Corp Comm Connects
What (quack) is a lame duck council?
May 22, 2014
By Chris Simon

Will the new town or city council be that different from the old one? If so, there might be a period where council is a so-called “lame duck” and will be restricted from making key decisions.

The idea is, even though they have not yet been sworn in, a new regime is on the way and they are the ones to make key decisions.

The term “lame duck” refers to the period after Nomination Day (Sept. 12) when council could be restricted from:

Council is not prohibited from delegating the authority to carry out these matters to a person or a body.

What factors would have to be considered when determining when or if a “lame duck” period would apply?

  1. If 3/4 of the incumbent councillors were acclaimed, then there would NOT be a “lame duck” period at all.
  2. If 3/4 of council decide not to run again, then there WOULD be a “lame duck” period Sept. 12 to Dec. 1.
  3. If 3/4 of councillors put their names forward as candidates, then there would NOT be a “lame duck” period from Sept. 12 through to Oct. 27 (Election Day), because it would not be certain that 3/4 of council would NOT be returning. After Oct. 27, it would depend on the number of councillors re-elected to determine if the “lame duck” period would start Oct. 27 and run to the Dec. 1 swearing in.
  4. If 3/4 of the incumbents were re-elected, then the “lame duck” period would NOT commence on Oct. 27.
  5. If 3/4 of the incumbents were NOT re-elected, the “lame duck” period would commence Oct. 27.

In 2006, the province ruled nothing prevents a municipal council from taking action in the event of an emergency. According to the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, an emergency is “a situation or an impending situation that constitutes a danger of major proportions that could result in serious harm to persons or substantial damage to property and that is caused by the forces of nature, a disease or other health risk, an accident or an act whether intentional or otherwise”.

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