Rob Ford is a model mayor for municipalities across Canada (no, really)

Rob Ford is a model mayor for municipalities across Canada (no, really)

Image: Christopher Drost

Apparently, cities across Canada still look to Toronto as a role model on certain municipal issues, particularly when it comes to Mayor Rob Ford’s recent attempts to cut the police budget. According to the Globe and Mail, which takes a long view of the protracted drama between Ford and police chief Bill Blair, if Blair gives Ford the 10 per cent budget cut he requested, it could set a precedent for cities across the country that are also looking to curb policing costs.

From the Globe:

Since 2000, police spending in Canada has ballooned by an average seven per cent a year, according to Statistics Canada—a figure that rivals health-care costs in terms of unrelenting growth.

That’s why the two men heading Toronto’s civilian police oversight board say they’ve taken such a hard-line stand with Chief Blair this year, arguing that the current budget battle isn’t just about a single year’s budget line, but about the ongoing ability of cities to pay for the increasingly onerous cost of public safety.

Numbers like that show that whether you’re in favour of or opposed to police cuts, they’re at least worth considering (although we can’t forget the mayor’s decision to raise police salaries earlier this year, a move that showed a remarkable lack of foresight).

But reasonable or not, we wonder if Ford has made the task of cutting budgets more difficult for himself by appearing to adhere to a simplistic, kind-of-crazy fiscal conservatism. Sure, the police budget may very well necessitate cuts; but now it’s all too easy for Ford’s opponents to spin any call for austerity as proof of the mayor’s radical right-wing ideology. Blair has instead chosen to beat the public safety drum, but it’ll be interesting to see if Ford’s ideology is used against him in future fights.

The budget versus the badge [Globe and Mail]