Nov. 27, 2014
By Chris Traber
Newmarket-Aurora Chris MPP Ballard has introduced a bill that will alter the York Regional chairperson and CEO position from being appointed to elected, bringing the region in line with other regions of the GTHA.
Currently in York Region, the chairperson is appointed by the 20 regional councillors through a nomination process at the inaugural meeting of the regional municipality of York council.
The passage of this bill will not change the process for selection of the York regional chairperson, scheduled for Dec. 11, until 2018.
This amendment will bring democracy to one of the most powerful positions in York Region, Ballard said. The chairperson sets the direction of council, has control over the agenda of council meetings and has the authority to appoint individuals to committees. The chairperson is the only member of council who works full-time on regional business, as the other councillors must attend to the business of their area municipalities as well.
In the interest of democracy, a position as powerful as that of chairperson of the region needs to be decided directly by voters in the region, Ballard said. “I thank the retiring chairperson and all those who held the position in the past, for their dedication and leadership.
“However, I have heard from many in York Region who, like me, believe the time has come for the citizens of our region to be allowed to exercise their fundamental democratic right to vote for the chairperson.”
Allowing the citizens of York Region to elect their regional chairperson will help underscore the importance of the position and bestow accountability to the position, Ballard said, adding democracies are stronger when people have a say in who they want to represent them.
This amendment was initiated by Richmond Hill MPP Reza Moridi and later re-introduced by Oak Ridges-Markham MPP Dr. Helena Jaczek, though an election interrupted the passing of the amendment in both cases.
Moridi said he is “thrilled” to see Ballard re-introducing his original bill.
York is a growing and thriving region that requires strong leadership and a strong mandate that comes directly from its citizens, Moridi said, noting he has personally championed this issue because ensuring our leaders are elected is fundamental to a democratic society.
Jaczek, who serves as Community and Social Services Minister, said she was proud to introduce a bill in 2013 that would make the chairperson directly elected.
“And I am delighted that MPP Chris Ballard has reintroduced it,” she said. “I have been a staunch supporter of an elected regional chairperson since before I was an elected official myself. An elected chairperson is necessary because it will ensure direct accountability to the electorate.
“Through elections, citizens can play an active role in shaping their future, important regional issues can be debated and representatives can be held accountable by their electorate.”