Council’s left bloc wins one against Ford, doesn’t know what to do next
Last night, while the rest of the media was focused on the national leaders’ debate, something interesting was happening at Toronto’s city council meeting. Don’t laugh; sometimes it happens. This time around, council was spared the image of jazz hands, but something just as fascinating took place: the council’s left actually won a battle against Rob Ford and his allies.
In one of his most significant defeats since taking office late last year, Mayor Rob Ford failed to rally enough votes to quash an amendment from nemesis Councillor Adam Vaughan that undermines key portions of a motion championed by the mayor’s right-leaning faction.
Mr. Vaughan’s amendment, which passed 24–19, sets minimum sizes for all municipal boards, commissions and corporations at 11 members, including at least three city councillors. It spoiled a motion spearheaded by the executive committee, a group heavily stacked with Ford loyalists, that would have shrunk the boards of several cultural organizations down to nine and trimmed the number of councillors on the city’s library board to one from three.
A hush of disbelief fell over council chambers after the vote as Mr. Ford and his brother, Councillor Doug Ford, huddled over a screen displaying the names of council members who sided against them.
Like a dog that finally catches up with the car he’s been chasing, the left-leaning bloc didn’t know what to do with their prize once they’d caught it. Specifically, Vaughan’s motion has a technical problem: instead of just applying to the boards they were trying to protect from mayoral stacking, Vaughan’s motion actually introduces councillors to the boards of every agency, board and commission (ABCs, in city hall lingo), including ones that didn’t have any councillors on the board before. The Ford caucus prevented the motion from being reopened and fixed.
Councillor Shelley Carroll told the Toronto Star that, because the motion doesn’t take effect until next year, there’s plenty of time for the motion to be fixed—that is, if the mayor’s allies let it get fixed.