2011 budget debate, day one: toilets, puppies and earnest appeals to Toronto’s better nature. No, really

2011 budget debate, day one: toilets, puppies and earnest appeals to Toronto’s better nature. No, really

Glenn De Baeremaeker and Gloria Lindsay-Luby admire a toilet at city hall yesterday  

After weeks of debate in the columns of Toronto’s dailies, and an occasional public consultation or four, city council got down to the business of voting on Rob Ford’s budget proposals yesterday—specifically, approving his property-tax freeze and the other, less headline-prone aspects of funding a $10 billion government. The morning was spent arguing over whether or not council would approve a tiny tax increase (0.17 percent) suggested by Gord Perks, a motion that was predictably and overwhelmingly defeated.

While city council meetings can get silly at the best of times, yesterday’s meeting may very well go down in the books as one of the silliest, featuring at various times:

  • An argument over the proper pronunciation of “macchiato”;
  • Giorgio Mammoliti calling out Jonathan Goldsbie, for some reason, and being forced to apologize;
  • The press gallery momentarily swooning over Denzil Minnan-Wong’s dog; and,
  • Glenn De Baeremaeker and Joe Mihevc joking about whether low-flow toilets were sufficient for a councillor who eats a lot of bran. (Yes, that happened.)

And we haven’t even mentioned the prop toilet.

About the only bright spot of yesterday’s meeting was, in the midst of arguing over Perks’s tax motion, Raymond Cho’s impassioned plea for council—though we suspect this may have been aimed at the new mayor and his allies—to think more about city building and less about “business principles.” Cho pointed out that if councillors had wanted to work in the private market, they could have done so instead of running for election. Weirdly, or perhaps not weirdly at all, Cho’s speech seems to have disappeared down the memory hole. None of the papers seem to have mentioned it. Democracy at work.

Chris Selley: The campaign that never ends [National Post]
Ford unfazed by looming budget hole [Globe and Mail]
Councillors shoot down bid to raise taxes [Toronto Sun]