Toronto City Council votes to strip Rob Ford of some powers - Macleans.ca
 

Toronto City Council votes to strip Rob Ford of some powers

Mayor threatens legal action, says move will hurt taxpayers


 

TORONTO – An unprecedented showdown between scandal-riven Mayor Rob Ford and city council appeared destined for the courts to sort out after councillors voted Friday to neuter his powers.

Unable to oust him from office, council instead overwhelmingly passed two motions — with a third to come Monday — that would all but reduce Ford’s role to ribbon cutting.

A much subdued Ford, in contrast to his previously combative style, said council had left him with no choice but to turn to the courts to overturn their decisions.

“This is going to be precedent setting,” Ford said in a shaky voice during one of the debates.

“If we move ahead with this, then obviously if someone else steps out of line like I have, this is going to affect councillors and the mayor for years to come.”

In a statement, Ford’s lawyer provided some clarification as to the grounds on which the mayor would challenge council in court.

The motions could be seen “as an attempt to punish (Ford) for alleged personal conduct or as a symbolic statement of council’s intent to be doing something in response to it,” George Rust-D’Eye said.

Mayor Rob Ford in council on Friday, Nov. 15, 2013. (Chris Young/CP)

“There is no evidence before the council suggesting that the mayor has failed to exercise or abused his powers, or been unwilling or unable to fulfil them.”

Council, Rust-D’Eye said, could not act on “speculation or irrelevant allegations.”

Unbowed councillors, who have expressed increasing distress at Ford’s follies, nevertheless voted to strip him of his ability to appoint key committee chairs and his ability to exercise emergency powers. The motions were immediately adopted as bylaws.

The third motion, to be debated on Monday, would see his office and budget essentially moved to the control of the deputy mayor.

John Mascarin, a municipal law expert, said Ford faced an uphill battle if the matter does end up in court even if Rust-D’Eye raises a few arguable points.

“Council clearly has the authority to do what it has done,” Mascarin said.

“The city’s case is very clear.”

Any case to quash the bylaws — likely on the grounds council acted illegally or in bad faith — would be heard before Ontario Superior Court. Ford would also probably seek an injunction to put the bylaws on hold pending the outcome of the case, which could take many months.

Coun. John Filion said he was “extremely careful” with the wording of the motions, and said he was confident what council did was legal.

“Ironically, the mayor who had sort of divided everybody geographically and ideologically has now brought everybody together,” Filion said.

His colleague, Coun. Josh Colle, said councillors acted reluctantly but did so “because of the situation.”

A dissenting vote came from Coun. David Shiner, who questioned council’s action.

“It’s unfortunate council has taken away the authority of the electorate to respond and to allow the person who was elected to maintain his responsibilities or decide that he should be out of office,” Shiner said.

Ford has stubbornly refused to take a leave or resign since reports of a video surfaced in May showing him apparently smoking crack cocaine.

During a subsequent investigation, former staffers told police of his guzzling alcohol while driving, lewd and bizarre behaviour, and his consorting with suspected sex-workers.

Ford’s grip on his position took another serious body blow on Thursday when he made a crude sexual comment on live TV.

He initially refused to apologize, then, as his wife who seldom appears in public stood uncomfortably nearby, said he was sorry.

The mayor’s frat-house vulgarity drew wide condemnation from councillors, who literally turned their backs when he spoke during Thursday’s various debates.

Councillors Friday condemned the crack-smoking, binge-drinking, foul-mouthed mayor for his behaviour.

Ford’s conduct, which has garnered attention around the world, has spoken volumes and his public support has largely turned away, especially over the last few days, Coun. Denzil Minnan-Wong said.

“We need to protect the staff and we need to take away his power for the good of the city,” Minnan-Wong said.

Ford has said he was receiving unspecified support from a team of health-care professionals.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said council would have to make it clear it could not function as a result of the Ford scandal before she would consider action.


 

Toronto City Council votes to strip Rob Ford of some powers

  1. In the last election Ford received almost 50% of the ballots cast for the office of Mayor. He received just under 400,000 votes, possibly the highest electoral support ever received by a Toronto Mayor. One of those votes was mine and another of them came from my wife.

    On November 8 and November 9, 1923 a political event , now referred to as the Munich Beer Hall Putsch of 1923, took place in Germany. It was Hitler’s attempt to take over the Regional Government in Munich. The 90th Anniversary of that sad event was last week

    Since Toronto council has voted to disenfranchise me, I have no reluctance whatever in reminding these ridiculous people of the precedent being followed and asking them to explain their incompetence.

    Are these people such careless dumb bells that they can’t even remember their own Anniversary date?

    This is a very sad and possibly dangerous moment in the history of local government in Canada

    • Why does everyone on the internet have to compare things to Nazis?

        • Or in this case, just plain old historical fact

          The 42 bozos voting to take municipal power for themselves attacked and dis-enfranchised 396,161 Toronto citizens. Almost 400,000 people had their vote stolen including mine..

          It looks like November 8, 1923 to me Charlie.

      • Because in this particular instance, it’s the most apt historical comparison.

        Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.

    • All of the council were elected. The powers that are being removed are powers that were given to council through provincial legislation. The council delegated those powers to the mayor’s office. A democratic vote by the people’s representatives has rescinded the delegation of the powers to the mayor until the mayor’s office is fixed. Due process was followed, Ford was given a chance to address the motions in the council and vote. Democracy is flourishing in Toronto.

      • You twistin’ sumbich and your damn book learnin’ weasel words.
        Rob Ford is the mayor of the people!
        You don’t know what democracy is and I’m gonna sue your sorry ass!

      • No one is questioning any of that.

        The point is…there is no legal way to remove the mayor.

      • Unfortunately for you cheeky, and your flourishing democracy, The councillors who voted to remove legislative power from Mayor Rob Ford received fewer total votes in the last municipal election than did the Mayor and his brother.

        a) Mayor Rob Ford and his brother Doug received the support of 396,161 voters and citizens in the last election.

        b) The Gang of 42 voting against the Mayor received the aggregate support of only 384,027 voters.

        So if that’s your idea of flourishing democracy, it stinks.

        ..

    • Congrats, that might just have been the dumbest comparison I’ve seen on the internet all week.

      • Well squeaky, unfortunately for you, I made no comparison of any sort. I stated a cold hard fact.

        Sorry you think having a female wife is a “dumb” thing to do.

    • One of those votes was mine and another of them came from my wife.

      I suppose it was brave of you to stand up and say that, though probably also pretty humiliating for your wife.

      (Hey! Thematic resonance!)

      • Well, you won’t like it, but the nice thing about my wife is she’s a girl.