Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Misconduct rules

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There's a lot of grumbling in Toronto these days about the absence of any legislation or protocol that could force Mayor Rob Ford from office, even though his behaviour clearly makes him unsuitable to lead Canada's largest city.

If he were convicted of a criminal offence, the disgraced mayor would be legally removed from office under Ontario legislation, but unless that happens, he is free to carry out his duties until the next election, when voters will decide if he is fit to be their mayor.

In Manitoba, a councillor or mayor must forfeit his or her seat if they are convicted of an offence punishable by imprisonment for five or more years, including breach of trust, corruption, "influencing or negotiating appointments or dealing in offices." As in Ontario, conviction for conflict of interest also leads to loss of seat.

Despite the frustration of those who want Mayor Ford evicted, it's appropriate that the bar for removal is high.

If councillors could remove a sitting mayor by a two-thirds vote, it could easily lead to situations where elections are overturned because a mayor is unpopular and untrustworthy, or, as in the case of Mr. Ford, a person with serious substance-abuse problems.

The current legal provisions for removing a councillor or mayor are appropriate. Beyond that, it's up to voters to decide at election time if someone should get the boot.

Editorials are the consensus view of the Winnipeg Free Press’ editorial board, comprising Catherine Mitchell, David O’Brien, Shannon Sampert, and Paul Samyn.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 8, 2013 A14

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