ABOVE: Mayor Rob Ford’s admission of crack cocaine use.
TORONTO – On the day Mayor Rob Ford admitted to having used crack cocaine, his colleagues are making plans to restrict his power as mayor or reiterating calls for him to step aside.
Councillors can’t impeach him; but they’re doing the next best thing in trying to curtail his office.
“Yes, I have smoked crack cocaine,” Ford told reporters outside of his office .
Soon after Ford’s admission, his one-time ally Denzil Minnan-Wong – who earlier in the day had compared Toronto to “Gotham City” – put forward a motion asking the mayor to step aside.
“We as a Council believe the Mayor’s conduct is unacceptable and must stop,” the motion reads. “He is hurting himself. He is hurting the City of Toronto.”
“My first reaction [to Ford’s crack cocaine admission] was ‘Wow.’ I was quite surprised. It is very disappointing to have the mayor of this city of Toronto admit to smoking crack cocaine,” Minnan-Wong told reporters Tuesday afternoon.
“It’s something that I don’t think any of us ever expected and I was disappointed at two levels. Firstly that he did it, secondly that it took him so long to admit it.”
Meanwhile, a motion put forward by John Fillion seeks to restrict the mayor’s ability to determine which councillors chair committees and sit on his executive committee.
“A majority of members of council and a significant number of members of the executive committee have expressed serious concerns about the mayor’s ability to lead the city at this time,” reads the Fillion motion, to be introduced at council next week.
It would prevent the mayor from removing or appointing people on his executive committee and other standing committees. It’s designed to keep Ford from ejecting a growing list of councillors who question his ability to govern.
Ford has “fired” councillors who crossed him before – notably Jaye Robinson, a former member of his executive committee who was demoted shortly after suggesting the mayor take a leave of absence amid crack video allegations in May (she reiterated those calls on Tuesday).
And Paul Ainslie, who seconded Fillion’s motion to restrict the mayor’s powers, resigned from executive committee but said he would have been “fired” after voting for light rail transit in Scarborough.
Toronto has traditionally had a “weak mayor” system, in which the mayor has only one vote on council. But the mayor’s office was given the ability to appoint or dismiss the chairs of committees and the deputy mayor in December 2006.
Next week’s motion would expire following the 2014 election, apparently on the assumption that whoever’s in the mayor’s chair come January, 2015 won’t be in danger of losing the support of council and executive committee.
Ford said Monday he’ll be “running the ship, even if it’s by myself.” This motion seeks to ensure that if Ford stands alone, the rest of council will stay at the helm.