Reporting by: Adam Jonsson, Nathan MacLeod and Brad MacDonald
Near-unanimous votes stripped many of Mayor Rob Ford’s powers on Friday, as regular city council proceedings were interrupted by two special meetings to address Toronto’s continuing leadership struggles.
The first meeting was held to discuss shifting the Mayor’s power to appoint committee chairs to deputy mayor, Norm Kelly. The second was to discuss removing the Mayor’s power to manage the City in emergency situations.
Both motions were strongly carried by council.
Mayor Ford remained calm throughout the meetings, and even admitted he would vote in favour of the motions if another mayor had behaved the way he did. Regardless, the Mayor plans to appeal the council decisions in court.
“I completely understand where my colleagues are coming from,” the Mayor said, adding “Obviously I can’t support this, and I have no other options than to challenge this in court.”
The Mayor also said that he’s “not mad at anyone.”
Following voting, councillors were pleased with the results.
“This council is united, and we have had the most polarized council I think I’ve ever seen,” said Coun. Janet Davis (Ward 31, Beaches-East York).
“The positive side of this is we now have a council speaking with one voice that is going forward now to work to restore the integrity of this institution and we will be speaking and acting in a more united way than we have in the past,” said Davis.
During Friday’s debate, Mayor Ford’s brother, Coun. Doug Ford (Ward 2, Etobicoke North), expressed concern over the precedent these types of moves could set– that councillors in the future could take action against any offending colleague.
“To compare some councillors’ minor indiscretions or even serious indiscretions with a long string of very serious examples of extremely bad behaviour — there’s obviously no comparison,” said Coun. John Fillion (Ward 23, Willowdale). “Does this set a precedent? Only if we think we’re going to see a situation like this in the next hundred years.”
Fillion added what has happened in recent months was “practically unimaginable”.
The regularly scheduled city council meeting picked up again after a 15 minute recess, but had to end for the week at 3:30 p.m., Friday. The meeting will resume and likely conclude sometime on Monday morning.
Monday will be another marathon day for city council, as another special meeting has been called on that day for 12:30 p.m. The special meeting will discuss whether to transfer the Mayor’s office budget over to the office of the Deputy Mayor.
Brad was born and raised on a farm in Elmvale, Ontario. He moved to Toronto in 2012. Brad loves municipal politics, cooking, a strong cup of coffee, and a good book. The Toronto Maple Leafs have been breaking his heart since 1991.