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Mayor gets no support for recall initiative

Mayor Marianne Matichuk is getting no help from city council in keeping her campaign promises.
City council is under the microscope of Ontario's ombudsman, who just completed his investigation into four closed-door meetings held in 2011. File photo.
Mayor Marianne Matichuk is getting no help from city council in keeping her campaign promises.

Hot on the heels of losing a vote that would have deregulated store hours for a year as a pilot project, councillors also failed to back her motion to petition the province to support a law giving voters the right to recall politicians between elections.

"I did speak to a lot of mayors and councillors when I was at AMO (Association of Municipalities of Ontario), and there was quite an appetite to look at something like this," she said at council's Sept. 11 meeting. "So I'm asking for your support to get the conversation started, knowing that passing an actual law would be years away."

The recall law and deregulating store hours were both promises Matichuk made during her successful bid for election in 2010. But like other promises - such as getting councillors to freeze their salaries - she garnered no support among council.

Objections centred on a few issues, including the cost of holding a byelection if someone was successfully recalled, the fact that elections are already held every four years, and the argument that politicians operating under recall legislation are likely to shy away from making tough decisions.

City Clerk Caroline Hallsworth said if a politician is recalled early in the term and a byelection is necessary, it can run as much as 70 per cent of the cost of a full municipal election. If it's later in the term, council can appoint a member, usually the person who finished second in the election.

Ward 6 Coun. André Rivest questioned whether the issue is important to anyone other than the mayor. He said people are concerned about housing, roads, snowplowing, etc. He doesn't hear people talk about recall legislation.

"That's what elections are for," he said. "This is not a good way to respect the taxpayers of Sudbury."

Ward 3 Coun. Claude Berthiaume agreed, saying politicians have to be allowed to do their work between elections."We do have a system of recall. It's called an election," he said.

And Ward 11 Coun. Terry Kett said a recall law would make local politicians subject to pressure from lobby groups and would inhibit them from making tough decisions that may be politically controversial, but good for the city.

"If you want to discourage good people from running for office, vote for this," Kett said.

The motion was soundly defeated, with Matichuk the only person to vote in favour.