With the news the former budget chief won't be seeking re-election, a look back at his career through quotes.
On Saturday, Councillor Mike Del Grande (Ward 39, Scarborough Agincourt) announced through the Toronto Sun that he would not seek election for a fourth term. The curmudgeonly former budget chief announced his departure with characteristic gruffness, singling out left-wing councillors for criticism and earning praise from columnist Sue-Ann Levy for his commitment to parsimonious budgeting.
Del Grande was often critical of left-wing or downtown councillors, and frequently expressed his opinion that Scarborough did not receive a fair deal. More recently, he became critical of Mayor Ford’s notorious behaviour; he was the first councillor to turn his back to the mayor when his worship spoke in a November council meeting, and almost every councillor followed suit.
Over the course of his 11-year council career, Del Grande has been known for his outspokenness on fiscal matters and partisan divisions—and he’s also made some questionable statements about poverty and race. Here are eight quotations from his days in council:
“What’s happening here is a lot of the white people are moving out.”
—Del Grande worries about the changing demographic makeup of his ward in December 2004 as he gives a tour of a neighbourhood outside a Scarborough grow house.
“This mayor is not one that unites people. He has thin skin. Those that don’t agree with him aren’t going to last very long.”
—Del Grande on Mayor David Miller in April 2006, after then-budget chief David Soknacki announced he would not seek re-election.
“It was kind of humorous to see their heads explode.”
—Del Grande explains why he made a surprise motion to move $16.4 million in approved housing money from Regent Park to a development in Giorgio Mammoliti’s ward. He later justified his motion, which required a staff report, as a means of “throwing it” in the face of downtown councillors who were complaining about the lack of funding for social housing.
“We need firm discipline. I get a little concerned when we start making arguments about the widows and orphans. Negligibles add up. We cannot afford to do everything that everybody wants us to do…the 2011 budget is cupcakes. We tend to spoil everybody. We need to learn to say ‘no.’”
—Del Grande supports his position on discontinuing subsidies for residents to disconnect downspouts.
“Whoever took my pig, give it back…Don’t hurt piggy. We are willing to look at the ransom demands, but just remember we don’t have a lot of money here.”
—Del Grande’s piggy bank Mini Mike is stolen from the floor of council in June 2011. He had used it as a prop to remind other councillors about fiscal prudence, and had taken to shaking it when spending projects he opposed were proposed. The plastic pork chop was later returned to his desk, although the culprit was never discovered.
“I don’t support the way that’s funded because if we’re going to do breakfast in schools, to me personally, if you have children, you’re responsible for children. The nation is not supposed to be in the bedrooms of the people. But then when you come out of the bedroom and you have children, why is it the state’s responsibility to look after your children? I didn’t tell you to wear a condom or not wear a condom or how many children, you made that decision.”
—In August 2011, Del Grande tells constituent Hakim Kassam why he opposed $400,000 in funding for the City’s student nutrition program.
“‘If you cannot derail the message, derail the messenger.’ That is the essence of the continuing harassment of Mayor Rob Ford by certain journalists and media outlets in this city.
…What people often don’t realize is, even when proved wrong, the media are reluctant to say, ‘We made a mistake.’ Our mayor was elected because voters perceived him as a simple guy, the people’s mayor, who would clean up City Hall.”
—In a November 2011 Toronto Sun op-ed, Del Grande defends Rob Ford from what he perceived as unfair media criticism.
“I know the mayor is not truthful…He believes his own lies, and sometimes he loses track of his own lies.”
—Mike Del Grande on Ford’s truthfulness in a Toronto Sun interview about his planned departure.