country. Now, here he was again, having launched a re-election bid last month, complete with a recycled promise not to increase taxes. This notwithstanding the fact that taxes have jumped fully 14 per cent since he took office on a “zero-means-zero” tax increase pledge in 2006.

O’Brien does have competition. A record 20 Ottawans have paid $200 to run for mayor on Oct. 25, including O’Brien’s main contender: ex-MPP Jim Watson. But Watson, a former Ottawa mayor himself, has failed to excite Ottawans; although he’s leading in the polls, the race is such a dog’s breakfast that a disgraced mayor no one thought would show his face now stands a fighting chance come Oct. 25.

It’s a similarly uninspiring race in Calgary, where the city heads to the polls on Oct. 18. The mysterious businessman who fled Kenya to avoid corruption charges has dropped out, true, as has the urban chicken advocate. That leaves 15 candidates, including Ric McIver, the front-runner, and a fiscal hawk and self-described “economic refugee” from David Peterson’s Ontario in the ’80s. Those who know McIver know he has his own eccentricities: dubbed “Calgary’s Rob Ford,” he once refused to support a motion to open a line of credit, putting the city close to bankruptcy; outgoing Mayor Dave Bronconnier called him “Dr. No.”
The real Rob Ford, of course, gunning for the mayorship of Toronto on Oct. 25, has dominated the conversation in that city’s campaign: his decade-old DUI, his views on same-sex marriage and “Orientals,” a dismissed domestic-assault charge, an ejection from a Leafs’ game for public drunkenness: the list goes on, eclipsing serious debate on the future direction of the city, which is deeply in deficit.

In suburban Mississauga, Ont., meanwhile, “Hurricane” Hazel McCallion, who last month announced her intention to seek a 12th term as mayor on Oct. 25, while calling for “change,” has stared down her own share of controversy this year, with allegations of conflict of interest stemming from a development deal involving her son Peter. McCallion, who turns 90 next year and once complained her local ER was “loaded with people in their native costumes,” has again refused to run a campaign: no platform, no literature, no signs, no apparent road map for what promises to be a challenging term in office. After 30 years of hurtling growth, Mississauga’s vaunted debt-free status could be ended by 2012, when the city expects to tip into the red. There is little available land left to turn into a mall or a new housing development, and much of the city’s infrastructure is in need of repair. “We’ve asked Hazel for a debate, but she’s refused,” says mayoral hopeful Ram Selvarajah.

Municipal politics in Canada, comedian Rick Mercer one said, is a “depository for the truly mad.” Silly season, it seems, is upon us once again, as a stable of irascible populists, blowhards and eccentrics vie this month for the keys to some of Canada’s biggest cities. Voters, meanwhile, swamped with candidate lists, unsure of who stands for what—let alone the ins and outs of every candidate’s stance on the issues—too often simply choose to tune out. Just 39 per cent of eligible voters cast a ballot in Toronto in 2006; in 2004, only 19.8 per cent of Calgarians bothered.

And who can blame voters? In London, Ont., incumbent Anne Marie DeCicco-Best—who once attempted to brand her city “All mixed up,” a slogan designed to showcase its cultural diversity—is again leading former MP Joe Fontana. After losing badly in the last election, Fontana said: “There is a benefit in not winning and that is because I am going to cancel my subscription to the London Free Press. I debated the Free Press more than the mayor.”

Or consider Amherstburg, Ont.’s mayor, Wayne Hurst. His re-election platform includes a pledge for a downtown public marina, but he refuses to divulge how it will be financed. “I don’t need to tell you how I’m going to pay for it,” says Hurst, who’s seeking a fourth term. “It’s my vision. I have a vision and I see it taking place in downtown Amherstburg.” A nice vision it may be, but it’s an odd one, considering Amherstburg couldn’t afford the marina it owned: months ago, it closed on the sale of the municipally owned Ranta Marina for $584,000, following years of controversy.

Against this backdrop of candidates—whose fitness for office you “really have scratch your head and wonder about,” says Myer Siemiatycki, an expert on municipal politics at Ryerson University—experts have begun quietly pushing for the introduction of political parties in Canada’s municipal arena, as in Vancouver. The deceptively simple reform could help voters determine who and what they are voting for; it would also go a long way to sidelining the inept, and injecting professionalism and organization into the unruly field. “The bottom line is parties are active gatekeepers in terms of who’s going to be able to get a nomination,” says Siemiatycki. Otherwise, the municipal arena has a tendency to turn into a free-for-all.

Rather than encouraging mature conversations and debates, crowded mayoral fields force candidates to out-shout their opponents, says Siemiatycki, noting Toronto mayoral candidate Rocco Rossi’s Mafia-themed campaign posters, designed to grab attention, he says, and little else. “When people walk into the ballot box they see nothing but a long list of names,” says Kennedy Stewart, a professor at Simon Fraser University’s school of public policy. Voters, he says, need help sorting through the “lists and lists and lists.” The party is a shorthand for the ideas and policies a candidate represents.

The problem is twofold, says Siemiatycki: “Because elections aren’t voter-friendly, we have very low voter turnout.” And even once the election is over, the system hardly encourages an effective or efficient council. It’s tricky to work out consistent alliances to push policies through council. Rather, says SFU municipal expert Patrick Smith, you have a “whole bunch of loose fish wandering around” cobbling together coalitions—or not. With a party system, mayors can whip their caucus into line, weakening narrow turf wars. Without it, that “how-does-this-affect-my-ward?” mindset, says Winnipeg councillor Jenny Gerbasi, can make it next to impossible to get mega-projects off the ground. “Council,” she says, “can lose sight of the bigger picture.”

