Archived columns and blog posts by Matt Elliott

Council's decision to appoint didn't have much to do with Rob Ford

There are a lot of people with strong opinions about Toronto City Council's decision yesterday to opt against a byelection to fill the vacancy left by former deputy mayor Doug Holyday in Ward 3. Instead, after a quick debate and a decisive 19-14 vote, council opted to appoint someone to fill Holyday's seat.

But whether you believe the decision was an affront to the sanctity of democracy or just, you know, a timing and money thing, there's one thing that everyone should agree on: this was not a decision that had much to do with Mayor Rob Ford.

Sure, Ford wanted a byelection. Badly. Mostly, it would seem, because he really loves campaigning and has been worried about having nothing to do this fall now that he can't coach football. But attempts to spin council's decision as some sort of personal grudge vote are hard to square with the actual vote results.

Here's how the vote went down. (I've also added the vote to the City Council Scorecard, which you can view here.)

The thing to note: if you can look past all the absences — hey, it is summer — it becomes clear that this was not a vote that fell entirely along partisan lines.

For one thing, Coun. Gord Perks supported the byelection option. And he literally doesn't see eye-to-eye with the mayor on anything — Perks and the mayor haven't voted the same way on a major issue since December of 2010. The same goes for Coun. Mike Layton, whose byelection support came despite having an entirely different ideological bent than Ford.

If this was a coordinated effort to defeat the mayor, the two of them would have almost certainly been part of it.

Meanwhile, those who supported appointment came from all sides of council — and all parts of the city. Of the 19 votes against Ford's motion to hold a byelection, four came from right-leaning candidates, five came from centrists and ten came from the left.

Had just a few more centrist and right-leaning councillors supported Ford's byelection push, any kind of politically-driven opposition from the left would not have mattered. Ford would have seen his motion to hold a byelection easily pass.

So tell me again how this result was about sticking it to Ford. Ford may not be happy with how the vote turned out, but the results point to a decision that was made primarily on its own merits — for better or for worse.

This post was originally published at on 2013-08-27T00:00:00.000Z

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Matt Elliott

City Hall watcher, columnist and policy wonk in Toronto.
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