Whenever a political dust-up occurs, a contretemps that leads to much partisan Did Not-Did So back and forth, I ask this question: What if the party/politician you don’t support were to do the exact same thing the party/politician you do support did? Would you be cool with that, shrug it off as being all part of the game, yo?
So Conservatives pulling for Doug Holyday in the Etobicoke-Lakeshore provincial by-election, you’d be easy-peasy if the city’s “on unofficial leave of absence” Deputy Mayor’s opponents in the race did the same thing? Just called up the city’s waste collection company and asked for one of their trucks to swing by for a campaign photo-op? Totally fine, yes?
“… when the deputy mayor calls and asks for a truck, we supply it,” said Green For Life’s chief executive, Patrick Dovigi.
I am trying very hard to avoid stinky-garbage language here but that statement alone should set off alarm bells to anyone concerned with political propriety and rule bending. Page 7 of the Integrity Commissioner’s Code of Conduct for City Councillors contains 3 violations the Deputy Mayor may have committed using the garbage truck as part of his campaign. (h/t Jude MacDonald). VI, Use of City Property, Services and Other Resources. VII, Election Campaign Work. VIII, Improper Use of Influence.
But Conservative defenders were quick to point out that since Green For Life is a private company, contracted out by the city to pick up garbage, it’s all good. No harm, no foul. Technically speaking, this isn’t a technical breach of conduct by the technically (maybe) on leave of absence deputy mayor.
From Article VI, “No member of Council should use, or permit the use of City land, facilities, equipment, supplies, services, [bolding ours] staff or other resources (for example, City-owned materials, websites, Council transportation delivery services and member of Council expense budgets) for activities other than the business of the Corporation.”
Waste collection is a service Green For Life provides to the city, isn’t it?
From Article VII, “No member shall use the facilities, equipment, supplies, services [bolding ours] or other resources of the City (including Councillor newsletters and websites linked through the City’s website) for any election campaign or campaign-related activities… No member shall use the services [bolding ours] of persons for election-related purposes during hours in which those persons receive any compensation from the City.”
Again, if Green For Life isn’t delivering a service to the city, what exactly are we paying them for?
From Article VIII, “No member of Council shall use the influence of her or his office for any purpose other than for the exercise of her or his official duties.”
“When the deputy mayor calls and asks for a truck, we supply it.” That seems like a pretty straight forward ‘use of influence’, doesn’t it?
Unless of course you want to argue that Doug Holyday’s campaign staff called Green For Life as representatives of a provincial candidate not the deputy mayor. It’s just unfortunate Mr. Dovigi didn’t say that when a candidate running for provincial office asks for a truck, they’re happy to oblige. But he didn’t. “When the deputy mayor calls and asks for a truck, we supply it.”
But hold on, the deputy mayor PC candidate for Etobicoke-Lakeshore defender’s say, it’s not as if anyone pulled a truck off collection duty for the deputy mayor PC candidate for Etobicoke-Lakeshore. It just magically appeared at no cost whatsoever to the company, I guess. Free gas, free of charge for the person driving it.
Let’s chalk it up to a campaign donation from a private company to a provincial candidate who just so happens to also be the city’s deputy mayor. He’s also the politician who helped spearhead waste collection contracting out, first as the former mayor of Etobicoke and then as deputy mayor of Toronto. Contracting out that, ultimately, benefited the company supplying their garbage truck as a campaign prop.
We’ve come to expect such lapses in judgement from the mayor but until he decided to enter the by-election race, Doug Holyday had a straight-shooting, no bullshit reputation when it came to using taxpayer money even for legit reasons like office budgets.
“Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday said regardless of whether Ford pays for fuel, city vehicles should be used for city business alone.” This from a Toronto Star article last fall in response to Mayor Ford’s staff using city vehicles to attend Don Bosco football practices. To now defend the deputy mayor’s use of a Green For Life garbage truck during his provincial campaign as different because it’s not a ‘city vehicle’ seems like mendacious hair-splitting.
All this coming less than week after the Integrity Commissioner’s annual report to city council. Never mind the backtracking now in progress to justify the deputy mayor’s actions on this. How could he stand in front of a truck his staff had ordered up, festooned with the City of Toronto logo, to make a campaign speech and not for a moment think to himself, something about the optics here smell? (There. My one garbage reference.)
And how can anyone, beating the drum of ethical bad behaviour on the part of the provincial Liberals, look at this circumstance and shrug? It’s no gas plant boondoggle, costing the taxpayer hundreds of millions of dollars. As if ethics are simply about the amount of money involved and not the conduct it engenders.
— demandingly submitted by Cityslikr