Canada’s cities inherited the non-partisan civic tradition from 1890s America. The U.S. was then trying to eradicate corruption from local government. By the 1960s, many U.S. municipalities had abandoned the no-party model. Tokyo, Stockholm, Rome, Berlin and London, too, have parties. Canada, though, never bothered to revert back. The exceptions are Montreal and Vancouver. Both have party systems. In Vancouver’s last election in 2008, two bike-friendly local businessmen—one representing the Non-Partisan Association, the party on the centre-right, the other representing Vision Vancouver, the city’s centre-left choice—faced off. There were no cartoonish ad campaigns, no talk of strategic voting. Vancouver has no problem with entrenched incumbency: the city’s longest-serving councillor was first elected to the 10-person body eight years ago. Of Toronto’s 44 councillors, 14 have been there for 20 or more years. In Calgary, 86 per cent of incumbents were returned to office in the 2004 election, and 71 per cent in 2007.

Parties encourage accountability. If voters don’t think they’re going in the right direction, they can throw the bums out—as Vancouver voters did in 2008, returning an almost entirely fresh slate: Mayor Gregor Robertson’s Vision team. On the nuts-and-bolts level, parties also provide organizational structure: maintaining membership lists, identifying the vote, canvassing, and getting out the vote on election day.

Siemiatycki says cities have grown “way too big,” and the issues “far too significant,” to be left to the vagaries of individual candidates running on their own reputation and name recognition. Canada is among the world’s most “hyper-urbanized” countries, he adds: some 80 per cent of us live in cities, and one in three live in the urban areas of Toronto-Montreal-Vancouver—well above the concentration of big cities in the U.S., China or Britain. The sheer concentration of people translates to huge sums of money. Ottawa’s operating budget is $2.5 billion. Toronto’s tips $9 billion. Some voters, says Smith, may want to cut it to $8 billion, and lower their taxes; others may want to increase it to $10 billion. These, he says, are “ordinary, mature debates that should go on in a democracy.”

Ottawa’s O’Brien has admitted to Maclean’s he should “probably have had five years’ experience in municipal government before running for mayor.” But O’Brien’s mistake wasn’t his alone. Supports available to federal and provincial politicians—party research staff, the organization of government, with allies lined up behind their leader—are unavailable to municipal politicians, putting neophytes like O’Brien at a real disadvantage. While we all enjoy the spectacle of Rosie the Clown taking the stage on election night—or “Bubbles,” the cat-loving candidate with Coke-bottle glasses and an iPod full of Rush tunes, who is currently running for mayor of Orillia, Ont.—in this global age of cities, and in this hyper-urban country, the joke’s on us.




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Canada’s lousy mayors

  1. Quebec City has parties too, although now Labeaume's almost has a monopoly.

  2. Bring parties in. It would increase voter turnout and lesson the herding-cats nature of running municipal government.

    • It won't, just wait to see when the province starts to play politics with the cities and benefit with funding some cities that belong to the same political party in order to keep them and keep out of funding the one that belong to the opposition in order to win the next elections.

  3. I have to agree with this article. I mean, how can one possibly pick a representative if there is a whole list of choices. Surely we must all admit that the problem with our municipal democracies is that our candidates do not come with helpful colour-codes that spare us the indecency of having to investigate their personalities, promises, and platforms, and allow us, instead, to hold continuous referenda on our federal party leaders, comfortable and content in our knowledge that there are no more than three and a half distinct indistinguishable positions to take on all issues in english-speaking Canada.

    An election without parties is like watching a sports event without the athletes draped in gaudy manifestations of nationalistic inferiority complexes. One doesn't know if he is owning the podium or has simply doled out his paycheque to witness professional gym class.

    In Canada, we like our candidates to come in square shapes and solid colours. And we want never, ever, to have to read the manual.

    • Any politican that comes in square shapes and solid colors will become part of the problem. As we have to create a means to compete in a Global economy. With 78% of all working canadians now surviving from pay cheque to pay cheque. that means we are in a lot of trouble. I started in college taking over other people's messes. Spent all my life being parachuted into things I knew nothing or little about. Yet, always had the ability to use innovation and team work to create something that stimulated change. .Spent 40 years with the same three rules including the job I hold now. We have no money to do the job, I had no authority to do anything and the experts had already walked away. I am now running for Mayor of Ottawa and bring to the job 10yr experience doing the same task as a mayor. That required me to get theb Ontario Investment rules changed and once changed required negotiating with the community of Ottawa over 10 years to support 50 projects that they believed was someone elses responsiblity. This election like no other in Ottawa and Canada as nothing to do with politics, but everything to do with the ability to survive in a Global economy.

      • Your slogan, "One individual can make a difference, but it takes a TEAM effort to make it Happen!", is self-contradicting. Consider revising.

        How about, "Sustainability through Innovation"?

        • I don't know the candidate (nor live in Ottawa) but the slogan makes perfect sense to me. I should remember it myself. Judging by this article, it sounds as though local politicians should keep it in mind, as well.

          That said, I fear the 'professionalism' that stable political parties bring to city politics, and would miss the quirky individualism that pervades the system now. A lot of successful city mayors have been all the better for eschewing rigid party ties; some Montrealers may remember Peter Yeomans of Dorval, who was colourful but very competent and proper. Like many politicians in Montreal's suburbs (and former suburbs, before they were obliterated by the Montreal 'professionals'), he campaigned with a slate of like-minded candidates for council, but in many suburbs councillors elected from different slates tended to co-operate reasonably well.

  4. Hazel McCallion is Canada's greatest mayor ever!

    • She is so out of touch with the needs of Mississaugans – not just last generation but the one before. She came into power when Jimmy Carter was president of US!!! Mississauga is a city without an identity – except for having voted in (by only 25% of the population) a near century old mayor. How sad is that ?
      This time around she is finally having to go to those parts of Mississauga that she always wished into the shadows, this time she is having to meet all those "people in native costumes" and pretend that she likes them. This time around she has realised that Mississauga is no longer in the 1970s… welcome to the 21st Century.
      It is hard for brainswashed, numbed Mississaugans, run ragged by long, mindless commutes out of the city, non-existent community life and isolation to realise that they can vote for a different life. A life that gives them choice. And therefore she continues to rule, putting her baby boy first….unless Mississaugans WAKE UP!!! GO VOTE ON Oct25th.

