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To the Public Question Period Index page.

Mississauga News - Sept. 29, 2009 - By Radhika Panjwani,

Crucial vote on question period

Mississauga councillors are poised for an historic vote that could end a 30-year tradition at City Hall.

If the vote goes as expected at Wednesday’s City Council, public question period will be removed from council meetings and redirected to subcommittees on a trial basis until June 2010.

The argument is that subcommittees are where initial debate on issues takes place before decisions are forwarded to council for ratification.

However, several residents and ratepayers’ groups continue to be vocal in their protests about discontinuing the practice.

Among them is Andrew Hamilton-Smith, a University of Toronto Mississauga student and secretary of the Mississauga South NDP association, who was verbally blasted by Ward 7 Councillor Nando Iannicca when he first appeared before councillors to oppose the move.

Undeterred, Hamilton-Smith will be back at council tomorrow to state his views on the matter.  He told The News that he plans to ask council to form an ad hoc committee, comprising of councillors and citizens, with a mandate to gather public input and formulate a solution that is agreeable to all parties.
In July, after a public outcry, councillors deferred voting on the issue and instead asked staff to fine-tune details on how the procedure will work at the sub-committee level.

A staff report outlining those details will be presented to councillors.  According to the report, staff consulted citizen members who sit on various advisory committees and majority were amenable to moving public question period to subcommittees on a trial basis.

Recommendations in the report include restricting questions to subjects that appear on the agenda, moving the segment to the end of the meeting, and limiting questions to a total of 15 minutes.

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