Toronto’s City Council in a Power Struggle With Mayor Ford
In Toronto, controversial Mayor Rob Ford has found his situation going from bad to worse. Ford, who has refused to resign from office despite recently confessing to recreational crack use, might be starting to feel like he’s losing a game of political chicken.
Ford vs. Toronto City Council
In an unprecedented maneuver designed to restrict Mayor Ford’s oversight and governing power, Toronto’s City Council voted to in favor of certain limiting measures. He will no longer be in charge of emergency situations, and is not permitted to appoint or dismiss chairs of committees.
Ford has adamantly challenged the council’s actions, and vowed to prove a costly opponent in court. In the same breath, he promised that he’s “not mad” with those people who would be involved in drawing out the consequences of his scandalous confession.
Not a black-and-white issue
Not everyone on the council feels these extreme measures were justified. Some called it a mutiny that sets a “dangerous precedent.”
“If you win an election for mayor, you are the mayor,” one councillor observed. Similar observations have been met by the council with laughter and indifference, even serious questions about the council’s legal authority.
Councilman Doug Ford, the mayor’s brother, has been a vocal, if obvious, dissenter to the council’s general direction. Talking to CNN, Councilman Ford emphasized that such decisions were meant to be made by a vote of the people, and decried the media bias which has cast his brother in a severe and unfavorable light, insisting that the mayor does not have a drug problem.
Council members respond to criticism
In response to accusations of reckless power grabbing, one councillor called the motions “sadly … warranted and necessary.”
The two motions, approved by 39-3 and 41-2 votes respectively, left Mayor Ford with minimal political powers. The first stripped Ford’s power of appointment and dismissal, leaving him impotent in matters involving policy where committee chairs hoping to keep their seats traditionally function as mayoral lackeys.
The second and more symbolic motion dis-empowered Ford during emergencies and crises; generally, crisis responses are made collectively.
Last week the council had voted 37-5 in favor of asking Ford to take a leave of absence. The next day, when Ford addressed the council, the members literally turned their backs on him.
Mayor Ford and Toronto’s future
As bad as things got for Ford last week, they may grow worse as the council continues to strip the mayor of duties not specifically assigned to him by statute. Mayor Ford may find himself with a lot of time on his hands.
While Ford currently faces no legal action, criminal charges, including marijuana possession and trafficking are in the works against Ford’s driver. Ford himself has also been accused of sexual harassment, soliciting prostitution, and driving drunk.
After months and months of comparatively boring scandals involving the offenses of sub-prime mortgage lending criminals and “banksters,” a good old-fashioned political drama is definitely cleansing to the gossip palate.
Still, residents of Toronto are hopeful that for the remainder of the year, their city government can get back to the job of governing.