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Council votes for appointment over byelection in ward 3

Watch: City council votes to appoint someone to replace Doug Holyday rather than hold a costly byelection. Jackson Proskow reports. 

TORONTO – Mayor Rob Ford claimed Monday the 22 councillors who voted to appoint a replacement for Doug Holyday in ward 3 did so to keep the mayor off the campaign trail.

Council voted 22-11 to appoint someone to replace Doug Holyday instead of spending upward of $200,000 for a byelection.

The former Ward 3 councillor is now the new MPP for Etobicoke-Lakeshore after winning a provincial byelection on Aug. 1.

Ford called the vote a “political” decision.

“Council obviously didn’t listen to what the people want in ward 3,” he told reporters following the vote. “And it’s political – they don’t want me campaigning. I got news for them; I’m going to be campaigning, so they can’t keep me off the campaign trail.”

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Despite the mayor’s claim the decision was politically motivated, some of the mayor’s usual opponents, including Councillors Mike Layton and Gord Perks, voted along with the mayor in favour of a byelection. And some of his usual allies, including Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, voted in favour of an appointment.

“If I had gone before council and said I’m not going to campaign, they would have voted for a byelection,” Ford said, adding that he “can’t wait” for the mayoral campaign to start.

Appointments to city council have been made in the past. Councillor Paul Ainslie was appointed in Feb. 2006 to fill a vacancy in Ward 41 that was created when Bas Balkissoon won a provincial byelection. In the general election later that year, Ainslie ran successfully as councillor in Ward 43.

“We’ve saved taxpayers over $200,000 by appointing somebody,” Scarborough councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker said shortly after the vote. “I think people out in Etobicoke will have someone very good representing them.”

Councillor Doug Ford, came out strongly against the decision saying it was the latest example of council going against the “will of the people.”

“People in Ward 3 wanted a voted representative, council voted against the people again,” Ford said, guessing that “80 per cent” of ward 3 residents preferred a byelection based on his conversations with residents.

READ MORE: Council to decide how to replace Doug Holyday

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In a municipal byelection, any Toronto resident can put his or her name forward to fill the vacancy until the 2014 general election. Councillor Ford suggested an appointed councillor would have an unfair advantage over anyone else in next year’s election.

Councillors on both sides of the debate had argued about the estimated $200,000 cost of a byelection – supporters, such as Councillor Peter Milczyn, said it was “not a huge cost for democracy”; opponents called it a needless expense so close to a general election.

Ford derided some of his fellow councillors following the vote suggesting they had become “fiscal conservatives overnight.”

–        With files from Jackson Proskow

Follow a LIVEBLOG of the debate with Global Toronto’s Jackson Proskow at city hall.

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