The Wrong Fight For The Wrong Reason

August 2, 2013

So the 5 Ontario summer by-elections are over, and the ruling Liberal party has been humbled vindicated ignored tickertapeand nothing has changed everything has changed oh, I’m sorry, there were by-elections at Queen’s Park.

The Liberals remain in power and voters are now demanding an immediate general election praying to god we don’t have to go through such a depressing experience again for at least a few months couldn’t care a less.

What we do know, here in this city is that Mayor Ford and his councillor-brother Doug campaigned hard did as much work as they normally do for the winning losing Progressive Conservative party candidate in Etobicoke-Lakeshore Doug Holyday in particular, and the provincial PCs in general. The Tories remain in opposition, emboldened deflated by the results of the by-election, in no more control of the situation in the legislature than they were before the campaigns began. The fate of the government is still in the hands of rewritingthe NDP Green Party who stunned everyone by winning all five by-elections yesterday.

As the Toronto Sun’s Don Peat pointed out, the mayor really made no friends with the Liberals over the course of the last month or so, despite having a mutual love of subways. He took shots at them at every opportunity and made awkward kissy noises with the NDP in a naked attempt to promote vote splitting in the non-Tory vote. You see, Mayor Ford is a dyed-in-the-wool Progressive Conservative. That’s his team. The original blue, folks.

Party Family comes first for politicians like Rob Ford. The job he was elected to do merely an outcome, a result of his politics. Besides, as we’ve learned over the course of the last 3 and a half years, the mayor much prefers campaigning to actually governing. There are no responsibilities like keeping your promises, no consequences to not doing so. It’s just about winning or losing. All so simple. Just like football. Or hockey.

But in this particular game, there are implications to the mayor so blatantly taking sides.

What now of the extra $400 million he’s looking to the province for to build his Scarborough subway? bloodsportWhat possible reason would they have to play nice with him? If they took it on the chin yesterday especially to the PCs benefit, I’m pretty sure the post-mortem isn’t going to be they were not Rob Ford-friendly enough. They lost because their own supporters failed to show up, unimpressed with many things but certainly none of them had to do with being too unfriendly to our mayor.

And if the Liberals weren’t knocked back on their heels? If Tim Hudak’s PC party didn’t step up and assume its predicted rightful position as government in waiting? If our mayor was capable of any sort of self-awareness, well, oops.

Not only did he get all in the face of the government at Queen’s Park to no particular end aside from them being Liberal, it’s not far-fetched to think the mayor’s also further entrenched divisions at City Hall. What self-respecting Liberal sitting on council could now honestly believe that it’s anything other than the mayor’s way or the highway in terms of working with him? This isn’t news but it certainly should be a reality by now.disloyal

Card carrying Liberal party member Peter Milczyn has voted along with Mayor Ford more than 32 other councillors. On almost 9 out of every 10 big ticket issues as tracked by Matt Elliott, Councillor Milczyn backed the mayor, and for what? He’s a great guy, been a great chair of the… Planning and Transportation Planning and Growth Management Committee but, the mayor still very, very visibly campaigns against him.

Frankly, had Councillor Milczyn previously shown any evidence of possessing a backbone, I’d fully expect him to tender his resignation tomorrow morning today as chair of the…. Planning and Transportation Committee and member of the mayor’s Executive Committee. Mayor Ford and his brother showed the councillor absolutely no respect, refusing to simply stand this one out to allow two strong allies to battle with no outside intervention from the Ford family. losingticketBut with the 2014 municipal election just around the corner and Ford Nation lurking somewhere in the weeds out there…

Toronto should feel as equally betrayed by Mayor Ford who put party allegiance before his duty to represent the best interests of the city he was elected to lead. He’s declared himself an enemy of the provincial government who doesn’t appear now to be going away anytime soon. Wrong horse backed, we’re now all going to be paying for our mayor’s losing bet.

to showly submitted by Cityslikr


An Ethical Leave Of Absence

July 25, 2013

Whenever a political dust-up occurs, a contretemps that leads to much partisan Did Not-Did So back and forth, I ask this question: didtooWhat 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. dougholydaypcPage 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. technicallyspeakingIt’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.

Regardless of your partisan political stripe, it’s something of an ethical quagmire, wouldn’t you say?splittinghairs

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.)

ignoranceisbliss

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