Off line for a couple days, I arrived back to find my various in-boxes filled with condolences over Mayor Ford’s appeal win on Friday.
Thanks for the kind thoughts, everybody, but nobody’s at all sad about the outcome around these parts. As we suggested Friday, we think it’ll be far more damaging to his political future if the mayor stays right where he is and continues to make such a hash of things. And nothing he’s said or done since the decision suggests he’s going to be doing anything differently now that he’s been removed from the legal hot seat.
I’m naïve enough to believe that our legal system is a functional one in most cases, and in this particular case it played out properly and objectively. I don’t have the knowledge to argue the nuances of the respective decisions. In a Spacing post today, John Lorinc points out some implications to the outcome that definitely should be taken into consideration by both the provincial and municipal levels of government in order to appropriately tighten statutes that will help uphold councillor conduct in the future
It was unfortunate to see supporters of the mayor successfully pollute the discourse with the dubious defense of a removal from office being somehow undemocratic, as if vote totals determined the degree to which a politician had to adhere to the rules and regulations. As if democracy and the law were separate entities. As if the rule of law wasn’t the very basis of democracy. Perhaps some civics lessons might be in order for Team Ford and various opinion makers covering the municipal beat.
But the mayor’s back and I wouldn’t hold my breath about any future court wrangling ousting him, including the long awaited results of his 2010 campaign finances audit, before our next, regularly scheduled election. Which is fine by me. Rather than spend time defending himself in court, I want him defending his record as mayor. After winning his appeal last week, Mayor Ford was big on stating that people are better off now than they were before he was elected. He claimed to be running the city better than any other administration has.
I’m looking forward to him having to back his hyperbole up. As we head into the nuts and bolts of casinos, I want Mayor Ford to explain how hosting one somewhere in the city the province wants to place it will replace other dedicated revenue streams coming into our coffers. Casinos Not Taxes Will Make Toronto Better!
With the new incoming premier, Kathleen Wynne, already talking about possible funding sources for long overdue public transit initiatives, I’m anxious to hear all about Mayor Ford’s “comprehensive transportation strategy”. Surely after more than 2 years in office, preceded by almost a year on the campaign trail, he must have something more than ‘Subways, Subways, Subways’, right? He can’t seriously believe he’s going to positively participate in the adult conversation going forward if all he’s still got is quotation enclosed catchphrases.
No, I’m very happy to have the mayor’s now where he is. I want him front and centre for the next 20 months or so, as the face of the malignant politics and policies that are anathema to healthy city building. He’s free to try and further his cause rather than be a martyr to it.
So, congratulations and welcome back from the precipice, Mayor Ford. You may find that your time in court proves to be much more of a walk in the park than the rocky road ahead from here to October 27th, 2014.
Trying to figure out my disappointment at the news that Mayor Ford won his appeal and will keep his job.
It wasn’t because I believed that if he’d lost, that would be the end of him. Far from it. Quite possibly, we’d be seeing a whole lot more of him – louder, more bombastic, more defiant — if a by-election followed and a campaign ignited.
Crassly, I think I’m disappointed because I was looking forward to the novelty of what might happen if he’d been tossed from office. Council intrigue and jockeying. Reappointment or by-election. Reappoint who? Who’d run against the mayor in a by-election?
Yeah. On days like today, I do think I am that shallow.
But the wheels of justice turned – and folks, if you embraced the ruling of Judge Hackland, you cannot dismiss the appeal judgement — and Mayor Rob Ford is still the mayor of this city. So, it’s back to business. At least until the release of the report on his campaign finances comes out sometime in the next little while.
Much was made in the lead up to today’s court decision of how, if the mayor was removed from office, we as residents of Toronto would get a chance at an electoral do-over. An opportunity to erase the mistake made just over two years ago. Fresh beginnings.
The same can now be said for Mayor Ford. Today he’s been reprieved. Given a second chance to reclaim the leadership role he’s fumbled so spectacularly over the course of the last year or so. Live and learn, so to speak.
