Can Toronto fire Mayor Rob Ford?

We asked an expert what might come next at Toronto City Hall


(Michelle Siu/CP)

With the dismissal of his longtime aide and, until yesterday, chief of staff Mark Towhey, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is growing increasingly isolated.

Many news sources are now reporting that Ford fired Towhey, who has been at Ford’s side since his successful 2010 mayoral campaign, after Towhey pressed him to enter rehab, and balked at the mayor’s plan to arrange a party for his high school football team in the wake of the Toronto Catholic District School Board’s decision to drop him from his coaching position with the Don Bosco Eagles.

Ford’s world has been crumbling ever since Gawker and the Toronto Star published reports that a video exists showing the mayor allegedly smoking from a glass crack pipe; he is said to be most distraught, however, over the loss of his coaching job. Now Ford’s executive committee, a cabinet-like inner circle of councillors, is said to be examining ways it can govern in the mayor’s absence. Maclean’s spoke with Ryerson University politics prof Myer Siemiatycki about the options available to council in this case.

Q: First, is there any precedent for this kind of thing—a council, or executive, looking at how to bypass a troubled mayor?

A: The emphasis is on “this”? And the answer is no. The past two and half years have stretched the boundaries of what anyone who has observed city politics in this country could think was conceivable as a course of conduct on the part of a mayor. So there’s no question that we are into new territory here, unchartered waters.

Q: Some are comparing this to other mayoral mishaps—while Mel Lastman was mayor of Toronto, for example, it was found that he’d been engaged in a longtime extramarital affair, which had produced twin boys, and he made awkward comments, like about how he was afraid he’d be boiled in a cauldron during a visit to Africa?

A: There have been occasional missteps and faux pas. The current mayor  takes it to a totally new and different level, in the range of personal behaviour, violation of norms, of civic government and administration. I guess what this mayor appears to have done, unlike any previous mayor, is cross lines of legality, whether it’s campaign spending, whether it’s issues of conflict of interest, whether it’s how he drives his car, whether it’s how he comports himself in private.

Q: So you can’t think of a case where a city council or executive committee has looked into options in terms of governing without a mayor?

A: There have been instances of other municipal politicians in Ontario who have been charged with various things, and even convicted. But whether that then requires them to give up their elected office position, the case practice on that appears to be—no. The only provision in the law is if a municipal elected official goes to jail, then that person can be removed from their position because they’re not physically available to hold their seat. That’s the legality of it.
Then there’s another dimension to this: what can you get away with, what kind of heat can a municipal politician withstand before they decide that the pressures are too great, the public scorn and scrutiny is too acute, and they are going to resign? This is where a municipal council can censure another member, it can call on a member of council to be forthright and give full disclosure of their behaviour, as Toronto is doing. But there is no recall mechanism.

Q: You have to be physically unavailable?

A: You’d have to be in the slammer. Now you could argue that this is a good thing for democracy. The people elected somebody and it shouldn’t be the whims of other politicians to decide to throw somebody out of a position that they have been elected to. But on the other hand, if a large enough number of peers of a sitting elected official make it clear that they believe that a colleague of theirs has behaved in a way that it no longer compatible with that person continuing to hold public office, then that starts to ratchet up the political heat on the position.

Q: You could argue that that happened in Mayor Ford’s case a long time ago. And he is also somebody who is immune to shame, and I think shame is the regulating factor in most normal situations. So therefore what can either council or executive committee do in that kind of case?

A: The larger the number of other members of council who name his leadership and his behaviour as incompatible with the best interests of the city, then the more likely it is that public support and public confidence in the mayor will erode. It’s no longer the usual suspects who are criticizing the mayor. In a world where the mayor himself is slow to perceive any wrong that he may have committed, when large enough numbers of his peers, including those who have been his allies, begin to speak out against him, his continuation may, even to him, become seen as increasingly untenable.

Q: I know I’m asking you to see into the future, but what’s the most likely scenario—how does this play out?

A: I think we have gotten to a point where … We know predictions are worthless. I do not believe the mayor is for his office for a much longer period of time.

Q: You see him resigning?

A: I see him either resigning or announcing that he wishes to take a leave, to deal with various issues, and would claim at this point that he looks forward to returning to office and championing the good fine causes he has been proposing all along. The impregnable fortress of his own sense of entitlement and righteousness I think is under siege.

