Overflow seating for today’s Executive Committee meeting, set up in the City Hall rotunda. Photo by Hamutal Dotan/Torontoist.
Something remarkable happened in the last 24 hours at City Hall. Against precedent, expectation, and circadian rhythms, hundreds of Torontonians stayed up last night, all night, to have their voices heard at City Hall. They did this knowing that the mayor, who was chairing the epic Executive Committee meeting about a long list of budget cuts the City is considering, wasn’t inclined to be convinced. They did this after the mayor’s brother, Councillor Doug Ford (Ward 2, Etobicoke North), proclaimed “Ford Nation is too busy working, paying taxes, creating jobs,” to come and depute at City Hall.
This left—who?—the lazy and unemployed, in Doug’s estimation, to address the seat of government in Toronto.
If the intention in deciding to keep the meeting running overnight was to wear the deputants out, thin their numbers, and otherwise mitigate the opposition to the service cuts council will soon decide on, it backfired. Residents weren’t having it. Of the approximately 200 who spoke, just three encouraged any kind of service cut; the rest said some form of “raise my taxes, but keep our City intact.”
It is too soon to tell what effect last night will have on Ford’s mayoralty. But it is not too soon to say: this was an unprecedented show of of engagement at City Hall—literally, the longest meeting on record. It will prove a watershed in the collective memory of grassroots activists in Toronto. Not because they did such a good job organizing that they got people to the meeting, but because so many of the deputants had never come to City Hall before, never spoken at a meeting, much less stayed up all night to do so. Because when the committee voted to cut their speaking time, they stayed. Because when the meeting hit its 12- and then its 20-hour mark, they stayed. Because new people kept arriving, even at 3 a.m. Because they brought pies and coffee and mouthwash for those who had been at City Hall all day. It was the most important slumber party held in Toronto in years.
And Ford Nation, though invited, declined to attend.
To read a full recap of the Executive Committee meeting, head right here.