There are two avenues open to him, as I see it. To walk down the nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah path, thumbing his nose at his opponents as he did when he first took office and went all Don Cherry on our collective asses. Emboldened by nothing more than narrowly avoiding a legal bullet and trumpeting Mandate, Mandate, Mandate. The People Gave Me A Mandate.
The same ol’, same ol’ in other words.
The same approach that lost him control of the transit file, the Port Lands, the budget process. Today’s ruling changes none of that. If Mayor Ford sees this as just another day, a mere bump in the road, he will still be very much a patch it together as he goes type of mayor with a fingers crossed and hope for the best approach to governance.
On the other hand, he could jump feet first into the leadership vacuum he’s created by his own behaviour and actually start acting like a mayor who needs to cobble together the solid support of at least 22 of his councillors and not just assume he has it because he’s the man. It doesn’t mean giving up his agenda or bowing down to special interests or vast left wing conspiracies. It simply means doing what has to be done to be a mayor in the city of Toronto.
If you see us here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke as nothing more than Mayor Ford haters, I know this will sound insincere and pure rationalization. So be it. Although that does make me a little sad. But I’m glad the mayor wasn’t tossed from office today. I treat the news I’m hearing of Clayton Ruby possibly taking this to the Supreme Court with the opposite of relish. Dis-mayo?
This city faces some huge challenges, discussions and decisions in the next little while. A new premier of the province. A casino. The release of Metrolinx’s thoughts on funding our Big Move.
It’d be nice not to have the distraction of a mayor fighting for his job in the middle of that. While some of that is now out of his control, he could still start chipping in productively, as a member of the elected body that oversees the well-being and direction of the city. He could try being an actual mayor of all Toronto for a change, see if it fits.
Through the window of the cafe in City Hall I spotted Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday standing out in the lunchtime chill in Nathan Phillips Square, patiently being interviewed by a television crew. Since the announcement of Judge Charles Hackland’s ruling in the mayor’s conflict of interest case, the deputy mayor has become the de facto face of the administration, issuing stay calm and proceed alerts as the city deals with an official leadership vacuum for the next couple months or so. Not Winston Churchill in the face of the blitz but still, strangely assuring.
I have an oddly dichotomous opinion of the councillor from and last mayor of Etobicoke. In person whenever we cross paths, he is extremely courteous and gracious, always nods and exchanges greetings with me. I’m fairly certain he has no idea who I am, what I do or why I’m always hanging around his place of work. But I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t matter if he did. Colleagues of mine who have regular dealings with him and share more of my politics than his tell me the deputy mayor always makes himself available and is gentlemanly and cordial.
But then there is the Grandpa Simpson side of Doug Holyday that makes regular appearances on council floor or in a committee room during heated exchanges. Little Ginny. Remember her? That poor neglected child raised by negligent parents in a downtown high rise, destined to die an early death when she’s relegated to playing in the traffic or shoots off the slide on her roof top playground and plunges 95 stories to a bloodied splat on the ground below.
Why, just this week, under pointed questioning from Councillor Janet Davis about the uniformly male, uniformly suburban make up of the members of the mayor’s two most powerful committees, Executive and Budget, going forward in the terms second half. Look, the deputy mayor responded, he’d welcome more downtown councillors, would love to have more women on the team, if only they could get with the program and set aside any independent thinking. When asked what his problem with entertaining more diverse opinions and views, he seemed nonplussed. Because… because DAVID MILLER! because BRIAN ASHTON! BRIAN ASHTON!!
In no way, shape or form could the deputy mayor be mistaken as anything other than a hardcore, fiscal conservative. No Red Tory is he. But it does seem that he is a more realistic assessor of the political situation in front of him. You don’t spend 125 years in politics, even politics in Etobicoke, and not know how to adapt to a change in the winds.
