MPA Major Research Papers

Date of Award


Degree Type

Major Research Paper

Degree Name

Master of Public Administration


Political Science


Irwin, Bill

Geographical Areas

Niagara Region, Durham County, Halton Region, Peel Region, Waterloo Region, York Region, London (UK)


This paper explores the merits of directly-elected heads of council versus appointed heads of council in Ontario’s upper-tier regional governments with a specific focus on the Niagara Region. A comparative literature review of academic papers and government publications was undertaken, principally by examining the local government reforms introduced by the Blair government in English municipalities, namely the creation of the Greater London Authority (GLA) and the position of Mayor of London. Based on the literature review, four separate theories were developed in favour of directly-elected heads of council: improved voter turnout; improved calibre of candidates standing for office; enhanced soft powers; and improved economic development efforts. Each theory was tested by speaking with elected officials and administrators from the Niagara Region and other area Ontario upper-tier municipalities. Based on the feedback provided, it was concluded that having a directly-elected chair in the Niagara Region would not improve local government and that the existing appointed system should be maintained.