10 November 2013

Toronto mayoralty

                                           His Worship Rob Ford, 64th Mayor of Toronto

                                              "What to do with a drunken mayor?"

                                                (The Economist, 9 November 2013)

                                                                He is a thug!

City Council, in a motion that passed 37-5, asked the recalcitrant mayor to take a leave of absence. They are powerless! Councillors also voted in favour of a request to the integrity commissioner to study the mayor's conduct, and to recommend possible penalties and sanctions. The province, which has powers, is meanwhile doing nothing. Organizers of the impending Santa Claus parade asked the mayor not to march. Pride need not worry about that presence, thankfully.
[13 November 2013]

Finally Premier Kathleen Wynne, hitherto virtually silent, has cautiously indicated that the province might act to correct the chaotic situation at Toronto City Council. As reported by ctv news:

Wynne said that if Toronto City Council were to indicate that it lacked the ability to function because of the ongoing scandal, the province would respond to a request to provide “new tools, depending on what that request may be. ... Events continue to move quickly and the things that we are hearing and seeing about Mayor Rob Ford are truly disturbing,” Wynne said. Wynne didn’t specify what exactly the province could do if Council asked it to step in. She did say if any action were to happen, “because of the extraordinary and unique nature of any intervention from the province, I would consult with the other party leaders to see if the Legislature could move unanimously if required. 
[14 November 2013]

While Council can't remove the mayor from office, it can move to reduce and severely restrict many of his civic functions. There are signs that may happen swiftly. On 15 November 2013 Council moved to reassign the mayor's right to designate and participate in committees, to hire and assign employees, and even to act in emergencies. The actions would devolve on the office of the deputy mayor. It is proposed as well to cut back on the budget of the mayor's office.

While Council can not touch what may be viewed as the mayor's statutory role under the City of Toronto Act, 2006 (S.O. 2006, c. 11), the mayor is scarcely visible in wording of the legislation. In an annex, it states:

The purpose of this Act is to create a framework of
broad powers for the City which balances the interests of
the Province and the City and which recognizes that the
City must be able to do the following things in order to
provide good government: 
      1. Determine what is in the public interest for the City. 
      2. Respond to the needs of the City. 
      3. Determine the appropriate structure for governing the City.  

The role of the mayor is seen more clearly in wording of the Municipal Act, 2001 (S.O. 2001, c. 25) — while the mayor's role is largely that of representation and to some extent leadership, the head of council has actually no more powers than any other councillors.

Mayor of Toronto lost most of his remaining powers to appoint and to set agendas. His office budget was cut back. Most functions have been transferred to the Deputy Mayor who has agreed to accept them. [18 November 2013]

                                        L'Actualité [16 novembre 2013]

The dilemma of Toronto’s mayor makes me reflect on the utter permissiveness of Canadian democracy at times. I know how a Putin-style régime would deal with the situation. In the US there would be a recall. In France a juge d’instruction would be on the case. Toronto citizens who continue to support Rob Ford are as problematical as he is. 
6 January 2014