    • Hazel McCallion is dupping the galible people who do not have the time to investigate the details of how unlawfully the City runs its affairs or what are the details of the Conflicts of Interest before the Mississauga Public Inquiry. You wouldn't elect a prime minister with Hazel McCallion's records, why to elect a mayor like her?

  5. If you really want the goods on Hazel McCallion check out these and see how bad, bad can be.
    mayor-of-mississauga.com
    YouTube – watcher0I0
    the-democratic-reporter.com/PERSONS_D-R/Hazel_McCallion_-_Mayor_of_Mississauga
    The truth is HERE[youtube 2_J2R4ie5Zw http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2_J2R4ie5Zw youtube]

    • What Watcher doesn't do is identify himself as one of the candidates for Mayor of Mississauga. His website is full of half-truths and accusations bordering, in some minds, as slander vs McCallion, even going as fas as to denigrate her for her attire, calling her a clown. He has been removed from the Mississauga inquiry for attempting to videotape it despite being told explicity that it was prohibited, and also refused to participate in a Mayoral debate because he was not allowed to video it. In protest, he filed a complaint with the CRTC. He has been forcibly removed from City Hall, and has been accused of assult a Corporate Security officer.

  6. I have some slight quibbles with this article.

    While i can agree some sort of change to municipal politics would be desired i'm not so sure that parties are it. Federally we have 4 parties in parliament, and another one constantly teetering on the edge of getting in… and yet i can't stand any of them.

    I also have no qualms with councillors constantly asking the question: "how will this affect my ward?", heck that's what they ought to be doing (the big picture is also beneficial to the ward, so this should not be a detractor from such visions).

    Mostly i think what's needed is raising the profile of nontoronto municipal elections in the media (not that toronto isn't important, it's just that it actually seems to get coverage already while other cities you really have to go digging to find anyone writing about it). Bring attention to what's at stake, make people care, and draw attention to the candidates positions on those issues. Heck throw up some horserace polls so people can get some impression of which candidates are gelling decent levels of support and which are basically a throwaway vote.

    • As someone who just moved to Ottawa from Vancouver, I'm blown away at the reluctance of Ontarians to embrace civic party politics.

      People, you have the most dysfunctional city council in Canada, and you have absolutely NO way to vote to ensure that the one you get next will be any better. Why? Because all you're voting for is a lone voice in a sea of people who may not support his or her platform. And if council under-performs, you have no way to punish them, because lone councilors just pass the buck.

      Over in Vancouver, we voted in a council on a mandate, we had an opposition to hold their feet to the fire, and if we weren't happy, we threw 'em out.

      Parties give you accountability the way a non-party system never will.

      What does it take for you people to realize that maybe Ontario show follow another province for once?

  7. Why is it that the main issue that mayoral candidates in cities around Canada discuss is LRT?

  8. My name is Jane Scharf I am one of the invisible candidates for mayor of Ottawa 2010. We are having problems with the media here especially the CBC. I was arrested Oct 8 on instruction of the CBC for protesting my exclusion from the all candidates' debate. Details in the Ottawa Citizen are pretty accurate. I have filled a human rights complaint against the CBC on Oct 10 for inequitable coverage of my campaign. During the last election I was invited to a televised CBC debate but then I was not asked any questions. When I asked to answer one of the questions I was threatened with security and police because I would not be quiet and sit down when ordered to do so. They said you knew the rules. and I said I was asked to come here and hang out and you would ask me a question when and if you felt like it. I was told this would be a fair debate. Other media and the public polls are also interfering with the elections. You do not have to go to a third world country to see the media fix the elections we have our homegrown media interference here in Ottawa.

  9. When less than 20% of the eligible voters participate in Mississauga it means that 80% of voters do not have a candidate of their choice to feel compel to vote. The Ontario government, in this case, is not acting on these numbers as it should to ensure the functioning of our democracy. The results, speak for themselves! Year after year. And, the winner claims majority representation! What a hoax.

  10. Why ex-cons and those who have been found guilty of law breaking for conflicts of interest, in a court of law , are not banned by the provinces from runing for a municipal public office?

  11. The lowest level of accountability is at the municipal level. It takes very few well organized politicos to 'take a city'. But if you think it's bad now, just wait. The left has figured it out here in Vancouver and are running amok with the public purse. But junior gangsters figured it out at the college level ( check out Kwantlen Univ-College 3 years ago) and they are just in training for the real dough – the cities. Just give 'em a few years.
    Clearly our archaic democratic system can't keep up with modern communications and the political machinations extracted therefrom – and the uninformed and unconnected populace is getting flimflammed.

  12. Hurst the incumbent mayor of Amherstburg has a vision to put in a marina nearer to the downtown core…….wonder if he has cooked up a deal with one of the business' that already sports a marina in that area. The rural section of the Amhersburg municipality HAS been neglected for the most part since he took office from the last campaigne. Most of the federal grant money was allocated for the urban areas of Amhersturg. The McGregor Library that is being funded on the farthest outreaches of Amherstburg is actually being built on the edge of the Town of Essex, and I believe that the River Canard Bridge falls under the Town of LaSalle.
    It is time to put someone else in charge for a change, and Mr. Fryer is suing the contractor not the Town of Amherstburg for his injuries.

    • Wrong Mr. Fryer is suing the contractor(s) and the town of Amherstburg! Also Fryer has been on council since the last election. Only recently has he been voting against spending any money, except for his own road, which I understand will be the next big project. He does not represent my interests and I live in the former Anderdon. He represents his own interests and those 50 families who had their toys at the marina!

      • You should look into what you say before you say it, because it would make you a little more credible,
        All town council minutes and votes are available online. If you did some real research you would
        know Mr. Fryer has always voted in a fiscal manner. He voted against the sale of Ranta because it was wrong. What if it was your grandfather who had donated that land, and the town decided after he died they would give it away to a developer.
        I challenge you to back up what you say with some facts with dates.

        • FACT – Total deficit of the marina $985,398.

          If my grandfather donated land that was losing a significant amount of money for the town, I sure hope they would sell it.