Q: Looking back on his career I can’t see any precedent for his folding unless absolutely forced to do so.

A: Well, he’s going to have to ask himself does he really want to have a life where he has to go underground, be in hiding, if he ever turns up in his office he has to find a way of secretly getting from the parking lot into his office—is that the kind of life he wants?


Can Toronto fire Mayor Rob Ford?

  1. The word is ‘shun’. If Ford’s friends, council, and the press itself shun him, he will resign in a week.

    • If they want to shun sound journalistic principles, Canada will be the poorer for it.

      • What Journalistic Principles….The Toronto Star proved they have no Principles by publicly accusing Ford of wrongdoing without having any hard evidence in their possession to support those allegations…all they have managed to succeed in doing is giving Ford legal grounds to launch a massive lawsuit for smearing his good name publicly !

        • What “good” name?

          • Liz, they have no physical evidence whatsoever that Ford was involved in any drug use. (sorry but the heresay allegations of a few reporters who “claim” to have seen this non-existant “fantasy video-tape” does not in any way Constitute any form of legal physical evidence ) – Ford himself denied ever using drugs in a public statement- Thus, those who have accussed him of such illegal drug use publicly (the reporters from Toronto star,Gawker ,etc ) are criminally Guilty of making “False allegations” , “Defamation of Character” and “Libel” under the Criminal code of Canada. and are thus now legally subject to both criminal charges and civil litigation by Ford should he wish to pursue criminal charges and a civil lawsuit !

    • Wishful Thinking on your part…lmao

  2. Why should Ford leave. Until the video surfaces, he should be treated as innocent and proven that it is him. But all common sense left the room a week ago.

    He already addressed the video by calling it ridiculous.

    Never has a politician been treated so poorly by the media.

    The witch hunt will continue until the star has him removed. If not this story the next one they will shill up.

    The biggest story of this is how a journalism core that was supposed to be unbiased is now one of the most biased, relating oped stories as news and not using investigative tools to find the truth.

    If Rob Ford is a drug addict as claimed by the media, find others to verify the story and print their names or scoop everyone and buy and verify the video. But the media has stopped investigating years ago.

    •       He shouldn’t answer to charges by:

      Gawker. “Daulerio shifted the focus of the site away from editorial content and more toward what he described as “traffic-whoring” and “SEO bomb-throws.” by –Wikipedia, Gawker

      Toronto Star. A known Ford political opponent.

           He shouldn’t answer charges based on:

      Unsubstantiated claims reporters were talking to drug dealers. These types don’t go around with a city-issued Crack Dealer License. Nobody knows who the reporters were talking to; but what’s worse is that nobody seems to care.

      Videos unexamined by technical experts on large monitors for pixel manipulation, motion analysis impossibilities, voice-spectrum non-matching.

      Videos offered for sale by these purported ‘drug-dealers’, and then mysteriously withdrawn.

      I get the impression that journalists, reporters, and bloggers on the left and right are circling around the Star ‘reporters’ as human shields. They should be in the spotlight at the present, not Ford.

  3. Here’s the thing. If Ford really wasn’t involved, why hasn’t he just publicly said so? He would have no problem outirght denying the video as being fake. But the fact that he isn’t speaking at all and is avoiding the press – is just adding to his supposed guilt and fuelling more speculation.

    • Normally I would agree with you, but the quality of ‘evidence’ has reached such an all-time low, it would be bad practice to answer to it.

      Should one address the allegations of howling wolves? Gawker has sunk below the level of gossip-rag. Let me repeat:

      “Daulerio shifted the focus of the site away from editorial content and more toward what he described as “traffic-whoring” and “SEO bomb-throws.” by –Wikipedia, Gawker

      • Evidence is fine. Three reasonable people spoke about what they saw. Less is often required to convict. Without a contradictory claims, this is all we have.

        • Three people with a lot to gain, and plausible deniability (if the video does not appear), spoke about what they saw. I think in a way, Rob Ford and the Toronto Star are like two mutually enabling crack addicts.

