Archived columns and blog posts by Matt Elliott

City Council Scorecard: Team Tory wins votes on Gardiner, gambling and police

By: Metro Canada Published on Thu Jul 23 2015

It’s going to be a while before we see Toronto City Council again.

After their last meeting wrapped up on July 9, councillors aren’t set to meet again until Sept. 30, when they’ll likely confront a hideous monster of an agenda jammed full of all sorts of items that will pile up this summer.

So that’ll be fun.

You know what’s also fun? Taking the opportunity afforded to us by the long summer break to reflect on how council has performed under Mayor John Tory.

To do that, there’s no better tool than my City Council Scorecard, which keeps track of all major votes at city hall. It works both as an ongoing measure of the mayor’s success and as a way to keep tabs on the voting alliances between councillors. It’s also colourful.

The new update to the Scorecard adds three votes from the council meetings held in June and July, on the Gardiner Expressway, the expansion of gambling at Woodbine Racetrack and the reappointment of a member to the Toronto Police Services Board.

Here’s how the votes shook out.

The votes added:

Motion 1C, part 1, of PW4.1, was the most pivotal in a series of council votes relating to the fate of the Gardiner Expressway.

If you missed the many columns and blog posts I wrote about this issue, councillors needed to decide on two options for the short section of expressway between the Don Valley Parkway and Jarvis Street. They could either keep the elevated highway with slight modifications — this was called the “hybrid option” for reasons no one can explain — or demolish the thing and replace it with a regular ol’ boulevard.

Tory wanted the hybrid, and he ended up getting it thanks to some crafty council strategy and a bit of luck. His motion supporting the option carried 24-21, a razor thin margin for any decision, especially so early in a council term.

EX7.4 saw councillors vote 25-19 in favour of expanding gambling at Woodbine Racetrack as part of the development of a big entertainment complex with dancing and magicians and buffets.

Council rejected the notion of more gambling at Woodbine in 2013, but even then the idea of adding table games to the betting already available at the site was an afterthought, barely mentioned in the larger debate on whether to put a casino downtown. That's why Tory felt the issue deserved another look.

This was yet another close vote, as many progressive councillors argued against unleashing Gamblor and his neon claws on the vulnerable people of Toronto, even if more gambling means more revenue for the city.

Finally, there was CA9.2, the vote that reappointed Tory friend Andrew “Andy” Pringle to the Toronto Police Services Board. Pringle’s reappointment was opposed by Coun. Michael Thompson, who argued that Pringle had “consistently rubber-stamped police actions, proposals and initiatives that were not in the best interest of the community.”

Thompson, a member of Tory’s executive committee and Chair of Economic Development, has clashed with the mayor on police issues relating to oversight and carding. On this item he led 10 councillors to refer Pringle’s reappointment back to committee over Tory’s objections. Ten wasn’t enough. Pringle was reappointed 28-11.

Trend Watch

There are now 25 members of Team Tory – councillors who have voted with the mayor more than 70 per cent of the time on major items. Five councillors have voted with Tory less than 30 per cent of the time, putting them in the opposition. That leaves 15 in the middle.

Since my last scorecard update, Coun. Glenn De Baeremaeker has voted his way to Team Tory. Coun. Rob Ford, Thompson and Coun. Paul Ainslie have dropped to the middle ranks. Coun. Paula Fletcher and Coun. Mike Layton are newly-minted members of the opposition.

Overall, Tory has won 86 per cent of major votes, a pretty good record of success. With the Gardiner especially, he was able to emerge from a tough and divisive battle with a win. He’s got a lot to feel good about.

There are still warning signs, however. Tory’s cabinet-like executive committee is not providing him with solid support. Under Ford, it was generally assumed that all executive members would support the mayor on important matters, especially early in the term. But four members of Tory’s executive — Ainslie, Thompson, Coun. Ana Bailão and Coun. Mary-Margaret McMahon — have already opposed the mayor on several items.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I’d rather see councillors vote based on conscience and not political loyalty. But it will make it harder for Tory to see continued success at council.

This post was originally published at on 2015-07-23T00:00:00.000Z

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Matt Elliott

City Hall watcher, columnist and policy wonk in Toronto.
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