Philip Mcleod

The McLeod Report - London, Ontario

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What qualities make a good mayor?

ENTRY #856: The Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal has just released a list of the qualities it believes the next mayor Canadian’s third largest city should possess. That’s an exercise you, or the organization to which you below, could usefully undertake this summer – what qualities should our next mayor have?

Monday, May 13, 2013 – London

What qualities should the mayor of a city like London possess?

There’s a good question for the summer cocktail circuit, or for the next lull in conversation at your service club, church group, neighbourhood coffee klatch.

And given the legal doodoo in which our mayor currently finds himself, it would be a timely endeavour.

London, unfortunately, isn’t the only Canadian city with mayoral troubles. Montreal’s mayor, Gerald Tremblay, resigned last fall after allegations of illegal political financing surfaced at the Charbonneau Commission which is investigating corruption in Quebec.

Last week, the Board of Trade for Metropolitan Montreal published the results of a survey to determine the qualities members would like to see in that city’s next mayor when he or she is chosen in an election Nov. 3.

The next mayor of Montreal faces three challenges, the Board of Trade agreed:
     1) Rebuilding trust between citizens and City Hall;
     2) Establishing strong leadership which will put the mayor on a firm footing with other levels of government.
     3) Setting the stage for rebuilding the city’s image.

Do those challenges sound familiar given what London is facing these days? Certainly the trust issue is here in spades, despite the breezy way our Mayor Joe Fontana dismisses citizen concern over the fraud, forgery and breach of trust charges he faces. Mayor Fontana says there were from another time, another job, back when he was a federal cabinet minister and MP for London North Centre.

Many Londoners, of course, feel how one conducts him- or herself in one job goes to character.

Those concerns do colour his leadership in the sense everyone with whom he deals – whether here or elsewhere – is left to wonder, even just a little bit, about the ethics of the man we call our leader.

Does that impact our image? Does bad news matter? Is the pope Catholic? Do bears . . . well you get the idea.

So, yes, our next mayor faces similar challenges as Montreal. Therefore the five qualities the Montreal Board of Trade feels their next mayor should have are illustrative of our needs too.

Here’s their list:

     1) Honest – A spotless past, strong ethics, transparent.
     2) A leader – Charismatic, a mobilizing force, able to make unpopular decisions.
     3) A person of action – Results driven, pragmatic, adopts a transformation strategy, quickly implements priority initiatives.
     4) Effective manager – Efficient, realistic, knows how to surround him- or herself with the right people.
     5) Focused on economic development – Can articulate a clear vision, convincing, gets involved in structuring flagship projects for the city.

Those are the qualities one organization in Montreal thinks Canada’s second largest city should seek in its next mayor.

What qualities do you (or the organization of which you are a member) think the next mayor of London should have?

Of the qualities on your list, how many does our current mayor have?

Do you think we need a new mayor?



# RE: What qualities make a good mayor?bill brock 2013-05-13 04:23
In the municipality of London candidates for Mayor or Councillor do not require qualifications as suggested above. We only get to vote for candidates meeting the basic requirements (age, owning property or renting property). The qualities suggested can only be compared to official candidates registered and eligible to stand; noting certain employees of public bodies are not eligible to run. Local politicians keep saying better people need to be attracted to office therefore one should pay more. Surely one doesn't support permitting only people with business degrees, college and / or university degrees, management degrees, professional planners etc.. In municipal politics isn't that the role of the expert highly paid non-political administrators. If role of politician is to establish policies and realistic visions for city growth; ensure all citizens are provided with necessities for better life then the qualities they need is to know the difference between honest representation and playing politics for special interests and personal opinion being the only way to go. Unpopular decisions; implementation and realistic appear to be staff issues.
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# Yes, but BillCynic 2013-05-13 13:39
Yes Bill, but generally speaking, most city councils have people who would never be appointed to a board of directors to make decisions about policies. That is why we get debates about chickens and shopping carts - they are easy to understand. It is just a sad comment. More money would not change that either. Oh, and to answer Phil's question, we certainly need a new Mayor, one without outside financial interests, one who is honest and doesn't say the first thing that enters his or her mind.
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# We need a new mayor.Vicki Van Linden 2013-05-13 15:17
Yes, we need a new mayor.

The role of Joe Fontana in a Tax-shelter scheme tells us a lot about his ethics. 'On the take' is how it seems. Keep in mind that he has a good pension from his years as an MP, and a generous salary as mayor; yet he dared to charge a $41,000 fee to a charity that was supposedly raising money for hungry kids and people with AIDS.

Look around the city and you will find countless hard-working volunteers for a variety of causes. Most do not even take out car expenses for their work. It is despicable that Joe Fontana feels that donation money should go to him.
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# T minus 18 monthsTime4Change 2013-05-13 15:42
With a little more than 18 months until the 2014 municipal election, it is up to us, London's long-suffering citizens, to identify and encourage a slate of good quality candidates to run for the office of mayor or ward councillor.

And what defines "good quality"? Someone with solid skills and experience - who knows the careful navigation required to change the destination.

Right now, London's destination, whether viewed in terms of population growth, commercial presence, or gross domestic product, is simply dismal.

We desperately need leadership, someone who can communicate and deliver on an inspiring vision for a population starved of this nourishment for so long.
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# Founder/Writer www.stressbubbles.comAbby Gardiner 2013-05-13 15:42
Controversial mayors have been around forever. There are too many examples to list, from all over Canada. The question is: do citizens care? Not much. As in the way we face Canadian winters, we complain like crazy, then go into our houses, shut the door. The "as long as it isn't right in my backyard" mentality. Not terribly constructive!
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# jobsJ. Walker 2013-05-13 16:04
Mr. Fontana promised jobs, and he is doing his part.
Think of all the lawyers involved in defending his various activities.
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# To CynicRod Morley 2013-05-13 18:42
I agree that the shopping cart issue is a minor one but it still needs to be addressed.A more efficient mass transit system in this City would go a long way in solving this issue. The chiken issue howevr is not just about chickens, it is about local fodd security, something that is going to be v ery important in the very near future. Knowing the future trends and finding ways to deal with future issues is something that every hopeful politician should be learning about and coming up with inventive, creative solutions to these problems. Just driving your gas guzzling SUV to the nearest grocery store to pick up whatever food items you want might soon be drawing to a close.
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# mayormohammad 2015-04-16 04:28
a good mayor have a excellent ideas.
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