          The zeal and tackiness with which the Star goes after Ford on his many personal flaws (I don’t think any other Canadian politician was ever exposed to this level of scrutiny on personal matters) is precisely what allows him to blame the media when he communicates with his base. Rob Ford is unconstrained by the press, precisely because of its vendetta against him. But this polarization generally helps Ford (though he may have lost the last of his nine lives), and certainly sells newspapers.

        • hahaha thats hilarious – you mean three reasonable people with a personal political vendetta against Ford ! -that pretty much throws their credibility for honesty right out the dam window..lol. ..No for a guilty conviction of “any offence” in Canada…you need solid hard evidence -I know this for fact as im a retired Peace Officer. Alleged Witness statements mean “squat” minus any physical hard evidence. I can accuse you of anything under the sun- that doesnt make it factually true in either a court of law or the court of public opinion (except to a minority of biased closed-minded individuals perhaps) By the way there is “Contradictory Claims” Ford himself denied ever using drugs…and the onus is legally not on him to prove to his innocence…the onus is on his accusers to prove the “Guilt” and wrondoing they have accused him of – or face the very real reality of a massive financial lawsuit which I have no doubt Mr.Ford surely intends to launch and file against the Toronto Star.

          • doubt you’ve ever been a peace officer, but that’s irrelevant.

            Two journalists (three including the guy from gawker) gave public statement of them having seen the video, not of anything else. They described the video in detail-what they saw. That is enough to convince reasonable people of existence of the video. Whether the video is of a look-alike, a fancy fake, etc.. is a different story.

            The video exists.

          • Well You also doubt that Rob Ford is innocent and you’re wrong about that as well ..lol. Your lack of legal knowledge proves you know absolutely squat about how the legal system works in Canada as it relates to Court based evidence required to obtain criminal convictions. I really get a kick out of arm-chair lawyers out there who “THINK” that by someone making mere “Allegations” based on “Alleged” evidence they “Claim” to have seem somehow even remotely consistutes actual “Evidence” of guilt. AS far as “Reasonable people” goes…Courts base evidence on “FACTS” not the mere “Opinions” and “Heresay” testimony of any “Reasonable people”. You better go study up on the law my friend- Your arm-chair legal skills are severely lacking and Real credibility in the “Real World. They may pass in the court of biased Liberal public opinion and Gossip columms perhaps- But falls flat on their face as far as actual “Evidence” goes that would be required to determine guilt in a court of law.

        • What evidence ????..lmao.-Heresay allegations is legally invalid without any physical evidence to back it up.

      • Danny, Ford has openly spoken out and condemmed these allegations as lies on his radio show last week…this was broadcasted all weekend on the Sun News network. Im sure the Liberal media convienantly avoided broadcasted Fords comments however because it seems they want to run with this lie and continue perpetuating this BS myth of a video-tape. If an actual video-tape existed Trust me the Liberal media would have already have their hands on it ….frothing at the mouth in glee- however we all know that no video tape exists and this was merely just another media circus prank to attack Fords character because the Liberals couldnt beat him at the voting booth…so they continuously develop bogus scandals to attack Fords character instead….Total childish Bully tactics.

    • Where have you been ? ..Ford gave a public statement stating he has never used drugs in his life in front of the media last week . What video are you referring to…You mean the so-called infamous video that no one has ever seen-except the individuals at the Toronto star who “claimed” they seen some mystical fabricated video from some mystery nigerian crack dealer who they neglected to name ? -These very same Toronto Star Reporters who have had a personal political vendetta against Ford since he became Mayor ? ,,Yeah I mean who wouldnt think theyre credible with no political agenda right ? …lmao..My god you people are either extremely gullible and just that stupid …or you are complete Liberal supporters who also have an agenda against Ford. Lets face it people…the Liberal media and Liberal politicians of Toronto couldnt beat Rob Ford fair and square at the Voting Polls – so ever since he took office they have resorted to underhanded Dirty political tricks to attempt to smear Rob Fords name in an effort to try to shame him into quitting…but Ford is not the type of pussy to back down from injustices against him and he is fighting back as any normal individual who knows their rightous would. Mr,Ford will no doubt soon serve his accusers a court summons to appear in court to face charges of “Defamation of Character” and “Libel” . Falsely accusing someone of a criminal offence publicly… is both a Civil and criminal offence in Canada.

