restricted access Responding to Policy Change from Above: Municipal Accountability and Transparency Regimes in Ontario

In 2006, the Ontario government amended the Ontario Municipal Act by passing Bill 130, the Municipal Statute Law Amendment Act. Among other things, this legislation required that municipalities adopt a number of mandatory provisions relating to accountability and transparency. Local governments were also asked to consider a number of voluntary measures. This essay examines how 12 municipal governments in Ontario responded to these mandatory and voluntary legislative requirements. Using primary documents and elite interviews with local government officials, the authors analyzed the municipal processes and outcomes produced in response to Bill 130. The findings suggest that, in general, Ontario municipalities tended to react negatively to the mandatory and optional policy changes instituted from above. None the less, there was some variation in municipal responses, much of which can be explained by focussing on variations in municipal policy learning, organizational legacies, public input, and to a lesser extent, time and cost restraints.