Rob Ford, Figurehead: Rounding up the weirdest events at Monday’s very weird city council meeting

Rob Ford, Figurehead: Rounding up the weirdest events at Monday’s very weird city council meeting

(Image: Christopher Drost)

When Rob Ford became mayor in 2010, it was an unlikely ascent for an avowed council contrarian. In a series of humiliating votes in today’s packed special council meeting, Ford’s colleagues did something even more unlikely: effectively returned him to his position as a lone wolf councillor. Here’s how it all went down.

Today’s meeting had even more shouting, laughs and drama than Friday’s, when all of council—save Rob and his brother Doug—first began stripping the mayor of his duties. At one point, the mayor appeared to charge a spectator at city hall, accidentally knocking over councillor Pam McConnell and giving her a fat lip. He was also rebuked for making mocking drinking and driving gestures at councillor Paul Ainslie, who received a warning from police at a spot check this spring. (Never mind that Ford admitted last week to being tipsy behind the wheel.) The public gallery chanted “Shame! Shame! Shame!” at the mayor and shouted questions at him about the crack scandal and swirling allegations. Doug Ford yelled back at one onlooker, “You’re the scumbag!” and Ford managed to work a plug for his new TV show as well as a bizarre reference to Desert Storm.

Under provincial law, council cannot revoke Ford’s roles as head of council and a city representative at public events. However, today’s motion puts pretty much all his other powers in the hands of Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly, including:

  • Ford’s $1.9-million office budget. He now gets about 40 per cent of that, or $712,000. Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly will administer the remainder.
  • Most of his staff. The budget cut would bring the mayor’s staff of 20 down to about eight. However, each staff member currently working for Ford can choose to stay on if they’d rather not transfer to the deputy mayor’s office. Either way, Kelly is responsible for hiring and firing.
  • His position as chair of the executive committee. The chairmanship, along with all of the mayor’s other power and duties not protected by statute, are transferred to Kelly.
  • His right to sit as a member of any council committee. Ford can no longer show up for any committee meeting to tip the scales on a close vote.

Ford characterized the entire meeting as “nothing more than a coup d’état” and promised to take legal action against the individual councillors who voted to remove his powers today (to that end, he hired veteran municipal lawyer George Rust-D’Eye on Wednesday). He added, “This is going to be outright war at the next election…what goes around comes around.” Doug Ford’s rhetoric was even more bombastic: “This is what you see in Third World Nations … we’re talking about a Third World Nation overthrow here,” he said. “I ask the city of Toronto to rise up.”