“Party-free” politics at city hall, RIP

“Party-free” politics at city hall, RIP

It’s the kind of thing that will be buried three times before we all agree it’s dead, but this looks and smells like the death of “party-free” politics at Toronto city hall: according to the Toronto Star, Mayor Rob Ford has been giving his allies detailed, vote-by-vote instructions on matters both large and small. This didn’t start with Ford, but he’s taken it to a whole new level.

Says the Star:

When motions come up that aren’t covered on the instruction sheet, Ford’s team uses hand signals.

These types of pressure tactics aren’t new to city hall. It happened under David Miller, and it’s been happening under Ford since he took office in December. But the difference with the current administration is the brazenness in which it is done and the discipline Ford holds over his coalition.

A copy of Ford’s strategy sheet, which was obtained by the Star, reveals that the mayor is whipping his vote on almost every decision—not just key platform planks.

When we briefly looked at whether the mayoral candidates supported the idea of formal parties at city hall last year, the response was a unanimous no. What we have instead are informal parties, with a caucus whip in the person of Doug Ford, and party-line votes almost as severe as those seen in Queen’s Park or Ottawa. As the Star notes, two thirds of the votes at council this week were cast along almost the exact same lines, with only a little variation in the Ford/anti-Ford vote.

There are really only two steps left: first, some kind of strong cabinet solidarity, where we see members of Ford’s executive committee threatened with expulsion if they vote against him (see MP Michael Chong as one example) and then for everyone to drop the Weekend at Bernie’s–like charade and just adopt actual party names and leaders. Because the body that was Toronto’s party-free politics is starting to stink up the room, and we don’t think there will be a sequel.

• Ford hands out cheat sheet to his team [Toronto Star]