As the executive committee digs in for a marathon meeting, is the mayor even listening?

As the executive committee digs in for a marathon meeting, is the mayor even listening?

(Image: Alfred Ng from the Torontolife.com Flickr pool) 

Today, and possibly for several days to come, Toronto’s executive committee—the one that will be recommending cuts to city council this fall—will be listening to almost 300 deputants air their opinions about what should and should not be cut. Even if each person takes up only the three minutes they’re entitled to, and no councillors ask any questions, that amounts to an ungodly 15 hours of deputation. But there’s now a ton of evidence that almost all of those 300 deputants are wasting their breath.

This started at the beginning of this KPMG process, when Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong dismissed the surveys the city had conducted on service levels, saying they were “not statistically valid” and that the meetings were stacked with Ford critics. Earlier this week, Doug Ford responded to a reporter’s question about why more Ford supporters weren’t showing up at city hall by claiming the meetings had been stacked with union members and saying that “Ford Nation is too busy working, paying taxes, creating jobs.” He doubled down on his remarks this morning on 680 News, reiterating his accusation that the unions had brought out the Ford-critical crowds. Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti told the Toronto Star that “it’s always the same people, it’s people that have a clear interest in terms of how they’ve done business at the city,” which probably echoes what Doug Ford was saying.

So whether city staff gather the data or the deputants show up in person, those close to Rob Ford seem to be preparing to dismiss most of what people say anyway. Despite the mayor’s open invitation to come speak—and yes, Doug Ford did say on 680 that the mayor “wants the input”—it’s hard to believe that a lot of the people lining up in multiple rooms at city hall aren’t wasting their time. And while it’s not as though deputations have ever changed the world, we’re used to our leaders at least not dismissing them in advance. The next step: taking credit for the most exhaustive consultation in Toronto’s history when the cuts come to council in the fall.

Council girds for marathon as the people speak on budget cuts [Globe and Mail]
Doug Ford blames union ‘marching orders’ for public criticism [Globe and Mail]
Executive committee meeting could go more than 20 hours [Toronto Star]