Media Releases

IMFG releases report that examines the fault lines at Toronto City Hall

January 21, 2013

TORONTO, ON – A report by the Insti­tute on Munic­i­pal Finance and Gov­er­nance (IMFG) looks at local gov­ern­ment in Toron­to in the wake of the tumul­tuous recent events at City Hall. The paper, by the IMFG’s André Côté, exam­ines three of the fault lines that are caus­ing fric­tion:

  • The lead­er­ship dynam­ic in a sys­tem in which Coun­cil is supreme, and the may­or has few­er for­mal pow­ers of agen­da con­trol and per­sua­sion than his par­lia­men­tary coun­ter­parts;
  • How account­abil­i­ty is under­stood and applied, both through for­mal laws and poli­cies, and the infor­mal ways cit­i­zens hold elect­ed offi­cials to account; and
  • The role of the Toron­to Pub­lic Ser­vice amid con­cerns that polit­i­cal pres­sure, the pub­lic dis­missal of senior offi­cials, and oth­er forces are “politi­ciz­ing” staff.

The paper also calls for some per­spec­tive in the civic dia­logue about Toronto’s gov­ern­ment. Over the past decade, the Toron­to mod­el has evolved into a unique hybrid, adopt­ing some of the trap­pings and account­abil­i­ty mech­a­nisms of par­lia­men­tary gov­ern­ment, while retain­ing the open­ness and Coun­cil suprema­cy of the munic­i­pal mod­el. Cit­i­zens need to rec­og­nize the “dif­fer­ent­ness” of this sys­tem. Local democ­ra­cy can be messy, but it pro­vides the pub­lic with access to the deci­sion-mak­ing process in a way that opaque, high­ly cen­tral­ized, and leader-dom­i­nat­ed fed­er­al and provin­cial gov­ern­ments do not. Still, there is urgent need for pub­lic debate about munic­i­pal gov­er­nance, and issues such as the rela­tion­ship between the may­or and Coun­cil, and the capac­i­ty of res­i­dents to engage with City Hall.

The report is the first in a new series of IMFG Per­spec­tives papersA short­er, acces­si­ble style of pub­li­ca­tion, this series is intend­ed to help inform and spark pub­lic debate about impor­tant and cur­rent issues in urban pub­lic affairs.

The report can be accessed here.

About the Insti­tute on Munic­i­pal Finance and Gov­er­nance (IMFG):
The IMFG is an aca­d­e­m­ic research hub and think tank that focus­es on the fis­cal and gov­er­nance chal­lenges fac­ing large cities and city-regions. It is locat­ed with­in the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toronto’s Munk School of Glob­al Affairs.


For more infor­ma­tion, con­tact:

André Côté
Man­ag­er, Pro­grams and Research
Insti­tute on Munic­i­pal Finance and Gov­er­nance

Tel: 416–978-2168