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For future reference: what Miller’s critics thought of a strong-mayor system

With Doug Ford’s recent musings about strengthening Toronto’s already strong-mayor system, we thought it might be worth digging up what some of Rob Ford’s allies (and one councillor who didn’t run in 2010) thought about David Miller using his strong-mayor powers after the City of Toronto Act came in to effect in 2006. Looking at the examples below, we can’t help but wonder how these people might react if Doug Ford’s proposals were to go through.

Toronto Sun columnist Sue-Ann Levy, 2008: “Miller and his arrogant, spendthrift NDP minions have been true to form -- licensing and taxing city residents with an almost delicious sense of glee and entitlement.” Also quoted in Levy’s column:

Michael Thompson: “The mayor’s office is running roughshod over pretty well everyone at City Hall ... the mayor is thin-skinned and vindictive.”

Karen Stintz: “By bullying and threatening and punishing people he thinks he can get his own way.”

Mike Del Grande, 2008: “He seems to be somewhat jealous of anybody else having an opinion, even if it’s a green initiative. He’s not too happy that someone else would jump the gun or bring something else in place… He’s a ruler, he’s not a leader.”

Michael Walker, 2007: After Miller booted Brian Ashton from his executive committee spot for voting against Miller’s budget proposals, Walker said “It is so partisan, ideological, so destructive. The only thing missing is the Roman salute, Hail Caesar.”

Walker’s quote is basically irrelevant now (he didn’t run in 2010), but it amused us through 2007 and 2008 when he was walking around using it to finish any and every interview he gave. (According to Royson James, Walker had a file labelled “Hail Caesar” in his office.) Whether their positions have remained totally consistent, or flipped to the preferences of the new mayor’s brother, we thought this information might be relevant for future debates about the power of the mayor in Toronto.

Amusingly enough, one person in all this who doesn’t want any more on his plate is the mayor himself, who reacted to Doug Ford’s veto proposal by saying, “I think my brother has been in Chicago too long.” In other words, Richard Daley-style politics seems to have rubbed off on Doug. Adrienne Batra, the mayor’s press secretary, says that the mayor is not looking for any changes in his powers. But as the above quotes show, it’s not hard for a mayor to make some enemies even with the powers Ford already has.

• Toronto needs strong mayor with veto power, Doug Ford says [Globe and Mail]

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