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City Council Scorecard: Playing catch-up with votes on transit funding, casinos, electoral reform and, um, showers

By: Matt Elliott Metro, Metro Canada Published on Fri Jun 21 2013

A huge update to the Toronto City Council scorecard this month, as we catch up on council goings-on that have been kind of overshadowed by that whole drug scandal thing. For those of you just joining us, the City Council Scorecard is a record of all “major” votes that take place at Toronto City Hall — with “major” defined kind of arbitrarily as votes that either get a lot of media attention or end up as particularly contentious during debates. All the items are stacked up in terms of how Mayor Rob Ford voted, which gives us an idea of which councillors are generally loyal to the mayor and his agenda — it's all calculated as a councillor's “Ford Nation Percentage.”

The votes added, from left-to-right:

I've added two votes relating to the super-complicated debate council had on Metrolinx's proposed revenue tools for funding the Big Move transit plan. The first vote on the item, EX31.3, saw two-thirds of council vote to have the debate on transit funding even though Ford had tried to squash the item at his Executive Committee. That the mayor saw a full two-thirds of his colleagues in attendance vote against him on such an important item is pretty incredible.

But that was followed with more procedural confusion, as Coun. Josh Colle ultimately moved a motion that saw councillors actually stop short of endorsing any kind of new tax, fee or toll to fund transit expansion. Instead, they decided only to tell the province which types of revenue tools they were specifically against. It was a perplexing move by Colle, supported by TTC chair Karen Stintz, and approved by a majority of council, including the mayor, on a 26-18 vote.

Compared to that, EX31.27 was a simple affair. The mayor brought forward a motion that would commission a report on a possible expansion of Billy Bishop Island Airport to accommodate the use of jets. Though many downtown councillors oppose any move toward allowing jets, Ford was able to convince a large majority of his peers that a little report on the notion wouldn't hurt anybody. It passed 29-15.

Ford wasn't so lucky with GM21.10. That item had to do with the weirdly controversial plan to build a shower facility into the new public bike station being built beneath City Hall as part of the ongoing Nathan Phillips Square revitalization. Ford tried to block the construction of the showers and change room, arguing that they were unnecessary, but council overruled him on a 12-19 vote.

That loss was nothing compared to Motion 2b of EX30.1. That vote formally killed any hope of seeing casino expansion at Woodbine racetrack. It stands as probably the most humiliating vote of Ford's term, because it had to do with a facility smack dab in the heart of his home turf of Etobicoke, and because the result — 20-24 — was so close that the mayor undoubtedly could have secured a win here had he not been so focused on the prospect of a downtown casino. (That downtown casino, by the way, was rejected so roundly that I didn't even bother to include it in this scorecard.)

From last week's meeting, EX32.2 had to do with something Ford talked a lot about throughout his 2010 campaign for mayor — shrinking the size of City Council. Ford has been steadfast with his belief that there should be the same number of city councillors as there are provincial MPPs and federal MPs. And so the mayor took a report coming to council on the need to review ward boundaries as an opportunity to try to blast council with a shrink ray, but, of course, not a lot of councillors were eager to vote themselves out of a job. It failed 10-23, with a lot of absences. (The mayor's brother, Coun. Doug Ford, actually voted against the mayor on this item. But he later said it was just a mistake.)

Lastly, we have a pair of votes relating to electoral reform, both with outcomes that made a lot of progressives happy. On GM22.15, Motion 2b by Coun. Pam McConnell saw council formally make a request to the provincial government to grant non-citizen permanent residents the right to vote in municipal elections. It passed very narrowly — 21-20.

That was followed by a motion by Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam to look at ranked choice voting for the 2018 municipal election. This kind of electoral system would finally put an end to fears of vote splitting and kill strategic voting once and for all. It passed with more breathing room, 26-15.

The mayor opposed both measures.

Following a public break with the mayor after he was passed over for the job of budget chief, Coun, Paul Ainslie has seen his Ford Nation percentage decline by nearly 16 points in just a few months. At this rate, he'll officially join the ranks of council's middle this fall.

Coun. Jaye Robinson, who was recently booted off Ford's Executive Committee — making the cabinet-like group officially an all-boys club — hasn't really varied up her voting patterns yet. Notably, she was one of only a handful of councillors to back Ford's bid to reduce the number of councillors.

Meanwhile, another former member of Ford's executive also slipped below 70% on her Ford Nation Percentage and fell back into the ranks of the middle-aligned councillors. Coun. Michelle Berardinetti has seen the third-biggest slide in Ford percentage this year, behind only Ainslie and Coun. John Parker.

This post was originally published at on 2013-06-21T00:00:00.000Z

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Matt Elliott

City Hall watcher, columnist and policy wonk in Toronto.
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