Municipal Issues

This assignment gives you an opportunity to focus on a key municipal issue. Choose one of the following topics for your paper:
• Power and Politics – Political leadership can be difficult in a municipal system where decisions get made by a Council and the Mayor has few formal powers. Some advocates argue that large Canadian municipalities (cities) need a strong mayor system. Do you agree or disagree? Why or why not? Your paper should include a description of a strong and weak mayor system as well as the current system in your municipality. Use evidence from your research to support your discussion and your position on the assignment of strong vs weak mayor.
• Municipal Policy – Are municipalities policy makers or policy takers? Describe/define each term and discuss/explain your position on the question using examples from your research on municipalities. From your perspective of municipalities as policy makers or policy takers, identify and discuss at least three related challenges in the municipal policy process.
• Municipalities and the Constitution – “Local governments must get beyond the limiting mindset that they are but constitutional orphans who must constantly plead for better treatment from the provincial (and federal) government. They need to recognize their growing importance, seek out alliances within the public and private sector, and pursue a collaborative approach to the issues and challenges that they face.” (Tindal et al, 8th ed., 185) Others argue that municipalities should advocate for recognition in the Constitution as an order of government and negotiate formal relations with the provincial and federal government. What is the best approach to intergovernmental relations for municipalities – the current approach, a collaborative approach, constitutional recognition, or ? Why?
• Representation and Size of Council – There has been a lot of discussion about the size of municipal councils, initiated by the Premier of Ontario’s decision to reduce the size of Toronto City Council from 47 members to 25 members. The size of municipal councils has significant implications for effective and democratic representation and for decision-making structures and processes in the municipality. Is there a right size? What is the right size? Why? What are the factors that need to be considered in determining levels of effective representation for municipalities? (Note: this is not a discussion of the size of the City of Toronto Council)
• Representation and Elections – Local government is described as the level of government closest to the people yet fewer and fewer people vote in municipal elections. Municipal elections were held in Ontario, British Columbia, PEI, and Manitoba in the fall of 2018 and while there were some examples of high municipal voter turnout, most municipal elections experienced low or declining turnout. What is the problem? What are the options and what do you recommend needs to be done to reverse this troubling trend in municipal voter turnout before we go to the polls in October 2022?
• Are you interested in a different municipal issue? Please contact the Instructor to discuss whether your topic would be acceptable for the assignment.
CPPA 122 – Fall 2019
This assignment requires that you:
– conduct some research on a chosen topic
– describe the issue and explain why it is important to municipalities
– develop your position concerning the chosen issue and develop a written body of evidence that
supports your position. This might include a discussion of options or an analysis of a situation.
This assignment is to be in formal essay format, about 1,800 -2,100 words or 6 – 8 pages, double spaced, 11 – 12 size font. This limit will force you to be well organized and clear in your paper. Please include a bibliography of sources.
You are expected to use the course materials and to conduct additional research on your topic. Your bibliography must include at least 3 non-course references from academic or peer reviewed books and/or journals in addition to course materials. You may also include additional media and website material, where appropriate, but they should not be your only non-course references.
You must take a position in this paper – it is not sufficient to describe a situation or problem. You must use the research that you have gathered from course and non-course (academic and non-academic sources) to support your position.
Advice and Instructions
You are encouraged to structure your essay as follows:
• Introduction – to the topic and to the issue or question that you are writing about. Why is it
important? What is your thesis or position, what will you argue or try to prove in the paper?
• Body of the Essay
o Background – to the issue/topic
o Main Points/Paragraphs – this is the evidence that you have found through your
research to support your position or opinion, describes options, etc. Organize the evidence into a number of clear and strong points. Describe the evidence, explain why it is relevant to your issue and why it supports the position you are taking. You may also choose to highlight some of the criticisms of your position and offer a counter argument against those criticisms.
• Conclusion – summarize the issue, summarize the main evidence provided to support your position, reflect on the issue or question, identify the implications of your position, etc. Conclude the paper.
This assignment is worth 30% of your final course grade. It will be graded based on the following breakdown:
10 Marks
14 marks
Introduction and description of the issue
Clear statement of the issue you are addressing in the paper
Discussion of why the issue is important to the municipality or local government in general – include evidence
Clear presentation of your position on the issue – justify/defend your position based on supporting evidence and research
Justification – convincing, complete, range (three non course sources (see below)), different types of evidence/source

6 marks
CPPA 122 – Fall 2019
May include options/alternatives considered, may include references to other jurisdictions or experiences
Conclusions and summary of key points, issues, positions and any additional reflections on the topic
Clear, well communicated and presented; bibliography; connection to course materials (discussions, readings, content, etc.). Three non-course research or peer-reviewed sources appropriate to subject/issue.

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