The MP to mayor pipeline: Why so many provincial and federal politicians are heading to city hall


Poke your head into any city hall throughout the nation, and there’s an opportunity you may discover a former MP or member of the provincial legislature sitting within the mayor’s chair.

Recent municipal elections in B.C., Ontario and Manitoba noticed scores of seasoned politicians making the leap — or the return — to the native degree.

Andrea Horwath is amongst them. The former Ontario NDP chief is the newly elected mayor of Hamilton, Ont.

­”Certainly I had accomplishments that actually did have an effect on all of Ontario, as an opposition chief,” she advised CBC Radio’s The House. ­”But the municipal order of presidency actually is the closest to the individuals.”

Horwath is one in all at the very least a dozen politicians in Ontario alone who beforehand held provincial or federal seats and final week gained their race to develop into mayor.

CBC News: The House8:11Why are so many federal and provincial politicians transferring into the mayor’s chair?

CBC’s Emma Godmere speaks to newly elected mayors and specialists about why so many provincial and federal politicians are making the leap to municipal politics.

But why are so many political veterans taking their skills to the native degree?

“I perceive that folk could have some cynicism,” Horwath mentioned.

“It’s not that you just’re in it for any type of private aggrandizement or private agenda. You’re in it to serve your group.”

‘People have an actual stake in you:’ former Calgary mayor

According to one in all Canada’s best-known former mayors, there’s merely no higher gig round.

“It is the one political job in Canada — the one government degree political job in Canada — the place you are really elected by everybody you serve,” mentioned Naheed Nenshi, who served as mayor of Calgary for simply over a decade.

“The prime minister just isn’t immediately elected, premiers are indirectly elected, however the mayor is,” he defined. “Because of that, individuals have an actual stake in you.”

Naheed Nenshi speaks to the media the day after being elected as mayor of Calgary in October 2010. ‘[Mayor] is the one political job in Canada — the one government degree political job in Canada — the place you are really elected by everybody you serve,’ he mentioned. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

Even if voters acknowledge that stake, some may anticipate mayors to develop into MPs — and not the opposite manner round.

“I believe we’re really very unsuitable to see politics as this sort of development, of city council being the minor leagues and then provincial and federal politics by some means being the key leagues,” mentioned Shannon Sampert, a political analyst and columnist for the Winnipeg Free Press.

Sampert — who simply helped information new Winnipeg mayor Scott Gillingham’s marketing campaign to victory — can be fast to push again on the concept politicians hopping from marketing campaign to marketing campaign could possibly be appeared down upon.

“I believe that we’d like to suppose that being a profession politician is not essentially dangerous,” she mentioned. “I believe you’ve got a best-before date … constituents will let you realize after they’re sick of you as properly.”

MPs can face lengthy durations away from house, election uncertainty

Former Conservative MP Alex Nuttall, simply elected mayor of Barrie, Ont., is one in all a number of federal representatives who selected to depart Ottawa and swap to municipal politics. Previously a Barrie city councillor, he was first elected MP in 2015 however declined to run once more in 2019, opting to spend extra time along with his household.

“When I made that call, it was one which I did not take calmly,” he advised The House.

Nuttall’s father just lately dug up an outdated hockey card from when the mayor-elect was 13 years outdated.

“And on the again of my hockey card, my future ambitions had been to develop into a member of Parliament.”

Nuttall admits that dream job got here with loads of challenges.

“When you are elected as a member of Parliament, and actually any place — it is not a job, it is a way of life, proper? It’s most extreme on the federal degree,” Nuttall defined.

“I used to be fortunate. I used to be solely a five-hour journey to Ottawa from Barrie. But there have been a lot of of us who, it is 12 hours for them to get from their house to Parliament Hill. And you realize, that has a humongous impact on household life.”

Ken Boshcoff, proper, is congratulated by a supporter after successful the mayoral race in Thunder Bay, Ont., earlier this month. (Marc Doucette/CBC)

Ken Boshcoff remembers these private impacts properly. The newly elected mayor of Thunder Bay, Ont., held the job earlier than, again within the Nineties, earlier than changing into a Liberal MP beneath the minority governments of Paul Martin and Stephen Harper.

“Every day was the opportunity of an election,” Boshcoff advised The House

“You know precisely, proper now, when the following municipal elections are — in 4 years. So it actually makes a distinction by way of stability, and your means to plan and even act as a human. Whereas in federal Parliament, you definitely would not be shopping for a automobile or a home in case you had been with the federal government at the moment. It was simply not doable.”

Taking the events out of politics

While remaining an MP comes with obstacles, leaving Parliament Hill can be troublesome for some. 

“In our analysis, we discovered challenges with transitioning to a non-political profession,” mentioned Sabreena Delhon of the Samara Centre for Democracy.

The non-partisan group has spent years holding exit interviews with MPs to get a way of why many select to transfer on from federal politics.

“Once you’ve got been a politician, it is fairly troublesome in your group to see you as the rest,” Delhon defined.”So a cynical view could be that there is this insatiable urge for food, a narcissism associated to being elected. But it may also be that political life has closed different skilled doorways for you.”

Nuttall, the mayor of Barrie, mentioned he left a profitable enterprise profession to return to municipal politics. 

“I’ve been very blessed in my personal sector profession,” he mentioned. “And I’m going again to public service, taking a pay lower, and wanting to contribute.”

The former Conservative MP mentioned it may be simpler to make that contribution with out the partisanship Parliament usually brings.

“You take the political events out of it, and the fact is that there is much more alternative for consistency, for continuity on the gadgets that are being labored on.”

Horwath introduced her resignation as NDP provincial chief on June 2, 2022, after main the celebration via 4 elections. (Tara Walton/The Canadian Press)

Horwath agrees. 

“I’ve to admit that once I left municipal politics to develop into an MPP, one of many issues I missed essentially the most was that concept that we’re all in it collectively and we’re all working from the identical house, or the identical crucial,” she mentioned.

Whether they make the leap for private causes or political causes, former Calgary mayor Nenshi will inform any veteran-politician-turned-mayor that they made the fitting selection.

“I at all times joke — and I’ve been doing it for years — that if the federal authorities disappeared whereas we had been speaking, it will be per week or two earlier than anybody seen … but when your municipal authorities had been to disappear, you’d haven’t any roads, no parks, no transit, no emergency response,” he mentioned.

“The points that we are engaged on on the municipal degree are the cool ones, the attention-grabbing ones. And I believe extra and extra politicians are determining — that is actually the place it is at.”


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