          • Show me the debt on paper. You can't because it doesn't exsist. The arena loses over $300,000 every year, should we sell that to. And what about Navy Yard park that has not made a nickel in 25 years should we sell that to? Or how about the library, it's never made a dollar either. You must be Wayne or Rosa.

          • Your Grandfather would be ashamed of you Wayne.

          • Then you had better get ready to sell your shiny new twin arena. When you see the deficit it will generate, it won't take long to sell it.

          • If you guys can't see the difference between a marina compared to an arena, Navy Yard Park and a library it's not worth discussing… With that thinking you guys must think that Amherstburg should run a car garage for local sports car owners too…owning and running a marina just doesn't makes sense for the WHOLE community… it does make sense for a town to own an arena, Navy Yard Park and a library.

    • Hey Fryer: Law requires you to sign your name when you reply to a post. It's called disclosure, which is something most politicians have never heard of.

      So Amherstburg has two nuts frontrunning the race. I feel sorry for their residents.

      • With a name like Mr. Adams the third, I wonder who is blowing smoke up their own ass.
        Mr. Fryer is in North Bay recovering the body of his sister and does not have the time currently
        to blog with un informed people like yourself.
        By the way why arn't you commenting on Mr.Hurst's blog response? Didn't you know the LAW requires
        you to be impartial until you have all the facts?

    • there is no deal with any downton business for a marina … Rick Fryer is spreading lies to make Mayor Hurst look bad , I moved to Amherstburg because of the growth and standard of living, great parks, many businesses that employee a great number of town people, international events, ect….. Amherstburg is a great town and doesn't deserve to be on any worst in Canada regardless of what it is ….

      • Jim,
        The McLean's reporter was simply referring to Hurst, not the Town of Amherstburg.
        There IS a deal in "play" with a downtown business for Hurst's marina vision that he claims he doesn't have to disclose how he will pay for – it was front page news in The Windsor Star a week or so ago.
        THAT IS THE PREMISE FOR THE McLEAN'S STORY JIM.
        Rick Fryer is not spreading any lies about anybody and if you read the McLean's story, you will surely note that Rick was not quoted or referred to in any fashion.
        Glad you enjoy your new standard of living – now get ready to pay for it!
        GB

  13. I think they forgot to go to Windsor this year

    • Right. How could they not include Eddie Francis?, the highest paid Ont mayor of the city with the highest unemployment! When initially elected he promised only 2 terms and now he's going for 3. He is too arrogant, has bumbled too many deals, too many closed door meetings – the good jobs keep disappearing and he keeps publicizing new min wage, part time call centre jobs. He takes care of his senior admin managers (15% raises in 2009), but squashes the workers. So SAD what has become of Windsor under his mis-management. His time is up.

      • Here, Here. By far the worst mayor in Canada. Kawmee Francis needs to shown the door. We Windsorites are tired of his act. His reelection platform should be " another term of smoke and mirrors"

  14. He wasn't running for mayor, he was running for the position he has, and has done quite well, while racing and playing with the kids.

  15. Here's what happened when Rob Ford was mentioned at a Thanksgiving day dinner in Toronto. You can also vote on whether Rob Ford ruined your Turkey dinner. So far 70 % of the voters say their dinner was ruined by Rob Ford: https://robfordturkey.wordpress.com/

    • Are you seriously blaming Rob Ford for the fact that a friend of yours decided to discuss him at dinner? That's insane. Now if he had repeatedly called your phone number during the dinner hour – as the George Smitherman team did – then you'd have something to really complain about. Go, Rob Ford!

      • You are missing the point – Rob Ford is a divisive figure who will destroy the harmony in which our diverse city lives now – like he did at my turkey dinner. You really need to look at what this guy will actually do and the damage that will cause.

        • So, you're saying that Rob Ford is divisive and Smitherman is … what exactly? Inclusive? Collaborative? Cooperative? Congenial? Fair? Forthright? Honest? Trustworthy?

          Hmm, I seem to remember a time where Smitherman was generally labelled as McGuinty's pitbull (when he wasn't being called a bully). Such a warm, feely moniker. Makes me feel so safe and trusting. As I'm sure David Caplan felt, just before he got hung up to dry for Mr. Smitherman's handiwork.

          What short memories we have. What big teeth Mr. Smitherman has. The better to … bring us 'harmony'?

          But that's OK. As long as he's not 'divisive'.

          • sure, so you want Ford?

          • I wouldn't say that I "want" any of the candidates that have been running for mayor. However, given the choices that we had to work with I would happily vote for Ford as the best of a less than stellar lot.

            Smitherman has a track record of bullying, corruption and incompetence – in the billions of dollars range. His record speaks for itself – I have literally no idea why Toronto is being so blind.

            Rossi was a Liberal backroom dealer, almost solely responsible for the parachuting in of Michael Ignatieff, who never met a democratic process he couldn't break, bypass or undercut.

            Pantalone *may* be a decent guy, but he has no platform or ideas of his own, and is blindly following the Miller plans – which were deeply divisive, and deeply destructive, of the City as a whole, and which left everyone outside of the downtown core out in the cold.

            I originally supported Thompson – I thought she had some really good ideas. But she didn't have any real chance of winning. Plus, after observation in the debates and personally I found her to be quite defensive and argumentative, despite campaigning as someone who is 'inclusive'.

          • Ford is not 'pretty', but he has a proven track record of walking his talk, and he appears to be using the engineering principle of promising far *less* than you can deliver. His City Council integrity scandals were 1) not spending his office budget (?!?), and 2) using his Council letterhead to solicit/thank donations – in the range of two thousand $ !?! – to his charity which assists at risk youth that he himself coaches.

            So upon reflection the answer to your question is "yes". At this point in the campaign I "want" Ford.

        • Rob Ford's brother is working with and for him. George Smitherman's brother is running for City Council and is campaigning… wait for it … wait for it … for Rob Ford.

          So tell me again. Who exactly is the divisive figure?

          • Ford – he's the guy who is anti immigrant, gay, council worker – you name it. Our city deserves better – you might not like Smitherman but get over Ford.

