Watch video from May 31 above, as Wynne explains her stance on the relationship between Toronto and the provincial government.
TORONTO –Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne’s comments that she was “worried” about the situation at Toronto City Hall followed her to Sarnia Friday, where reporters asked if her comments had crossed the line.
On Thursday, Wynne said she was “worried” and will act “when and if it is appropriate” when it comes to what she called the “situation” surrounding Mayor Rob Ford—and the Ford brothers fired back later that afternoon.
Wynne stood by her comments, and added she wouldn’t pass judgment on whether Ford has her confidence to continue as mayor of Toronto.
Wynne was referring to the latest reports suggesting Ford knew the location of an alleged video—that he had previously denied the existence of—showing someone who looks like the mayor smoking what could be crack cocaine, and the ensuing exodus that has now seen five staffers leave his office.
Global News has not seen the video and cannot verify its authenticity.
Ford has called the allegations “ridiculous” and his brother, Councillor Doug Ford, said the mayor told him it was “untrue.”
When asked what an appropriate time to take action would be, Wynne said that, “there are measures that can be taken at city council in order to keep the business of the city running.
“I don’t know what the outcome of the allegations and all of the current actions is going to be, but I will take action if and when it is appropriate having followed due process.”
“I think the premier should take care of the problems that she has at Queen’s Park right now,” said Mayor Ford in a press conference when asked about Wynne’s comments Thursday afternoon.
Ford’s brother, Councillor Doug Ford, said he had one message for Wynne: “get your own house in order.”
“Get your house in order before you have the nerve to say anything about the mayor,” he said. “You don’t see the mayor proroguing City Hall like the former premier did,” he added, before championing Ford’s platform and financial record as compared to that of the provincial government.
Watch Doug Ford’s May 30 comments below:
Wynne called the municipal level of government “a mature level of government” but one that is “the creature of the province at some high level.” She said there is an option of legislation changes, but didn’t commit to immediate action.
“The provincial legislature could amend the City of Toronto Act and the Municipal Elections Act but I do not see either of those things as a real possibility,” wrote John Mascarin, a partner with Aird & Berlis LLP, in an email to Global News. And Wynne’s comments suggest she has no plans to do so at this time.
“If at some later date we need to change those rules, then we have that conversation, but right now we are paying close attention to whether the business of the city is being done and everyone is following the procedures that are in place,” Wynne said.
Short of amending the statutes, there is actually little the province can do to remove an elected mayor, wrote Mascarin, who specializes in municipal law. An elected official can lose their seat if there’s a contravention of the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act or if they commit a corrupt practice under the Municipal Elections Act, he added.
Under the City of Toronto Act there are only a few ways to remove a mayor, said Mascarin.
“If (a mayor) is incarcerated at anytime during the election process or when (a mayor is) sitting in office you become disqualified and are removed from office,” said Mascarin last week. “You can be removed from office if (a mayor) misses more than three months of council meetings.”
The only other ways are if an elected official no longer owns or rents land in the municipality, or ceases to be a Canadian citizen, explained Mascarin.
In the case of Ford, Mascarin said that if he is facing a substance abuse problem that council could allow him to miss meetings while he seeks treatment.
Thursday the mayor fired his Chief of Staff Mark Towhey, a long-time ally, reportedly after Towhey advised the mayor to seek addiction counseling.
Legal experts say that if the video does surface it would be difficult for the police to investigate.
“How do you know what’s in the pipe? There’s no way of verifying,” said Mascarin.
Mascarin said that police generally don’t lay charges on just a video tape and prosecutors would look at this as very flimsy grounds to go to trial.
“I’m worried about the situation, we’re monitoring it very carefully, and as appropriate we will be involved,” said Wynne. “The councillors are saying it’s not business as usual…so we’re paying very close attention.”
This article was originally published May 30 at 4:30 p.m. ET.