Rob Ford threatens legal action after Toronto council strips some of his powers
Marlene Leung, CTVNews.ca Staff
Published Friday, November 15, 2013 6:25AM EST
Last Updated Friday, November 15, 2013 9:12PM EST
Rob Ford is vowing to launch a court challenge after Toronto city council overwhelmingly voted in favour of stripping the embattled mayor of some of his powers, including his ability to appoint and fire committee chairs and the deputy mayor, as well as his authority during emergency situations.
Emerging from council chambers Friday afternoon, Ford told reporters that it was now time for Toronto voters to have their say.
"The councillors had their say today… the taxpayers will have their say on October 27, that's all I can say," he said in a reference to next year's mayoral election.
His brother, Coun. Doug Ford, followed up by saying that voters' rights were taken away after council's decisions.
"Let the people decide -- not the media, not the politicians, not the councillors. This is about democracy," he said.
Earlier Friday, councillors passed the motion stripping Ford's appointment powers by a vote of 39-3. Only the Ford brothers and Coun. David Shiner voted "No," while the votes of three councillors were absent.
By a vote of 41-2, councillors passed the motion removing his emergency powers. The Ford brothers were the only two councillors who voted "No," while the votes of two councillors were absent.
Ford will still be able to declare a state of emergency in Toronto, as that power is assigned to him by the province, but will have no authority over how to manage the emergency. Instead, the responsibility will fall to Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly.
Both motions are now municipal bylaws. All of the changes outlined in the motions will be in effect until November 2014, when Ford’s current term ends.
Before the vote, Coun. John Filion said that while the motions were being brought forward "reluctantly," they were also "warranted and necessary" to bring stability to city government.
Ford said that while he understood where councillors "were coming from," he would be challenging the motions in court and that councillors should consider the cost to taxpayers.
"I'm not mad at anybody, I take full responsibility," he said. "I respect what council has done, it's just the taxpayers will have to pay a fortune for this. I think we could have dealt with this in another manner."
However after the votes, Ford's lawyer George Rust-D'Eye told The Canadian Press that he had not received instructions to start litigation, but would begin if he was asked to.
Coun. Doug Ford argued that council didn't have the moral or legal authority to remove a democratically elected official. He warned that passing the motions would set a precedent, where councillors could seek to "kick off" a councillor if they disagreed with their policies or behaviour.
Another motion, to be introduced on Monday, seeks to remove most of the mayor's powers and duties, reassigning them to the deputy mayor. Ford will also be replaced by Kelly as chair of the executive committee.
If approved, Monday's motion would also see Ford's budget slashed, reducing it to the same size as any other city councillor.
Councillors react to votes
Speaking to CP24 after the votes, Shiner – the sole councillor to vote against the appointment motion – said it is up to city residents, not councillors, to decide who should be running city council.
"These are powers bestowed upon the mayor by the electorate. So the question is: when you start (removing them), where do you stop?" he asked.
Coun. Denzil Minnan-Wong, however, told CTV News Channel that it was a "good day."
"Council spoke with one voice to try and take what measures they could at the city (level) to constrain and put the mayor in a box," he said.
He repeated his belief that the province should intervene and remove Ford from his post.
Meanwhile at a separate event on Friday, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne told reporters that it appeared that city council was continuing to function in light of the scandal surrounding Ford.
On Thursday, Wynne had said the province would be willing to intervene only if city council makes it clear that it can't function. However, she would consult with the leaders of the other provincial parties first before making a decision.
Ford apologizes for crude comment
The votes come after another headline-making day at city hall, which saw Ford apologizing for using sexually explicit, vulgar language on live TV while refuting recent allegations against him.
Ford told reporters Thursday he would be taking legal action against several former staffers, saying that allegations made to police were "outright lies."
Court documents made public on Wednesday show that a number of the mayor's former staff members told police of reports of Ford engaging in questionable behaviour, including drinking and driving and sniffing cocaine at a downtown bar. None of the allegations have been proven in court.
During his apology, Ford told reporters he was seeking help from a team of health-care professionals.
There has been increased media scrutiny at city hall ever since reports surfaced last May of a video in which the mayor appears to be smoking crack.
Ford admitted to smoking crack cocaine on Nov. 5 and has since rejected calls for him to take a temporary leave.
With files from The Canadian Press