          • And George, on the other hand, never met an immigrant, gay, or council worker he didn't like – as long as s/he has a good pocket to pick or influence to peddle…

            For the record Ford is not a racist. I know of a number of 'visible minorities' – Canadian born and immigrant both – who are voting for him. One of them my husband. What you are responding to, sir, is a good old fashioned smear campaign.

            I find it fascinating that those – OK sorry I have to say it – who want to appear upperclass are so frightened by someone who appears rough around the edges (even though Ford actually comes from wealth) that they will vote in the devil himself to avoid being associated with people of "that type". That, and most of them have no problem making prejudicial, demeaning remarks about Mr. Ford's weight. Funny that the ones screaming loudest that Ford is predjudiced against race (which he isn't) have no problem being prejudiced against weight or 'lack of refinement'. I suggest you get over yourself..

  16. This article is not accurate. If it were Eddie Francis from Windsor would be the worst mayor in North America hands down. How can this magazine say Windsor is the worst run city and not have the worst mayor?

    • Absolutely agreed! Eddie Francis is the worst mayor I've seen in Windsor in the 50 yrs. I've lived here.

      • I like Eddie. I think he has done a wonderful job in spite of the challenging circumstances.

        • Mcleans forgot to visit Windsor Ontario.Eddie Francis our mayor is the worst mayor in all of Canada

  17. "Trippin Rick" is a Liberal backed puppet, PERIOD!
    He can't even take responsability for his own negligence.
    He filed a frivolous lawsuit against the very town he wishes/dreams of being mayor, LOL…
    Ask his former co-workers at Ford what they think of him. Can you say "JOKE"!

    • You never say anything constructive, you just blow hot air.
      If you spent your time researching facts it would make you sound
      less like a 7 year old.

      • The "FACT" is; "Trippin Rick" is a scamming "Snake", PERIOD!
        Obviously his only reason for entering this election is self serving, not Amherstburg's.
        Don't worry, Ford's insurance Fraud Squad is watching!
        And for your info, even a 7 year old knows how to spot a liberal, lol…

        • Mr Fryer is not on Compensation because his injury is not work related GENIUS.
          You never offer any constructive thoughts, just insults.

          • Never said he was on Comp!
            He is on LTD!
            He is a "Scammer" no matter how you cut it, PERIOD!
            Get your facts straight you liberal lov"n GOOF!
            If you think he even has a chance at getting 1/2 the votes I have a bridge to sell you, lol…
            Amherstburg doesn't need another Susan W, Remo M, or Tony D.

  18. Windsor's Mayor Eddie Francis hates unions and hes the wort mayer in the province

    • He took the bull by the horns, CUPE, and let them know that the taxpayers had had enough of being held hostage by their antics. Do you remember the garbage fiasco, the old man with diabetes dropping off his garbage. CUPE tried to show windsorites and windsorites said enough was enough.
      As far as limoges is concerned he is an ex-banker, we saw what damage bankers can do.

      • it was a sad day in Windsor on Oct 25 for all the unemployed in the city when Francis got back in .this mayor has done nothing to bring jobs to this community.He fights with everyone in the city and has split the city into two.So many people have had to move away in the last 7 years to find stable employment and that trend will continue for the next 4.Our local newspaper the Windsor Star is under investigation by the ontario Press council for a conflict of interest with Eddie Francis.The local paper played a big role in helping convince the sheep in Windsor to vote Edgar back in for another 4 years.This mayor has to be the most corrupt mayor the city of Windsor has ever seen so many back room deals,closed door meetings.he is also the highest paided mayor in Ontario he makes About 180Ks a year to sit on his butt and do nothing.He makes more then the mayor of Toronto.If you are looking for a place to move to don't come here to Windsor.we are the unemployment capital of canada

  19. So, your contention is that some of our Mayors are "lousy." A safe enough pronouncement I suppose. But then you go about tarnishing the reputations of some individuals by referring to them in the same article, but without specifically saying that they are amoung the "lousy." Good journalism, NOT.____Where is your published formula for determining what makes a good Mayor? And where is your ranking of Canada's Mayors?__

  20. Shame on Maclean's lousy writer for being lazy and going to the first Town alphabetically on the list and picking up recent media trash. Shame she could not get the history of accomplishmets and the real facts on Mayor Hurst. This Town under Mayor Hurst has been more successful than any in Southern Ontario. Hope he sues.

    • I think you must be related to Wayne because everyone knows about the tax money Wayne took for his fountian.$18428.19
      Mr.Hurst has embarassed our town numerous times over the last 4 years, and has put us in the deepest debt in our history. THAT"S JUST GREAT!

      • Ya, it was real embarrassing when Mayor Hurst help secure the largest CAF grant in Canada…It's also embarrassing to see the impressive, well needed recreational complex being built (town only paying a 1/4 of the cost). Also, half of the debt is from a sewage treatment plant that was MANDATED. What do you want our Mayor and council to do??? Sit on their hands for 4 years, while Amherstburg crumbles around them. This council FINALLY got things done and all people do is complain.

        And YES taxpayer money was used to cover the cost of a fountain that the town owns, and YES Mayor hurst said he would fundraise the full amount, which is why fundraising is still ongoing, with $8,000 left. I much rather pay $8,000 for a $70,000 asset for the town, then pay Mr Fryer $800,000 because he can't see where he's walking.

        What is embarrassing is that Rick Fryer, a bumbling, tumbling nitwit could be Amherstburg's next mayor, and sloppy journalism like this doesn't help.

        • The credit for securring grants in Amherstburg goes to the very able CAO – Pam Mallott, not Hirst – he was too busy wining and dining certain arena construction contractors at his favourite downtown "marina bar".
          "Look at Amherstburg Now" – Yes just look at it – $50,000,000. (FIFTY MILLION DOLLARS) in debt and loss of every major Industrial Tax Payer except Diageo. Show us the leadership – the development generating tax replacement initiatives. Unfortunately, there are none from a Mayor who does not even pay property taxes.
          Hundreds and hundreds of Amherstburg families who proudly display "Vote Rick Fryer for Mayor" signs throughout all areas of the community.
          Hirst is on a spending spree including "his" fountain, "his" downtown marina and Lord only knows whatever expensive visions that are exclusive only to "himself". And his Lordship tells a Windsor Star reporter that he does not have to disclose how "he" is going to pay for "his" visions.

