Chaos as Toronto strips mayor of powers

Agence France-Presse
The move effectively makes the chief magistrate of Canada's largest city and economic hub a figurehead – which Ford vowed to fight

LAME DUCK. In this file photo, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is swarmed by media at City Hall after City Council striped him of emergency management powers on November 15, 2013 in Toronto, Canada. Aaron Vincent Elkaim/Getty Images/AFP

TORONTO, Canada – Toronto city council voted Monday, November 18, to strip Mayor Rob Ford of most of his remaining powers in further sanctions against him following admissions of crack smoking and binge drinking.

The move effectively makes the chief magistrate of Canada’s largest city and economic hub a figurehead – which Ford vowed to fight.

“You are absolutely telling everybody that voted in the last municipal election that their vote does not count,” he said.

Comparing the council’s decision to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, he added: “Well folks, if you think American-style politics is nasty, you guys have just attacked Kuwait.”

Leading up to the vote, debate on the motion descended into farce as Ford taunted hecklers in the public gallery, calling them “punks,” and at one point accidentally bowled over a female councillor as he charged across the chamber.

The civic leaders of Canada’s largest city had already voted last week to curb Ford’s official duties and on Monday went further in order to “restore the confidence of the public in the government of Toronto,” according to the deputy mayor.

But Ford, who has apologized for his hell-raising lifestyle and for obscene public outbursts, has vowed to fight both in court and at the ballot box to keep his job.

“This is going to be outright war,” he said.

The mayor has faced a swell of outrage over a litany of misdeeds, both admitted and alleged, ever since police last month revealed that they have video footage showing him smoking crack.

Ford admitted he had smoked the illicit drug and apologized for his antics, including what he described as his many “drunken stupors.”

New allegations of misconduct, disclosed last week, and his lewd remarks in denying sexual harassment claims deepened the scandal, prompting widespread calls for his resignation.

Debate over the motion to curb the mayor’s powers was marked by rowdy outbursts and argumentative to-and-fro between councillors and Ford’s dwindling band of supporters.

Ford swung in his chair and pantomimed one councillor’s drinking and driving, and stood to confront hecklers in the public gallery.

At one point, Ford knocked a grey-haired female councillor to the floor when he charged across the chamber. She appeared rattled but uninjured as Ford, a former linebacker, broke off to help her to her feet.

Ford said he thought his brother Doug, who is also a city councillor, “was getting into an altercation.”

While council overwhelmingly voted to cut the mayor’s budget and staff, a few expressed concerns, saying it is “illegal and anti-democratic,” “craziness” and de facto removing the mayor from office.

“This is a modern-day overthrow of an elected official. This is wrong,” said the mayor’s brother Doug, who is also a city councillor.

Moments before the start of the emergency council meeting, the motion sanctioning Ford was slightly watered down, for fear it overreached.

In its aftermath, the mayor maintains a smaller office budget and a handful of minions, and keeps a seat on the city’s executive council.

As well, he can still attend official functions as Toronto’s mayor. The deputy mayor assumes most of his other responsibilities.

The prime minister’s office said it “does not condone illegal drug use, especially by elected officials while in office,” but added it would continue to work with Ford.

And millions were expected to tune in to a pre-recorded CNN interview with Ford, as well as the mayor and his brother hosting a talk show on Canadian television, airing at the same time.

Others praised the council’s unprecedented move.

“We have clipped his wings. His ability to do damage at city council now is curtailed,” summed up Councillor Joe Mihevc.

Over the weekend, Ford made the rounds of the US media to try to convey his side of the story, to general incredulity, and attended a Toronto Argonauts football game where fans cheered him on.

He maintained, however: “I’m not an alcoholic, I’m not a drug addict.”

Of his critics, he said: “The haters are going to be the haters.” –

Add a comment

Sort by

There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.