    • Ford did give a public statement- where have you been lately ? -He stated explicity last week that he never used crack and was innocent of these allegations.

  4. See Code of Conduct

    The Integrity Commissioner may also recommend that Council or a local board

    (restricted definition) take the following actions:

    1. Removal from membership of a Committee or local board (restricted definition).

    2. Removal as Chair of a Committee or local board (restricted definition).

    3. Repayment or reimbursement of moneys received.

    4. Return of property or reimbursement of its value.

    5. A request for an apology to Council, the complainant, or both.

    • All that because some young video wizards posed as ‘crack-dealers’, and hoodwinked the honorable likes of Gawker?

    • None of that applies against Ford or in this case especially – since there is absolutely “no hard evidence” to support any of these false allegations.

  5. Ford is clearly guilty. His every action screams it.

    • How do you figure that ???..lmao..Youve got quite the wild imagination there or is it simply wishful thinking on your part ?

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    • This comment was deleted.

      • Oh… well… Thank God for that!

        Female teacher and male student..
        Eh… I’m not really seeing too much of a problem with that. They
        should just slap her on her bare bottom and say, “No! Bad teacher! No!
        No!” and just let it go at that. (sarcastic)

  7. First of all There is no evidence Ford has done anything wrong….I think its time to back off before Mr.Ford starts to play hardball and sues every media outlet.Reporter and individual who has publicly accused him of wrongdoing. “Defamation of Character” and “LIBEL” are very serious grounds for lawsuits (and successful lawsuits at that) so lets tone down the “BS” people -because since there is no hard evidence to suspect or convict Ford of “ANYTHING” – what we have here is a bunch of Liberal BS Rumors and allegations by a Liberal media newspaper who no doubt merely have an agenda to de-throne Ford from the Mayors office. Why is it everytime Liberals lose an election fair and square….they resort to underhanded political dirty tactics ? …No,Ford isnt going anywhere…But I can see a whole lot of reporters in the very near future going somewhere….and that is to their nearest unemployment Line.

    • First it was the feminists who tried to slander Rob Ford as a chronic woman abuser, then it was that Sarah Thomson setup which the Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee planned on Rob Ford and now its the video rumors.

    • At least four different people say they have see Mr Ford in this compromising video ! Murderers have been put away for less. What is he doing in a picture that shows him apparently partying with people said to be involved in the drug trade…one of which has been shot dead. My friend, if it walks like a duck, well I think you get the point.

      • 4 PEOPLE can conspire to claim to have seen anything they want Mike- without any hard physical evidence however – it means “Squat” legally.
        Everything they “Claim to have seen Ford do in some alleged video” is all “HERESAY” legally and worthless without any hard concrete physical evidence. (and even if a tape did surface it would need to be examined forensicly to ensure it wasnt “doctored” – Because in this day and age of photo-shop and digital media manipulation…”anyone can be made to appear to be doing anything” (if you have someone who knows how to digitally edit and manipulate photo’s and digital tape)

        Now as far as the murder thing goes…Drug dealers get killed all the time- its the nature of the business – “rival street gangs do not like Competition or anyone invading their drug turf “…all you have to go on here is a bunch of heresay and conspiracy theory. (which has no legal merit as far as hard evidence goes )

    • This is a funny comment after today’s news. Turns out it was Ford defaming the journalists and papers for the past 6 months.

      • No he wasnt actually because they asked him if he is doing drugs- they never asked him if he did them in the past- which by the way he stated “He may have done them in one of his drunken stupors” (when out celebrating at a party) – and if Chief Blair was so convinced that he had any type of real solid evidence on that tape, he would have not only released the tape by now – but he also would have charged Ford already…none of which has occurred…so you see, even with Ford admitting he cant remember whether he did them or not and concedes he may have in one of his drunken stupors…is not a solid admission of any guilt- because he truly does not recall doing any drugs,therefore he never really lied to anyone because he seriously doesnt recall doing any. (which is why he is now demanding to see the tape for himself to prove whether these allegations are correct or not ) and if anyone is getting sued…it will be Chief Bill Blair and the liberal media..because since Ford has not even been charged with any wrongdoing…he can sue the media for slander,Libel,for harrassment, and defamation of character, and also for emotional pain and suffering due to media harrassment of him and his family.

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