A Scarborough councillor wants to give Toronto voters the power to recall their misbehaving politicians, but only if they pay for it.
“If you’re serious about it, you’re going to have to raise the money,” said Chin Lee, who is scheduled to move a member’s motion at the Toronto Council meeting later today, Wednesday, April 2.
Lee said he has wanted to help citizens get the opportunity for recall ever since he was first elected to represent his Scarborough-Rouge River ward in 2006.
Since then, Mayor Rob Ford’s misbehaviour has made other residents consider the idea.
So has a provincial private member’s bill, introduced last fall by Progressive Conservative MPP Randy Hillier, which proposes allowing recall when 25 per cent of eligible voters in the previous election sign a petition.
Lee likes the legislation, known as Bill 124, but he also supports making the organizers of a recall petition pay 75 per cent of the cost for a resulting byelection.
That may “weed out the frivolous petitions,” as Lee argues, but it means dumping a Toronto councillor comes with a hefty cost: $187,500.
Recalling a mayor in Toronto would take $5,250,000, all of which must be raised in 99 days.
It’s possible the motion, which is seconded by Scarborough-Agincourt Councillor Mike Del Grande, could simply be referred to council’s executive commitee for study, but Lee said it marks “the start of a conversation” on recall.
In any case, the province must change the law to allow a recall to take place in its municipalities, and Hillier’s bill is unlikely to pass without support from other parties in the legislature.
- Mike Adler