  21. Your important point is often overlooked by those claiming Ford is racist: that he was, in fact, showing how the "Oriental" (now more preferably "Asian") work ethic has allowed that culture to rise higher and higher. No kidding! Compare any Asian culture from India to China against the whiny workforce that has been on this continent for 200 years, and you can instantly see why that continent is an economic powerhouse and the USA is declining. In this country the immigrants from Asia built the railways out West, and worked in the mines, and were unfortunately treated like dogs, without concern for their health or safety. Fortunately, they kept working and saving, bought land and retail stores, and sent the next generations to university. I admire that, and so does Rob Ford.

  22. Hey "Bob" – Get your facts straight!

    • Bob and the other 2 can't get their facts straight because of what they are smoking. It must be Wayne himself, Rosa,
      John Sutton, Bob Bailey, Pam Mallot or the River town times who are posting the stupid comments.

  23. Congrats Mayor Hurst on having the courage and vision to have taken Amherstburg out of the good old boys small politics and transformed this town to what most towns throughout Ontario would like to be. It's a compliment to be named in MacLeans. I wonder who woke up MacLeans with the marina story. Maybe MacLeans would like to see Fryer win. What a story they could print then. "Amherstburg residents vote in mayor and wins lawsuit for his troubles" Watch what you wish
    for because you just might get it. It would be a nightmare and put Amherstburg back 20 years. There are always those few that would actually enjoy it!!!!!!!

    • Wayne Hurst will never get prostrate cancer because you will see it first!

    • Are you happy you will have the highest combined taxes in Essex County next year?
      Are you happy Wayne Hurst is being investigated for the alleged Fountain money he took?
      Are you happy that Maclean's millions of readers now see that Mayor Hurst is a Joke?
      I could go on but I doubt you even care about reality in Amherstburg.

      • "Reality in Amherstburg" That is a good one. If you really cared about Amherstburg you would see that all this crap about the marina and the fountain is generated by a group of negative people that are basing all the negativity about
        Hurst as a personal attack. No I'm not Wayne, Rosa or a relative but a life long Amherstburg resident who cares
        about the future of this town. Take the time to talk to people who have moved here over the last few years and see if they agree with your comments. If by chance Fryer is our next Mayor he's got it made because he will definitely take all the credit for everything that this past council has done (minus him). He'll take credit when the debt gets paid down which will happen through plans already in action and he won't have to do anything because he can blame the
        debt for everything. He'll be in a win win situation. Sad thing is the Town will lose. Oh Yeh! Just to let you know. I have never voted for Hurst. That is until this year.

        • Respectfully, which "plans already in action" are you referring to?
          The "plan" to buy a waterfront business for a city marina? (as per the McLean's story)
          This vision is just another overpriced parking lot purchase but this wet one is for all the boating tourists that are going to flock to downtown Amherstburg and leave their .99 US dollars.
          Are those Border Patrol agents still on the horizon?
          Then we will all see our $50,000,000 debt paid off by all the taxpaying merchants and eateries that will now expand and grow in mega fashion and hire hundreds, perhaps thousands of workers in this "planned" effort.
          As a life long resident of Amherstburg, you must be aware that arenas do not make money – so that being said, keep an eye on the future taxpayer costs for the new twin pad arena yet to be paid for and operating.
          It's great to have "all" the bells and whistles but only if one can truly afford them.
          As an Amherstburg tax paying resident, visit the Municipal offices and ask for; a printout of our grossly eroded industrial tax base and the current balance in our "Reserves Account".

        • I am a life long resident and I am not weak enough to fall for the negative people arguement. Hurst and Bailey use this anytime someone disagrees with the way they do things. If no one disagreed, then they could do what they wanted with our taxdollars. So I am thankful for those "negative" people because they do their research and keep our mayor and council honest..

  24. You judge the candidate on their record not personal issues. Go to the Town website and you can see who has voted which way. Wayne Hurst was quoted 12 times over 2008 that no tax money would be used in his fountain project. He took $18,428.19 of tax money and didn't ask for it. If Mr. Fryer's lawsuit were to go through and he won, it would not effect your taxes one bit because the town has insurance policies that are in place to take care of these issues. Just remember Gord Freeman and Remo Mancini, they also sued the town and it never changed your taxes one bit. The $18,428.19 Mr. Hurst took did though.

    • Not too bright a comment. 'Wake up Amherstburg'- who do you think pays the hundreds of thousands for the insurance premiums? If you paid attention you would know these premiums increased more than 20% this year alone- Thanks Mr. Fryer. Mr. Fryer did not seem too disabled vacationing in Florida and doing bike marathons. His other employer that he is scamming (Ford) hasn't caught on …….yet. And fountain? What planet do you live on? The fountain I know is a jewel of the Town Centre and the pride of Amherstburg and the envy of every Town within 500 miles. I can send you a picture if you like.

      • You are humerous. The premiums went up for all municipalities, it had nothing to do with Risk's lawsuit.
        It would be nice if some of you Hurst relatives would talk about the real issues like Hurst being a thief.
        So it's ok that he stole the money for his fountain? I can send you a copy of the motion that the Amherstburg Police are looking at if you like.

        • Hey "wake up" you should smell the coffee…lol
          Good thing you don't post your name, especially when making slanderous personal comments.
          Get the facts and then get a life, Goof!

          • What exactly was slanderous?
            The only slander going on here is the childish comments being made about Mr.Fryer.
            Watch the news in the upcomming weeks to see how great your Mr. Hurst is.
            By the way you never post your name even though you blog on every site you can find.

          • Common sense = Re-Elect Mayor Wayne Hurst!

