Toronto Mayor Rob Ford compared himself to Kuwait and promised an “outright war” on Monday moments before city council voted to revoke several key powers of the mayor’s office.
“This, folks, reminds me of when ... Saddam (Hussein) attacked Kuwait. And President (George) Bush said, 'I warn you, I warn you, I warn you do not attack.' Well, folks. If you think American-style politics is nasty, you guys have just attacked Kuwait,” Ford said in a bizarre, extended diatribe that came at the end of a frenetic day at Toronto City Hall.
“And you will never see something, mark my words, friends. This is going to be outright war in the next election. I will do everything in my power to defeat you guys."
Council has already voted to remove some authorities from Ford and place them in the hands of Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly. The key motion passed on Monday was a decision to pull some $800,000 from the mayor’s budget and give it to Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly, who will be tasked with several new responsibilities.
The vote came at the end of perhaps the most chaotic day in the council’s recent history, as Ford continues to refuse to take a temporary leave of office to seek substance abuse treatment following admissions that he smoked crack cocaine and drove under the influence of alcohol, and after launching an obscene and abusive diatribe on live television.
On Monday, the mayor and his brother bullied, jeered and shouted down members of council and the public in attendance. The day was highlighted by Coun. Doug Ford engaging members of the public by shouting such insults as "punk" and "scumbag".
Members of the crowd shouted "shame, shame, shame" at the mayor.
Meantime, Ford led a personal security guard through the crowd, taking photographs of those in attendance, whom he described as socialists and NDP supporters. As chaos ensued, Ford charged through a crowd and knocked Coun. Pam McConnell to the ground. He was later forced to apologize for leaving the councillor with a fat lip.
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The special session of council was called in order to debate a third motion against Mayor Rob Ford that would limit his authority as mayor. City council passed motions last week that removed key decision-making powers from his hands.
Among the decisions made on Monday were revoking the mayor’s right to appoint corporation nominating panels and fill vacancies on civic appointment committees, appointing the deputy mayor as the head of the striking committee, cancelling the mayor’s ability to choose whether to speak to a council item first or last and removing the mayor’s ability to temporarily borrow funds.
The motion drastically pares back Ford's office budget to match that of a regular councillor and shifts the balance to the office of Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly.
Rob Ford has recently retained constitutional lawyer George Rust D'Eye to fight council's move to limit his authority. Ford has already vowed to take council to court over two previous power-limiting motions passed last week, one that removed Ford's authority in an emergency situation and one that froze his ability to hire and fire committee chairs. Those motions passed with near-unanimity.
Ford said he understood why council made the decision but that he still felt he had to take the city to court. “If I would have had a mayor acting the way I’ve conducted myself, I would have done the exact same thing. I’m not mad at anybody. I take full responsibility,” Ford said recently.
The Globe and Mail reported that Ford went on a spending spree ahead of the likely freezing of his finances, hiring a new assistant and giving raises to several Ford loyalists.
It is an interesting move from a mayor who claims to pride himself on fiscal restraint. Speaking of fiscal restraint, the bid to freeze Ford’s budget passed with ease. Only the fallout remains in question.
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