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Kathleen Wynne: Provincial Government Would Consider Giving Council New Powers to Deal with Rob Ford, If Asked

Premier says Toronto must be able to run itself, but might give council greater decision-making powers to cope with the mayor.

Premier Wynne at this afternoon’s press conference.

There is a very small number of ways that Rob Ford could leave office. He could resign, which he has consistently refused to do. If he misses three consecutive council meetings without leave from his colleagues that would also count, but like the resignation he is refusing to consider time off. And if he is convicted of a crime and sentenced to serve time in jail, that would do it too.

Not many options, and none likely to happen before the next election. But today Premier Kathleen Wynne indicated that should city council turn to the province and ask for a way out of its current mess, her government would consider giving council new powers that would enable it to remove the mayor from his seat. (Since that government is a minority she would need the agreement of at least one other party.)

The full text of her statement follows:

As I have said from day one, we have been watching this situation closely and listening carefully. Events obviously continue to move quickly. The things we are seeing and hearing about Mayor Rob Ford are truly disturbing. Yesterday, City Council voted to request the mayor take a leave of absence.

As Premier of Ontario, the principles that are guiding me on this issue are as follows:

One, the City of Toronto has a mayor and council that were elected by the residents of Toronto and must be accountable to them. It is up to the municipal level of government to address the issues they face. It is not the provincial government’s role, nor its intention to impose its preferences upon that government.

Two, Toronto City Council has to be able to function.

Three, if council were to clearly indicate that they lack the ability to function as a result of this matter, the province would respond to a request from council to be provided new tools, depending on what that request might be.

Four, because of the extraordinary and unique nature of this type of intervention, I would consult with the other party leaders to see if our legislature could move unanimously if required.

The last thing this terrible situation needs is a layer of partisan politics. Within Ontario’s legislature and across this city, we all have to stand together to represent the best interests of the people.

At every level, your government is here to serve you.

Toronto is a great city in an amazing province. We have a proud history and a bright future.

Toronto is greater than one politician or one government. Ontario is greater than one politician or one government.

I understand that people are affected by what is happening at this moment.

But I want the people of Toronto to know that we will not be defined by this.

And we will all work together to ensure the people’s interests are served.


  • Tedhealey

    So… “Come at me, brother!”

  • ByronK

    So, “let’s get it on”.

  • MostlyCivil

    And if they ask for help, Hudak has to decide which side to support. It’s a trap!

    • OgtheDim

      Yes, Timmy would actually have to have an opinion. Likely, he’d say the opposite of whatever the Libs came up with.

  • emeraldeyes24

    Get it DONE, Premier!! Stop sitting on the fence – this has nothing to do with politics – it has everything to do with the integrity of this fine city and us, the citizens! Your actions could be the deciding factor in whether or not I vote NDP or Liberal in the next election. Rob Ford is a sick man, someone who has proven himself to be a disastrous detriment to the city. He ran on a platform of austerity, yet he is the biggest waste of tax dollars and now entire council meetings revolve around HIM when there are far more pressing issues to be addressed. A remedy needs to be made NOW!

  • Dogma

    As ugly as this is, I don’t think the province should wade into it. Toronto should sort out its own mess.

    But if the province does get involved, Wynne is entirely correct to say the other parties have to be onside. That means Hudak and Horwath have to come out and say publicly that they support the move. No namby-pamby abstaining from the vote and then using the province’s interference as a partisan club to hit Wynne with later on.

    • HotDang

      That might interfere with the conservative policy of blaming everything ever on Dalton McGuinty and Kathleen Wynne.

    • dsmithhfx

      I reckon in the past couple of days, Rob and Doug have set Hudak’s campaign strategy on its ear. These two are utterly toxic to conservatives, but they should have spotted it within weeks of Rob taking office, if not well before. I’d be very, very surprised if Hudak had not been briefed waaay back on Rob’s extra-curricular drugs & booze activities, and most of Rob’s supporters in council were eye-witnesses to his monkeyshines as a councillor.

    • 2mon

      It’s not about the province stepping in; It’s about giving municipalities more tools to deal with situations like this.
      It’s absurd that nothing sort of a criminal conviction can remove a mayor from power under the current system.

      I get that the people voted him there. The province could simply give Council the authority to call an interim mayoral election, to put the question back to the people. Obviously there would be a cost to an election but that should be well within Council’s power to make a decision on that front.

      • Paul Kishimoto

        Can Torontoist talk to some legislative expert on what this might look like?

        For instance, they might pass some bill that responds to a specific request from Council to call a mayoral election just this once; or they could amend the Municipal Act (in which case it would apply to all cities) or the City of Toronto Act. In order to prevent new power from being used lightly, there could be a requirement for a supermajority of Council, or unanimity, or perhaps a recall petition signed by some number of voters, etc. etc.

        • blearghhh

          I’m not a legislative expert, but here’s my guesses:

          Wynne said she wanted unanimous consent for this. First so that she can say that it’s non partisan since nobody voted against it, but probably more importantly because she would want something that doesn’t take time in the legislative calendar from things that the Liberals actually want to do. They can only do so much in any one legislative session, so adding something would invariably take something off. With unanimous consent, something could go through the process in as little as 30 minutes, like the TTC back to work legislation a few years back. No booting anything from the order paper.

          So, if it was going to be a special act, fast tracked through the leg, there is no way they’d want to do anything other than something very narrowly defined and applicable to only this single situation. While they may decide to change the municipal act/CoT act to make removals possible, they would want to have the lawyers do consultation and research on the precise wording and effects on other legislation, do all three readings in the leg, go through committee, the whole process of developing and refining legislation that needs to happen before anything goes forward. That of course would all require that the cabinet decides to put it on a priority list for development. Even just going out and having consultation with all the stakeholders (400+ municipalities across the province) would take upward of a year.

          So yeah, going to be something saying that the current mayor is fired, and that the legislation expires as soon as that happens, so it’s not littering up the current statutes.

  • OgtheDim

    Hudak would sit on the sidelines waiting to see what the NDP would say.