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It’s hard to ensure the dozen (or often more) units of government that appear on a tax bill are wisely and transparently spending residents’ money.With fewer units of government, a taxpayer has a fighting chance at keeping on top of what each one is doing.Variously described as "the chief officer," "the chief executive officer" or "the head of council" in provincial statutes, the mayor may be high profile but, in fact, has little power independent of the municipal council.All provinces provide that the mayor shall be elected at large (meaning that unlike councillors, they do not represent a specific geographic area or "ward" of the municipality).As it’s part of the Senate’s Grand Bargain budget compromise — which is on life support — its outcome is iffy at best.But early votes on it had solid support, which inspires some hope it could survive as a standalone bill if needed.
Council members are politicians who are voted into office in municipal elections, along with school trustees and some other local officials are also elected, including parks representatives in cities such as Vancouver.
Most municipal councils establish committees to direct and control the public service.
Each committee makes recommendations to the municipal council.
Committees deal with issues ranging from transportation to policing to finances.
In contrast to the practice in some American cities, in which duties such as budget formation and appointment of administration officers are the responsibility of the mayor, the significance of this office in Canada does not stem from the assignment of such powers but rather from its high profile — although a mayor with a forceful personality may also be a strong leader.
Ottawa's Larry O’Brien, who owned a multi-million dollar high tech company, faced influence peddling charges related to his 2006 election to office, and was acquitted in 2009.