The now-infamous photo of Rob Ford
Lo, those many months ago, before newspapers were reduced to printing articles about explaining crack to their children, Rob Ford, the Mayor of Toronto, was embroiled in what now seems to be a quaint conflict of interest issue. An Off the Shelf post, entitled “Shooting Fish in a Barrel” was written, and that was seemingly the end of that.
Well, as the entire world now knows, that was not, in fact, the end of that, and thus another instalment of “Shooting Fish in a Barrel” has come to light. The developments have come in fits and starts, but the past two weeks have seen devastating revelations on a near-daily basis, with the latest (at the time of this writing) being yet another video of the Mayor in a state that was, by his own admission, “extremely inebriated.” While politicians of all stripes have called for him to resign and/or go to rehab, he won’t go, go, go. Unfortunately, this has created a bit of a bind for City Council as, unlike with most other levels of government, there are very few mechanisms for the removal of a sitting mayor (and the one means has already failed). Short of being arrested, tried, convicted, and imprisoned (all of which is unlikely to occur before the next election in October 2014), if the Mayor doesn’t want to leave, he doesn’t really have to.
However, that has not stopped councillors from trying to curb his powers, including a proposed motion from councillor John Filion that would essentially strip Ford of his power to appoint members to his executive committee and shift that power to council. This motion was proposed before the latest developments (i.e. admitting he’s smoked crack; today’s hopped-up death threats video), so there has been further calls for the province to step in and do something – anything.
Since the City of Toronto is, like all Ontario cities, a creation of the province, in theory, the province could amend the City of Toronto Act or find some other means of removing the Mayor, but it would set an undeniably bad precedent. Under the current legislation, there would be a couple of ways in which the Mayor (or any council member, for that matter) could lose the right to hold office. Section 203 (2) (c) states that a sitting member could be disqualified from holding office if they”would be prohibited under this or any other Act from voting in an election for the office of member of city council if an election was held at that time.” If one is being held at her Majesty’s pleasure, voting is a right which is withheld.
The other option, and this is the one that has garnered the most discussion, is s. 204 (c) of the City of Toronto Act, which designates a seat as being vacant in the event of three consecutive months of missed council meetings. The logistics of how to keep the Mayor away from council meetings for three straight months, especially given that it’s less than a year until the next election, remains to be seen.
The fact is that as things stand, the Mayor cannot be forced out, doesn’t have any intention of going, and can stand for re-election. He probably can’t even be forced into rehab unless he completely bottoms out, and his family apparently have no intention of getting him the help he needs. Whether he gets elected remains to be seen. Given how much has transpired since our last Rob Ford-themed post (less than ten months), a lot can (and probably will) change. When it does, you can be assured that part three of “Shooting Fish in a Barrel” will find its way to Off the Shelf.