Kirkland Mayor John Meaney, who is running for his seventh term next year, said he believes limits on the terms of mayors may be a good idea.
“It will sound funny coming from me,” Meaney admitted, “but I don’t think it’s a bad idea.”
Meaney, who was elected in 1994, was reacting to a pledge made by Premier Pauline Marois in her inaugural speech to the National Assembly last week to limit the terms of premiers to two, or 10 years, and to limit the terms of mayors and municipal councillors to three. It was part of a general plan to crackdown on corruption in politics. Two days after the government made the promise, however, it appeared to be reconsidering the limits. After some backlash from the mayors of Quebec City and Saguenay, Marois said the idea is merely up for discussion.
The idea was panned by many mayors, who say it will do nothing to stop corruption, and that it ignores the will of the people to choose to keep a mayor for a long period of time. Meaney agreed he didn’t think limiting terms would stop corruption, but he does think limiting terms can be useful to allow mayors to focus on what’s most important for their towns and cities.
“I think if you know you only have 12 years, you can plan for it,” he said. “But, of course, this has nothing to do with corruption.”
He said he is planning to run for a fifth term, which would be his final one, because he believes if a law passes, it won’t take effect until after next year’s election.
Pointe-Claire Mayor Bill McMurchie, who was elected in 1998, said he hasn’t decided yet whether he will run for a fifth term, but he doesn’t think it should be up to the provincial government.
“I don’t see any merit to it all,” he said. “If you’re corrupt, you are going to be corrupt in your first term, second term and third term, as well as your fourth term. If you’re honest, it won’t matter if you’re there for four years or eight years or 12 years.”
Vaudreuil-Dorion Mayor Guy Pilon, who will run for his third term next year, had choice words for Marois’s idea.
“It’s the stupidest thing I have ever heard in my life,” he said.
He added that it is already difficult to find qualified people who want to run for office, and the new law would certainly make the problem worse.
Dollard-des-Ormeaux Mayor Ed Janiszewski said he plans to run again next year for what would be his 10th term.
One of the reasons he never stepped aside is because he didn’t feel comfortable others “would know how to say no” to bribes once they got into office, Janiszewski said.
But he was open-minded about term limits.
“If they bring them in, well, I’ll just have more time to play golf.”
Max Harrold of The Gazette contributed to this report.