TORONTO – Toronto Mayor Rob Ford may be feeling a chill coming from Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne’s office.
She appears to be freezing out the troubled mayor amid a scandal over his admission that he smoked crack cocaine and drinks to excess.
Wynne met Tuesday with deputy mayor Norm Kelly — the man who now wields most of Ford’s powers — to talk about transit and housing, saying it’s the beginning of a “good working relationship” with him.
Asked repeatedly whether she would meet with Ford in the future, Wynne said she’s meeting with Kelly because he’s the representative of city council.
“The relationship between the province and the city has to be with the city council where the decisions are made, and so that’s why I’m meeting with the deputy mayor,” she said after her half-hour meeting with Kelly.
“The ongoing relationship, the ongoing discussion, will be with the representative of city council, who is the deputy mayor.”
Kelly said it’s in both their interests to forge a good working relationship.
“I was looking forward to meeting with the premier to let her know that she has a stable, reliable partner going forward, that at city hall we now have a stable, calm and reasonable government that is looking forward to working with each other,” he said.
But Ford feels shut out, saying he asked Wynne for a meeting a month ago, but she didn’t take him up on it.
“So that’s fine. That’s their prerogative,” he said. “They can go ahead and meet. The last time I checked I was elected as mayor and that’s all I have to say.”
The troubled mayor wrote to Wynne on Monday, saying she should be talking to him instead of Kelly to discuss important matters, such as plans for a subway extension and “cuts to vital provincial funding.”
“However, I believe that it would be most appropriate for you to meet with the elected mayor of Toronto on these matters, which affect our city as a whole,” he said in the letter.
Wynne said she takes a lot of meetings with people who are looking to work with the province.
But the province has to work “with the people who are responsible for the decision making at the municipal level,” she said.
“We’ve always done that with Toronto and with all the municipalities,” she said. “We will continue to do that.”
Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak was mum on whether Wynne should meet with Ford as well as Kelly.
Ford has refused to step down or take a leave of absence, despite the international mockery his actions have brought to the city.
So city council, which can’t force Ford out of office, stripped the mayor of most of his powers.
Caught in the middle, the governing Liberals said they were concerned about the scandal surrounding Ford, but wouldn’t intervene.
However, Wynne has said she would consider offering “new tools” to Toronto if the city’s government decides it simply can’t function as a result of its scandal-plagued mayor.
The mayor’s troubles aren’t over. A judge has ordered that information on a police investigation into the mayor should be released.
Portions of the police document that were previously released disclosed allegations from former staffers that Ford was intoxicated at work, drank while driving and associated with suspected prostitutes — none of which have been proven in court.
The mayor has denied consorting with prostitutes and insists he is not an alcoholic or drug addict.
The document was filed in the drug case of Ford’s friend Alexander Lisi, though it mostly focuses on the mayor. Police launched the probe months ago to investigate allegations that a video showed the mayor smoking crack cocaine.
They later confirmed that they had the video, which prompted Ford to confess that he’d taken illegal drugs while serving as mayor.