Double direct election
In Canada, a double direct election is an election in which an individual is elected to two political offices in one electoral event. The elected individual serves on a regional council and a constituent municipal government within that region. It differs from indirect election in that in a double direct election an individual is automatically elected to two political positions, whereas in an indirect election, candidates in a municipal election must state the intention to also serve on regional council before that election. The double direct election protocol is slightly different in the case of Bowen Isand, an Island Municipality within the Islands Trust in BC. There are two ballots, one for municipal council, the other for Islands Trust. Candidates that choose to run for both offices declare that intent. The two candidates receiving the highest number of votes for Islands Trust are elected to that body, but only if they are also successful as candidates for the municipal council.
In Ontario, municipalities have legislative authority to define the number of councillors representing its council. The council of a regional municipality, a geopolitical planning body consisting of multiple municipalities, determines the number of councillors that will represent the regional municipality, and the number of councillors from each of its constituent municipalities. For many multi-tier Ontario municipalities, individuals are elected as representatives for two tiers of government in one election. In other upper tier councils, a mixed system is used by which some representatives are directly elected, and others become councillors by virtue of having been elected to a lower-tier municipal council as a mayor, reeve, or other council position.
In the past, this was the most common system used for electing representatives to upper-tier councils in Ontario. It was in use for the election of councillors to the Metropolitan Toronto city council until 1985, when the city switched to using direct election of councillors.
In the Regional Municipality of York, members of York Regional Council consist of a subset of individuals from those elected to office in each of the nine constituent municipalities (Aurora, East Gwillimbury, Georgina, King, Newmarket, Markham, Richmond Hill, Vaughan, and Whitchurch-Stouffville). These include the mayor of each municipality, and an additional eleven regional councillors from the more populous municipalities—four from Markham, three from Vaughan, two from Richmond Hill and one each from Georgina and Newmarket, who are elected via double direct election.
In 1997, the Government of Ontario passed the "Regional Municipality of Waterloo Amendment Act, 1997", enabling the seven municipalities in the Regional Municipality of Waterloo to elect individuals to both municipal council and Waterloo Regional Council for the 1997 municipal elections. (The city of Kitchener implemented the change for the 2000 municipal election.)
In 2013, the city of St. Catharines considered a change in governance to a double-direct model, in which councillors elected to St. Catharines City Council would also automatically become councillors on Niagara Regional Council, the council for the Regional Municipality of Niagara. It deferred the decision until 2015. The Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce states that this will create a "more coordinated, efficient and representative public administration".
Among councils fully or partially elected by double direct election are Durham Regional Council, Peel Regional Council, York Regional Council, and the councils for the Regional Municipality of Halton and the District Municipality of Muskoka.
The municipality of Bowen Island elects two councillors to both municipal council and the Islands Trust council during municipal elections. One of those double-direct elected Islands Trustees could be the mayor of the municipality.
In the paper Regional Peculiarities of the Municipal Reform in the Period of Transition, the authors state that double direct election results in a parochial council less interested in regional matters, as most "try to extract as much as they can for their lower tier municipality", and that the upper tier council is less accountable to the electorate. If the electorate is discontented with a representative's performance at the local or municipal level, but happy with performance at other level, it cannot retain that councillor at one level but not the other.
The authors also state that councils elected by direct election tend to be more progressive, and that they provide for stronger communication between municipal councils and regional councils, as representatives of the latter are also members of the former.
The authors of Representation on Municipal Councils in Ontario from Brock University state that double direct election presents legal and ethical issues because members must act in the best interest of the regional council for regional matters, but must also address local matters relevant to the lower-tier municipal council.
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