Archived columns and blog posts by Matt Elliott

City Council Scorecard: council finds peace on the field, but remains divided on labour

Toronto Council Scorecard
April 15, 2012: Google Docs (Best View) – Download (PDF) – Download (PNG)

Last week's council session was one of the most uneventful meetings of the Rob Ford mayoralty. Things have felt quieter in general since councillors concluded their debate on transit. Upcoming committee meetings have light agendas, and most eyes at City Hall this week are turned to the mayor's weekly weigh-in, where scantily-clad lettuce girls are set to show up and attempt to convince the mayor and his brother to embrace the vegan lifestyle.

Still, the gears of government grind on. In addition to the usual gaggle of items – most of which pass unanimously and without debate – council last week dealt with two issues that got a great deal of ink: proposed new user fees for city sports fields and the issue of contracting out cleaning services at city facilities.

The latter added up to your standard Ford-era council kerfuffle: politically charged, bitter and loud. The former, however, was the opposite: a rare and welcome example of this council coming together to unanimously right a wrong.

The votes added:

CC22.6, Motion 1 – moved by the mayor himself – waived proposed 2012 fees for sports fields and asked for a report and consultation on implementing new fees in 2012. It made a lot of people very happy, and justifiably so. I scored this as a 'consensus' decision, the same as last September's port lands vote. That means it doesn't impact anyone's Ford Nation percentage. This could have easily been a slam dunk victory for the mayor, but as his former press secretary noted yesterday, Ford failed to “get out in front” of the issue. Widespread reports name progressive councillor Janet Davis as the one who brokered the deal.

Still, this is an example of the kind of compromise we'd like to see a lot more of. The item passed unanimously, with four absent. The mayor had to leave the chamber before the vote because he injured his back throwing eggs at children. I'm being serious.

GM12.21, Motion 3, Part 3, on the other hand, was a vote like most others we've seen thus far in 2012. A group of like-minded councillors, branded as leftist socialists or whatever, overruled the will of the mayor and made it so cleaning services at city facilities cannot be contracted out to private sector bidders without council oversight and approval.

Far from being a huge win for union leaders, it's more accurate to think of this motion, moved by Councillor Ana Bailão, as fixing an odd bit of governmental procedure: why shouldn't council get to review contracts before they're handed over to outside bidders? Is oversight by elected officials suddenly a bad thing? Part 3 of this motion – the part that mattered most – passed 26-15, with the remainder passing even more handily.

A relatively quiet month sees few changes to the scorecard. Most notable would be Councillor Josh Matlow, who finds himself teetering precariously on the edge. He'll lose his status as a statistical “mighty middle” councillor should he vote against one more big-ticket item supported by the mayor.

Meanwhile, Councillor Jaye Robinson creeps back up toward Team Ford status. She remains an eternal wildcard.

This post was originally published at on 2012-04-16T00:00:00.000Z

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Matt Elliott

City Hall watcher, columnist and policy wonk in Toronto.
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