Lame Duck Councils

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On April 4, 2016, the Ontario Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing introduced Bill 181, the Municipal Elections Modernization Act, 2016 (MEMA). The MEMA received Royal Assent on June 9, 2016. Bill 181 and the changes that the MEMA contains, represent the most significant updates to the Municipal Election Act, 1996 and the conduct of Municipal Elections in Ontario within the last 20 years.

A specific change to the Municipal Elections Act through Bill 181 moved Nomination Day, the deadline to submit papers to run in the election, to July 27, rather than the former September deadline time period. This amendment means that Council could be in a ‘Lame Duck’ position longer than in the past.

A municipality will be forced into a lame duck situation between July 27, and October 22, if less than three quarters of the existing council members are not running for municipal council; and, between October 22 and November 30, if less than 75 per cent of the incumbent council members have been elected to serve on the next council.

If a Council is in a ‘lame duck’ position, the Council shall not appoint or remove from office of any officer of the municipality; hire or dismiss any employee of the municipality; dispose of any real or personal property of the municipality which has a value exceeding $50,000 at the time of disposal; or make any expenditures or incur any other liability which exceeds $50,000.

In the campaign period, four of the six present council members are running, though two of them are vying for Mayor. After the election, it is possible that none of those four will be on the new council, and that will certainly impact on Council’s status between October 22 and November 30.

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