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Council Scorecard: Tory has strong council support to start his term

During the Mayor Rob Ford era, my city council scorecard — which tracks how often councillors vote with the mayor on major items — was a very exciting spreadsheet — that's high praise. I find most spreadsheets at least a little exciting.

It tracked rapidly shifting political alliances. It told the story of how Ford managed to lose almost every single one of his allies. It showed exactly how he ended up losing more than half of council votes — something unprecedented in Toronto politics.

The scorecard under Mayor John Tory will probably be more boring.

In contrast to his predecessor, Tory has struck a more even-keeled approach to most council matters. He seems to understand better than Ford that the job of mayor is building consensus through compromise. I'd expect Tory to hold on to his allies a lot longer than Ford did.

That said, it's still very early in the term and there's a lot that could go wrong for the new mayor. It's important to remember that Ford's first weeks in the mayor's office were similar to Tory's. He won a couple of key council votes relating to his campaign pledges. He looked friendly with councillors. There seemed to be something resembling a long-term plan.

So things could still go south for Tory, but for now he looks pretty strong. The first council scorecard of Tory's Toronto includes three important votes from council's December meetings. Each one was a victory for the new mayor.

The votes added

Motion 5 of ST1.1 related to the appointments of city councillors to boards and agencies. Most of Tory's board appointments were accepted by council with minimal fuss, but a move to keep Coun. Giorgio Mammoliti on the Board of Governors for Exhibition Place drew plenty of criticism.

It's no mystery as to why. Mammoliti, in addition to being tied up in a fundraising-related legal mess, spent a lot of time last year attempting to ban electronic dance music events from Exhibition Place. Things got weird.

At the meeting, Coun. Mike Layton moved to put Coun. Gord Perks on the board in place of Mammoliti. Tory, for whatever reason, opposed the move. The result was the closest vote of Tory's first month, as Mammoliti got to keep his spot at the Ex following a narrow 26-19 vote.

CC1.12 was the vote on Tory's other controversial appointment. I was pretty surprised after Tory announced his intention to keep Coun. Frances Nunziata in place as council speaker. Her time in the speaker's chair under Ford was marked by a lot of yelling.

In the days leading up to council's vote on the matter, there was a behind-the-scenes move by some councillors to nominate Coun. Maria Augimeri as speaker, even over Tory's objections. But with a majority of council holding firm in support of the mayor's decision, Augimeri backed down. Nunziata was confirmed as speaker with a 38-6 vote.

Finally, EX1.12 was the first on what'll probably be a dozen SmartTrack votes. This initial motion asked for a report on an “accelerated work plan” for a review of the express rail plan to be delivered later this month. There was some concern about the motion directing that some of the work be done by a University of Toronto team led by Eric Miller, who was a vocal supporter of SmartTrack during the mayoral campaign. But that wasn't enough to stymie Tory's plans. The item passed 42-1, with Coun. Rob Ford the only dissenter.

What did Ford vote against this month?

Speaking of the former mayor, here's a quick list of other items Ford was the lone vote against at council's December meetings:

Trend Watch

It's too early to note any real trends. I'd expect the core left-wing opposition to some of Tory's policies to include Coun. Gord Perks, Coun. Joe Cressy, Coun. Mike Layton Coun. Paula Fletcher, Coun. Janet Davis and Coun. Krystin Wong-Tam — and maybe some others.

Coun. Rob Ford is a wildcard, but a useful wildcard. Under Ford, all council votes — even the most mundane and irrelevant — had to be recorded for council minutes. Tory has indicated he's not so much a stickler, and happy to have councillors vote by a show of hands on minor items. As a councillor, Ford still has the ability to ask for a recorded vote when he's in attendance. Purely for the purposes of this scorecard, I support him doing so.

The budget process kicks off later this month, with council debating the budget in March. The budget will be the first real test of Tory's ability to build and maintain alliances at council. I'll be watching.

This post was originally published at on 2015-01-09T00:00:00.000Z

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Matt Elliott

City Hall watcher, columnist and policy wonk in Toronto.
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