Archived columns and blog posts by Matt Elliott

Council Scorecard: Making sense of a renovated city council

Published on Tue Nov 19 2013

So, what happened? With a series of votes on Friday and Monday, a supermajority of Toronto City Council took unprecedented steps to limit Mayor Rob Ford’s non-statutory powers. He’s still the mayor, but he doesn’t have control over much, with many of his responsibilities now in the hands of Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly.

Why did they do that? What, you haven’t heard? It turns out Ford is an admitted liar under active police investigation. He’s got ties to criminal activity. He’s got potential addiction issues. He’s got friends and colleagues who have urged him to step aside and great treatment. He’s got friends and colleagues he’s ignored. And so council thought, hey, maybe we better not leave it so this guy is responsible for the multi-billion dollar corporation that also happens to be Canada’s largest city.

So it was the right thing to do? It was.

How did councillors vote? I’m glad you asked. Here’s a breakdown of the more significant votes.

a full spreadsheet of all the various votes that stripped Ford of powers

I’ve also put together .

Can you give me some super nerdy stats about the votes? Nerdy stats are my daily bread and butter. Looking at every vote from the meetings on Friday and Monday, 28 councillors voted for 100 per cent of the measures to limit Ford’s powers. That represents a huge coalition on the 45-member council, and don't let anyone tell you they're all left-wing socialists.

The councillors who didn’t vote for 100 per cent of the power-limiting motions are:

  • Coun. Josh Colle (Voted for 96% of measures to limit Ford’s powers.)
  • Coun. Chin Lee (92%)
  • Coun. Michelle Berardinetti (92%)
  • Coun. Peter Leon (88%)
  • Coun. James Pasternak (83%)
  • Coun. Cesar Palacio (83%)
  • Coun. Mark Grimes (75%)
  • Coun. Anthony Perruzza (71%)
  • Coun. David Shiner (58%)
  • Coun. Frank Di Giorgio (50%)
  • Coun. Mike Del Grande (25%)
  • Coun. Frances Nunziata (8%)
  • Coun. Vince Crisanti (8%)
  • Coun. Doug Ford (0%)
  • Mayor Rob Ford (0%)

Coun. Giorgio Mammoliti was marked as absent from all votes because he was staging a boycott. It was very effective.

Coun. Del Grande was also curiously absent for a subset of votes, though I can’t confirm whether that was intentional or not. Mayor Ford had to be absent for all votes conducted yesterday, for fear of a conflict of interest violation. (He's had some troubles with those in the past.) Coun. Gloria Lindsay Luby missed the meetings as well, though not because she was trying to make a point.

All items received more than the two-thirds they needed to pass, with the closest votes coming on motions to strip Ford of his ability to designate or set times for key items on the council’s agenda (76 per cent in favour) and to remove his ability to opt to speak first or last on any item. (71 per cent in favour.)

Most items passed with about 90 per cent of councillors' in approval.

What’s the net impact of all this? That remains to be seen, really. These are uncharted waters. A lot depends on whether Ford gets anywhere with an attempt to convince the courts to step in and reverse council’s decision. I wouldn’t put a lot of stock in that happening, but it’s a possibility. Lawyers are crafty.

Beyond that, it’ll be up to the deputy mayor to set the tone and try to steer things back to business.

Ford will continue to prove disruptive on the floor of council, but that’s just a continuation of behaviour that began long before he was elected mayor. Council can deal with it.

Wouldn’t it have been better to just remove him from office? Council had no ability to do this. And I don’t think they should, to be honest. While I’d support reforms to change the way we vote or the way government is run, politicians are elected to serve a specific term in office. They should be allowed to finish that term, barring something like a conflict of interest violation or criminal conviction.

Besides, I like the idea that elections have consequences, and that there’s no quick eject button. That realization might cause political backers to think twice before throwing in with, say, a bumbling populist with no workable plan for anything.

So council did good? Council did good. Despite whatever it is Ford is saying about a coup d'état, this is very decidedly not one. It’s a rare coup d'état that involves elected members voting for change. This was democracy. Messy democracy, sure. But is there any other kind?

This post was originally published at on 2013-11-19T00:00:00.000Z

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Matt Elliott

City Hall watcher, columnist and policy wonk in Toronto.
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