This is why I put forward the proposal that if Mayor Ford is really and truly put out to pasture, if his appeal in January to overturn Judge Hackland’s ruling falls upon deaf ears, that instead of plunging into a distracting and noisy by-election, city council designate the deputy mayor the actual mayor for the remainder of the current turn.
Believe me, this goes against every retributive instinct in my body. That scorched earth inclination to raze everything and anything reminiscent of Rob Ford’s time in office. A Northerner demands the South’s destruction not reconstruction.
Deep breath. Inhale. Exhale. Allow cooler heads to prevail.
Hear me out (and forgive me if any or all of the following suggestions contravene any statute of the City Of Toronto Act. I have not read it in its entirety. You see, back in the 1990s, my daddy was…)
There would be some serious stipulations in appointing Doug Holyday mayor. First, he could not run for re-election in 2014, using this appointment as a high profile platform. He might even consider this his municipal politics swan song.
Second, no coaching football or any equivalent activity to occupy his afternoons. Keep those crazy Kiwanis meetings to non-council meeting evenings, sir.
Third, a Mayor Holyday would remove Councillor Frances Nunziata from the Speaker’s chair, replacing her with the current deputy speaker, John Parker. Going forward, it’s important to restore a tone of civility and decorum during council meetings. Councillor Nunziata has proven herself incapable of providing such an environment during her tenure in the chair.
Next, a Mayor Holyday must share the job with council of completely overhauling the Striking Committee, appointing new members not because of their ideological loyalty but to reflect the diversity of council makeup. In turn, such a Striking Committee would consider other committee appointments based on the same principle of diversity and inclusion. To try and lessen the whole us-versus-them mentality that has laid siege to City Hall.
On many of the committees, I don’t think there’d be the need for major renovations. A tweak here and there. Maybe flip a vice-chair to chair to bring a more bipartisan look to the Executive Committee. Say, a Councillor Chin Lee or Gloria Lindsay Luby replacing Councillor Cesar Palacio as Chair of the Licensing and Standards Committee. Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon takes over for Councillor Norm Kelly as Chair of the Parks and Environment Committee.
There would be two deal-breaking change of appointments before Doug Holyday could take over as mayor. Both Councillor Mike Del Grande and Denzil Minnan-Wong must be relieved of duty from their respective committees. Along with Speaker Frances Nunziata, they are the most non-Ford divisive and destructive forces at council right now. To go forward with any hope of a constructive 2nd half of the term, these two – the Stadler and Waldorf of Toronto politics – must be relegated to where they belong. The backbenches of braying opposition where they’re only allowed to make noise and not a mess.
The final stipulation for a Mayor Holyday would the necessity of appointing a deputy mayor that was his polar opposite in political view, geography, gender and/or ethnicity. While I love the idea of a Deputy Mayor Janet Davis in a Mayor Doug Holyday regime, I think it would be ultimately unworkable, a sitcom in and of itself. So, how about a Deputy Mayor Pam McConnell? Yes, occasionally a Mayor Holyday’s head would explode in righteous indignation but, let’s be honest here. That’s going to happen regardless.
While the idea of such an unorthodox arrangement might run contrary to everything the straight-laced Holyday stands for, I think he could look upon this as his final and finest contribution to a long if not entirely distinguished career in public service. He could be the one who rose above partisan rancour to help heal the rift of a city divided. A grandfatherly figure dampening the heightened emotions of his unruly brood. Wisdom besting acrimony. Good will trumping ill.
And by reaching out this way, appointing the deputy mayor mayor, those currently in opposition in council would accomplish two things. The administration of a Mayor Holyday would be a tough one for Rob Ford or his brother to rail against during their 2 years in exile. The inevitable campaign to recapture the mayoralty would lack satisfying target to shoot at.
The move would also acknowledge that the voters’ will from 2010 is not being denied. Doug Holyday was Rob Ford’s choice for deputy Mayor. By making him Ford’s replacement, there is some continuity, a peace offering.
If nothing else, what Toronto needs at this point is a little peace.