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Local and Urban Politics

E07 - Micro-paper Roundtable: ‘Creatures of Provinces’ or Local Democracies? Exploring the Place of Municipalities in Canada’s Democracy in Light of the Doug Ford Government’s Interference in Toronto’s Municipal Election

Date: Jun 4 | Time: 03:15pm to 04:45pm | Location: SWING 407

Chair/Président/Présidente : Kristin Good (Dalhousie University)

‘Creatures of Provinces’ or Local Democracies? Exploring the Place of Municipalities in Canada’s Democracy in Light of the Doug Ford Government’s Interference in Toronto’s Municipal Election:

Kristin Good (Dalhousie University)
Warren Magnusson (University of Victoria)
Caroline Andrew (University of Ottawa)
Jack Lucas (University of Calgary)
Martin Horak (Western University)
Matthew Kellway (York University )
Kate Graham (University of Western Ontario )

Abstract: Municipalities are often dismissed as ‘creature of provinces’ in Canada because they lack independent constitutional status; formally, municipal institutions are an exclusive area of provincial responsibility under section 92.8 of the written constitution. However, a great deal has changed in the country and its democratic institutions, practices and constitution since this element of Canada’s written constitution was entrenched in 1867. Canada has been transformed from a largely rural country with colonial ties to Britain into an independent, largely urban and multicultural federation with universal suffrage for citizens. Constitutionally, we have witnessed fundamental changes to the written constitution including the entrenchment of amending formulae, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Aboriginal rights as well as significant constitutional shifts in federalism and rights through judicial interpretation. In the context of the evolution of the country and the constitution, what is and ought to be the place of municipal governments in Canada’s multilevel democratic system? The roundtable begins with the case of the Doug Ford government’s interference in the Toronto municipal election 2018 as an example of the way in which the constitutional doctrine of ‘creatures of provinces’ influences provincial policy, judicial review, and ultimately also citizen engagement, at the expense of the principle of local democracy. Participants critically explore the constitutional doctrine of ‘creatures of provinces,’ the purpose of municipalities as governments, the importance of municipalities as policymakers and offer ideas concerning how we might best realize the principle of local democracy in Canada.