Likely suffering from a case of the Mondays, Rob Ford chooses the path of least resistance
Library lovers can rest a little easier, at least for now. The Globe and Mail reported this morning that library closures and cutting 2,000 subsidized daycare spaces are off the table as ways of addressing the city’s budget shortfall. The news comes following what was likely one of the worst weeks thus far for the Rob Ford administration: polls revealed his support is drastically dwindling among the city’s taxpayers citizens and his grand plans for the waterfront took a steady beating.
The Globe has the story:
Talk of closing branches and cutting services and hours has been met with widespread public opposition, most notably from author Margaret Atwood who got into a verbal sparing match with the mayor’s brother, also a city councillor, after he said he would shut a branch in his ward “in a heartbeat.”
About 2,000 subsidized daycare spaces that do not receive provincial funding also will be preserved for as long as the current users are in them, Mr. Minnan-Wong said. “Anybody who has a spot will maintain that spot,” he said, adding that the city will continue to press the province for additional funding and will look for greater involvement from the private sector.
Libraries and daycare were two of the issues that prompted the loudest public outcry and the most dissent on council when news broke regarding what services were set to be on the city hall chopping block. So, it would appear that perhaps the Ford administration is slowly becoming more responsive to public opinion. However, there are also a great many reasons to doubt Ford and co.’s commitment to public consultation and dialogue. For instance, consider that just this weekend, Doug Ford suggested that the media frenzy over the Port Lands somehow constituted public consultation (um, really, Doug?).
The timing of this news is also important. The mayor and his executive committee are currently staring down the barrel of a marathon meeting chalked full of public deputations, just like the one it was forced to endure in July. Of course, the executive shouldn’t be surprised that 300 people signed up to speak: extensive cuts will yield extensive opposition.
And so perhaps the public filibustering and council’s change of heart have lead the mayor to—at least temporarily—choose the path of least resistance. That said, there’s good reason to take the news with a grain of salt: libraries could still see reduced hours. Moreover, the mayor’s decision is more likely the product of political convenience, rather than some larger epiphany regarding the value of public services.
• Council preview: Vaughan would prohibit Ford from excluding the Star [Toronto Star]
• Ford support plummeting, poll suggests [Toronto Star]
• Ford ally joins experts in rejecting his Port Lands plan [Toronto Star]
• Toronto Mayor Ford to retreat from controversial cuts [Globe and Mail]
• Rob Ford’s bad week at Toronto City Hall [Globe and Mail]