Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday May 24, 2023
Peeling the Layers: Ford’s Political Shake-up in Peel Region
Peel Region undergoes significant political development as Premier Doug Ford’s government pursues the separation of Mississauga and Brampton from the regional municipality. This parallels Toronto’s amalgamation reversal in 1998. The implications are substantial, especially with approaching elections and high stakes for Ford and other key players.
Toronto’s amalgamation brought coherence but failed to deliver promised savings. Similarly, dissolving Peel Region is challenging, yet many argue it’s the right course. Brampton and Mississauga’s rapid growth strains their relationship as Canada’s sixth-largest cities. Their populations hold significant political weight and ignoring their concerns could be perilous.
Young Doug Ford: the Series
The roots of this separation trace back to Peel Region’s formation 50 years ago. Premier Bill Davis oversaw its creation against opposition from Hazel McCallion, later Mississauga’s mayor. Interestingly, Ford’s legislation to divide Peel bears McCallion’s name, a reminder of the rivalry between the cities. Opposition began under McCallion but succeeded under Mayor Bonnie Crombie, who campaigned for independence, emphasizing Mississauga’s economic prowess.
Mayor Patrick Brown demands over $1 billion compensation for shared infrastructure in Mississauga, while Crombie argues her taxpayers already bear a disproportionate burden. The financial considerations must be reconciled, despite the rivals’ tensions. The political landscape is intricate, with key figures and parties involved. Brown reinvented himself as Brampton’s mayor, while Crombie eyes Ontario Liberal leadership. Ford may face a formidable opponent in Crombie during the 2026 campaign.
With an early 2025 deadline, time is essential. Ford aims to make everyone “whole” and secure peace for Peel’s 1.5 million residents. Establishing standalone governance paves the way for “strong mayor” powers, sparking controversy. Mississauga and Brampton have no reservations, and Crombie could gain for Liberals within this Tory stronghold. The resolution will require attention to policing and financial accountability, with implications for the 2026 election.
The true impact of these political maneuvers will be understood when the ballots are counted. (AI)