            No sense = "frikkin trippin rickkin fryer"…LOL

            Obviously people, someone who files a lawsuit caused by his own negligence has no business even being on town council, period!
            Time for you to move to La Salle Rick!

            The End!

          • "Shop" clearly did not attend even attend High School.
            "Shop" is probably a grade school drop-out loser that has no business living in Amherstburg – home of Rick Fryer our SuperHero and future Leader.
            "Shop" is probably LaSalle Rosa's illegitemate child.

          • ""Shop" clearly did not attend even attend High School. "

            Lol, that's ironic, nice sentence 'brainiac'… typical Fryer voter…

  25. We should be allowed to vote for and against candidates in an algebraic way.

  26. Don't forget Mayor Stephen Mandel of Edmonton! In 10 years, he has driven Edmonton down to the ground!

  27. without mayor hazel, we'd have what brampton got….low income housing, and yes the crime percentage has gone up in brampton, and more domestic violence reports in these areas. that's only the tip of the iceburg. it's only logical to assume that maclean magazine is a bit ticked at hazel simply because, their toronto mayor is FAR worse than she could ever have been (LET ALONE IN 30 YEARS)!!!!

  28. re: Amherstburg mayor Wayne Hurst
    The national public should also know that Ranta Marina was "donated" to our town many years ago. Not only did the town sell it for $584,000, the new buyers turned around and re-sold for over $1 million! Mayor Hurst did not listen to the voices of the citizens who opposed the sale. Just wondering what he got out of it.

    • The originally donated Ranta Marina property as purchased for $584,000. was re-sold (flipped) for $1,300,000.
      Plain and simple, somebody made an immediate profit of $716,000.
      Rick Fryer did not want to sell, Wayne Hurst did.
      Now that's a story for McLean's Magazine.

      • It's not a story because Macleans would see that it was an accounting move. It was re-sold to a separate corporation that is owned by the ORIGINAL investors. If the original purchasing company had some tax loss carry-forwards, they could offset these by incurring an immediate capital gain by selling the property to the second separate corporation (but same owners). This resets the purchase price upwards for future capital gains, and probably allows for more room in terms of CCA (depreciation expenses).

        Macleans is not interested in writing a story about an efficient tax move, cause it's boring.

        That's the REAL story. Plain and obviously not so simple for you to understand.

        • All McLean's or anyone for the matter, did a simple search of the "corporations" so referred to – it will note that some different names appear in the second corporation.
          The argument is not that anyone did anything wrong – but regardless of how one colours this "efficient tax move", somebody received a $716,000. benefit and it is based on a proper value of $1,300,000 or it is not.
          If the property (formerly owned by the taxpayers of Amherstburg) is not worth $1,300,000 it is a fradulent transfer that CRA would no doubt have concerns about and that is the REAL story here.

  29. One thing Vancouver has for sure:an absolutely lousy mayor!

  30. It's too bad it seems canadians major in politics was stupidity…why cant we get it right …kick out the crooks and leeches who are too lazy to get jobs…look at the senate ..its not even funny anymore

  31. All politicians are very similiar to crack-heads, po;iticians will lie, deceive and mislead. I have never seen a honest politician …EVER. Nothing but a bunch of thieves! . Its time to kick them all to the curb.

  32. With the provincial and federal elections at least you don't have to dig much for relevant information on what a person/ party stands for. In the last municipal election, there was a little information in the local paper and even less on the web. As far as pamphlets delivered to my door, most of those were useless.

    Also, how about making it more a democracy and make it free or near free for anyone to run for any elected municipal position (not just the well heeled and well connected), and have local media and the candidates step up and give us some useful information to help the voter decide.

    Candidates: I couldn't care less how many kids you have, your education, and where you have worked/volunteered – how about some information about where you stand on issues, and if you are an incumbent how have you have voted on major issues since you have been in council.

    Any major projects should go to a plebiscite. Construction costs should be bid on and set in stone – these companies have been around long enough to know the true costs and bids should be made accordingly -if local contractors don't like this process, hire companies outside of town they will soon 'like it' . If you are redesigning as you build, there is something wrong with someone up top making decisions. Oh, and if you build in a swamp area it's going to sink somewhat (some advice free of charge without a 'consultant fee'). Those building should guarantee their work for a period of time, so taxpayers aren't paying for things like fixing a roof on a near new building.

    • agreed!

  33. Thank you Macleans! As someone said in the Windsor Star "Anyone RATIONAL will read this article and say this is what we've been saying about him all along". I know I will never donate a piece a property to the town of Amherstburg because they will turn around and sell it. Mayor Hurst needs to understand the difference between "special interest groups" and what the majority of people believe. The majority of citizens believe that Ranta Marina should not have been sold. He did not represent/listen to the residents of Amherstburg and now he will lose some votes because of it.

    • The majority of Amerstburg residents did want to get rid of the marina..since it was a money losing operation. The only people who wanted to save it and yes they were vocal were the 100 or so boaters who actually used it. Ninety eight per cent of the residents who don't own boats didn't really want to fund "the good life" for the few boaters.

      • Hey nonboater,

        Check out all the nonboater "Vote Rick Fryer for Mayor" signs – hundreds of them throughout the community :>)

  34. I wonder if Macleans will do an article about Mayor Hurst in Amherstburg when he gets officially charged with fraud over the Navy Yard fountain. It's only a mater of time now before all of the skeletons come out of the closets in Amherstburg.

    • Lots of skeletons – don't forget Pizzuti's

    • Too bad there is no truth to this except another attempt of Rick Fryer to try to destroy the Wayne Hurst's character . Dirty!!

      • Regarding Wayne Hurst's character – As he would say, "You is what you is".

  35. Fair Fryer cant even walk. He sure can talk though did he call Canadas Worst magazine Mcleans. The only place I ever saw that magazine was at 36000 feet above ground. They are way over my head still. Does anybody really read it. Oh does anybody know who funds they crappy mag.

    • Learn how to spell Cheryl and quit listening to Grace.

  36. Gregor Robertson is a hot mess, but a mess all the same. There is however a very fine example of how a mayor should get the job done right over in Surrey, with the fantastic Dianne Watts. Must drive Gregor mental to see a competent person doing the job right!

