A day after Toronto Mayor Rob Ford was ordered out of office in a conflict of interest case, two members of council were critical of the defiance Ford showed in the face of the judge’s decision.
Coun. Denzil Minnan-Wong and Coun. Shelley Carroll appeared Tuesday on CBC Radio’s Metro Morning, one day after Justice Charles T. Hackland ruled that Ford’s council seat be vacated for violating the city’s conflict of interest rules.
Both councillors were disappointed at comments Ford made following the ruling. On Monday, Ford told a crowd of reporters gathered outside his office that the decision to remove him was the result of “left-wing politics.”
“I think it’s an unfair characterization to say the judge has a certain political agenda,” said Minnan-Wong. “I think that’s false and not entirely appropriate.”
“This is a man who has come through this consequence and his comment is still: ‘I’m not going to let people — and by people he means a court of law — tell me what I can and cannot do.’”
Carroll said the judge’s decision will hurt Ford politically. Minnan-Wong agreed but said a core base of Ford’s support will likely remain.
“This has hurt him, but there is still a substantial constituency out there who believes that he’s a victim and that still support his agenda,” said Minnan-Wong. “He has a pretty strong core, the real question is will he maintain that core if his intention is to run in 2014?”
Both Minnan-Wong and Carroll said Monday’s ruling will force every member of council to work harder and overcome an impression among many voters that the city has devolved into a partisan circus unable to deal with the business of governing Canada’s largest city.
Both said the city faces key issues in the coming weeks. A council meeting likely to span three days got underway Tuesday morning and the often gruelling budget process will begin later in the week.
“We have to redouble our focus on the business of the city,” said Minnan-Wong. “We, as a council, continue on. We have ... some really important issues coming up today.”
Carroll said councillors have to prove they can rise to the challenge in the wake of the Ford decision.
“I’m hoping that the sombre tone yesterday is an indication that people realize that this is serious and we’ve got to demonstrate that in this uncertainty, council can take hold,” said Carroll.
As for the question of who will wind up sitting in the mayor’s chair, both councillors told host Matt Galloway that they must allow the appeal process to unfold.
Minnan-Wong said the timing of any appeal Ford may file will likely determine whether or not the city should hold a byelection, should Ford not be restored as mayor after the appeal process is exhausted.
“It really depends on how much time is left in the mandate,” said Minnan-Wong. “If there’s a significant time left in the mandate, the pressure increases to serve democracy and go to the people.”