Rob Ford’s mysterious meeting schedule released only to reveal something everybody already knew anyway
The recent release of a copy of Mayor Rob Ford’s meeting schedule confirmed something we—and everybody else—already suspected: city council is deeply divided along what are essentially party lines. The documents, which the Toronto Star obtained through a Freedom of Information request, revealed that while the mayor met with council allies more than 20 times between February and June of this year—often visiting their wards to discuss local issues—he had precisely zero meetings with any of his left-leaning colleagues on council. Of course, we’re not exactly surprised by this black and white demonstration of partisanship, and it certainly works both ways (Adam Vaughan’s comments proved particularly choice in that regard). But the more the tenor of the politics at 100 Queen West resembles that of the politics at Queen’s Park and Parliament Hill, the more ridiculous it seems to uphold the notion that city hall is actually a non-partisan chamber.
Ford, whose reputation for zealously pursuing solutions to residents’ small-scale problems helped propel him to victory, has continued his legendary constituency work as mayor. He makes house calls throughout the city, sometimes irritating local councillors by declining to inform them he is doing so, and regularly accompanies his allies on ward visits.
According to a list of his recent meeting partners, however, he rarely or never accompanies his critics.
While political parties are officially banned at the municipal level in Toronto, their existence behind the scenes is a widely accepted fact, and the Rob Ford era appears to have hardened the battle lines between factions. We’re not going to spend too much time lamenting the lack of cooperation and bipartisanship—it is what it is—but we do wonder if all these back room alliances might mean that it’s time to consider following in the footsteps of Toronto’s civic neighbours in Montreal and Vancouver and embracing a formal system for political parties at the municipal level. The obvious danger is that the local chamber would move even closer toward the fiercely partisan politics that characterizes the provincial and federal levels—but, really, more formalized political parties would probably just shed light on a structure that already exists anyway.
(Images: Giorgio Mammoliti, Cesar Palacio and Chin Lee—Toronto.ca)