    • With all this sucking and blowing going on, it appears that Cheryl now has a fan!

  37. What a spectacular lack of research re: the Calgary election. There is a three-way horse race going on in Calgary and it could end with a Harvard-educated progressive 38-year-old taking the top job. The story here is not about McIver. You missed out.

  38. Thank you for exposing our mayor's, Wayne Hurst 's antics to the rest of Canada. The selling of Ranta Marina despite what the residents wanted lacked judgement. I can't imagine how anyone rational could vote for him after this article.

  39. Wayne Hurst had nothing to do with the creation of the Navy Yard Park. The story is about lousy mayors and they cited Wayne's campaign vision. Perhaps you should attend some council meetings and do some research on some of the poor decisions our mayor has made besides citing false accomplishments.

  40. Thank you Maclean's for writing this article. It's nice to see all the biggest whiners/goofs in Amherstburg gather on one message board. Can't wait too see what people complain about after a term of Fryer as Amherstburg's Mayor.

  41. And Larry O'Brien is the model of how things should be done at the federal and provincial levels? You're a genius.

  42. I just read the comments and was surprised no has written from London so far. I guess one Liberal will be as good as the other. They will spend and spend while telling us they are trying their best for us the poor taxpayer. London the home of the frills while our underbelly rots away.

  43. "… eclipsing serious debate on the future direction of the city, which is deeply in deficit."

    The City of Toronto has debt. Given it's massive infrastructure needs and with two senior levels of government in deficit, it also has a revenue problem.

    However, Toronto's last several annual budgets have been balanced, most recently with a small surplus, so there's no "deficit".

  44. Ironic. this article needs to be referred to some time in the near future considering how different the turnout in Calgary was. A 38-year old, Muslim, visible minority has just been elected by a what anyone would call a landslide in this city. Voter turn-out alone is something to be mentioned in this year's mayoral election.

  45. In response to D.F…… At least the 'whiners/goofs' that you refer to are the rational people in town. Who would ever vote for Hurst after this article and after all of the poor decisions he has made. Even the Windsor Star inferred that you had to be an irrational person to vote for Hurst. I have to laugh at those with Hurst signs on their lawns. I will also laugh because he will get back in because of the bunch of uneducated bumpkins that live in the burg.

  46. I hope that you realized that "Bubbles" is not an official candidate running in the election for either Orillia or Severn Township to the north, regardless of what you may find on the internet. There are 3 candidates for Mayor in Orillia and they are all decent candidates. Just because there is information out on the internet doesnot make it accurate. Please check your facts before you publish stuff that is just plain wrong.

  47. It's unfortunate that this dubious contest wasn't open to nominations. Not even a mention of David Miller.

  48. Now you can add Harvard educated David Miller, the shame of Toronto. Shooting, killing is a daily event here, he does not mind. Friday night at 7. PM I was waiting for a scheduled # 60 bus on Steeles Avenue – they never came. Unionized TTC employees run the schedule. After 35 min ,waiting in the windy cold glass booth , I had to take a cab. The cab and the driver stunk of nicotine, hey this guy had a valid license no other choice for me. Have you taken the TTC lately? Dirty cars, spoiled food on the floor, Mr MIller you are still in charge, que passa?

  49. Once again Victoria is getting ignored by eastern Canada publications. Our mayor, dean fortin, certainly qualifies as one of the worst in Canada but admittedly he has had a great deal of help from a far less than stellar city council. Look where we placed on the most dangerous cities ranking, number 2? Our mayor and council's drug/crime friendly policies have contributed greatly to such a remarkable score. Their fiscal irresponsibility is raising our taxes and putting us on a short list of cities needing federal financial assistance. So please, give us some credit on the west coast for having one of the worst.

  50. Your headline refers to 'Canada's lousy mayor's' and includes photos of three of them, one being Vancouver's mayor Gregor Robertson. So one would think that the article would support that argument. Instead, the article only refers to Vancouver in terms of its party system, and not even that is considered 'lousy' – in fact, the angle in the article is that Vancouver's should be a model for other municipalities. Nothing about Vancouver's mayor being perceived as lousy. Sothe accusation [with the headline and photos chosen to represent 'lousy mayors'] is not just a leap… together, they make a claim that does not exist in the content of the story. Isn't that what editors are for?

  51. Mississauga is what it is because of Hazel. Her efforts as mayor since 1978 has molded and shaped Mississauga into a city worth being proud of. Although it was formerly all farm-land once, the infrastructure is booming with the implementation of Square One, the Mississauga Library, the main bus terminal and condos near Burnhamthorpe and Highway 10. Not to mention the fact that new roads are being built left, right and center to accommodate traffic congestion, and that already-built roads are being repaired. Crime rates are lower here versus other cities and she even saved a man from suicide for crying out loud! In the eyes of the residents of Mississauga, it’s not that she’s scared of opposition as to why she has no campaign or why she doesn’t , it’s because we KNOW she’ll continue to make Mississauga a great place to live. She doesn’t need signs to make herself known like the others. The city is growing and thriving, not shriveling up and dying. She has paved a smooth and bright path for the future of Mississauga and our children. As a native Mississaugian, I am proud to have Mayor McCallion as the “head of operations”, so to speak. There are far more “lousy” mayors than Hazel, so I think your list should be revised before being published.

  52. To reiterate my comment, today was the mayoral election and it doesn’t surprise me that McCallion won by a landslide victory (yet again) with over 100,000 votes (76%). The 2nd runner up, less than 11,000 votes (8%). The votes don’t lie.

  53. Mayor Hurst must now repair all the broken fences!

  54. haha – I like it! May I suggest Part 2?

    Canada's lousy news media
    When politics matter more than ever, why did we end up with such bad news media?

    This might be a book

  55. Worst Mayor ever….every…Angelo Orsi, Orillia Ontario. Just for a sample of in ineptitude, watch the roger’s tv coverage of the meeting held October 19, 2012.

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