Doug Ford thinks Toronto’s city council is dysfunctional and unproductive because it’s too big. Thing is, they’re in the midst of a monthly meeting (it would’ve been finished, but they suddenly had to deal with his bombshell) that began with about 400 agenda items. First, 300 were released — which is council’s way of saying that, on second thought, the item doesn’t need to be debated after all. That’s called streamlining things. The other 100 were dealt with in five days. I doubt the provincial legislature makes that many decisions in that much time.
Maybe Ford thinks Toronto city council is unproductive because he made it so. His brother and his henchmen (Mark Towhey and Nick Kouvalis — note that the latter ran John Tory’s 2014 mayoral campaign and has been brought back to run his 2018 reelection campaign) managed to bully councillors, especially rookies, into believing it was their way or the highway.
And they enjoyed a remarkable run of success, eliminating the vehicle registration tax (costing the city upward of $60 million a year), stripping TTC workers of their legal right to strike, cancelling the Transit City program unilaterally without a vote at council, bullying the province into tunnelling the Eglinton Crosstown light rail for its entire length (somebody at Metrolinx was sharp enough to leave the agency an out), got budgets cut, and on and on.
And then came Doug Ford’s Ferris wheel. I get the impression that this barely sentient sac of leaking pus got it into his addled brain that he was the mayor of Toronto, not his brother. Doug took backroom meetings with an Australian developer who wanted to build a megamall on the waterfront. Because in the second decade of the twenty-first century, shopping malls are where it’s at (said no one ever). The “plan” was to include an ice rink at the old Hearn generating station and a giant Ferris wheel.
Doug Ford had installed an old high school football buddy as boss of the Toronto Port Lands Company, and he’d gone to the trouble of paying an architectural firm $55,000 to draw up plans. (Sole-source deal, even though the Fords were supposed to hate those.)
Next, the city manager sprung it on council that the Port Lands Company, which was basically moribund, should replace Waterfront Toronto as the primary driver of waterfront development. The pushback was remarkable. Even Ford family friend Jim Flaherty was against the nonsense Doug Ford was trying to pull off.
The councillors whose wards were affected by Ford’s dealing, Pam McConnell and Paula Fletcher, managed to get a motion through council that effectively kneecapped the mall plan and the elevation of Doug’s football buddy to waterfront czar.
The first indication that Rob Ford’s mayoralty was over came when his 2012 city budget was effectively defeated. By November 2013, after Rob Ford had finally admitted he was a crackhead, council voted to strip him of many of his duties, assigning them to deputy mayor and noted branded merchandise hawker Norm Kelly.
By many accounts, city council was more productive and more efficient after Rob Ford was politically neutered.