VIDEO: Rob Ford vows to take legal action as council votes to strip him of some of his powers as mayor. Jackson Proskow has the latest.
TORONTO – Toronto Mayor Rob Ford vows to take legal action after council voted 39-3 in favour of taking away his ability to appoint and remove heads of committees.
But he has yet to file any lawsuit.
The mayor retained municipal lawyer George Rust-D’Eye on Wednesday ahead of council’s 39-3 decision to strip him of the ability to appoint committee chairs.
Rust-D’Eye has yet to discuss any legal remedies with the mayor but in an interview with Global News Friday said council “cannot do indirectly what they can’t do directly.”
Rust-D’Eye suggests council’s goal is to remove Ford’s ability to function as mayor, but since they cannot impeach him, they’re making it close to impossible for Ford to function as chief magistrate.
Those appointments have now been reassigned to Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly. Ford will also no longer be able to designate or fire the deputy mayor.
“I wish there was some other route than had been followed,” said Coun. John Filion, who introduced the motion. “Council has given the mayor advice and requests and he has chosen not to follow them.”
Ford will remain mayor in name only as council cannot impeach him – only the provincial government could remove Ford from office ahead of an election.
Fillion put forward his motion last week after Ford admitted to smoking crack cocaine while mayor and police documents revealed a close relationship with Alexander “Sandro” Lisi who has been charged with trafficking marijuana and extortion.
But merely associating with criminals isn’t a crime, Rust-D’Eye said, adding that Ford’s admitted drug use hasn’t impacted his ability to function as mayor.
“I think they dealt entirely in extra-curricular activities. I think he’s been fulfilling his role as mayor. He attends most meetings, I saw today, I was watching city council, he speaks frequently, he shows leadership, he addresses the issue, he’s prepared, he reads the agendas,” Rust-D’Eye said. “I don’t think there’s any suggestion that he abused his power or didn’t make good appointments.”
Filion said following the votes that he isn’t worried about a court challenge.
“We have the authority to do everything we did,” he said. “I think a lawyer will tell him there’s nothing to challenge.”
Some councillors have suggested the province should step in, but Friday, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said council has shown it can function despite the mayor’s ongoing scandals.
“I see that city council is making decisions and they’re determined from what I’ve heard some of them say and they’re actions today, they’re determined to make city council work,” she said. “It seems today that is exactly what’s happening.”
A second motion sought to strip Ford of his emergency management duties and ability to appoint accountability officers. That was passed 41-2. The deputy mayor now assumes those responsibilities.
“I actually didn’t expect a virtually unanimous vote but I think if there’s any positive as to what’s happened here today, it’s that,” said Coun. Janet Davis. “As you know the mayor will still remain the mayor in name and he will still continue to have a seat and I think that there may be new revelations that unfold in the coming months.”
On Thursday, it was also announced that a motion to restrict the mayor’s budget is in the works and will be presented to council on Monday.
The move to limit the mayor’s power comes after numerous allegations regarding Ford’s controversial behaviour and substance abuse issues.
New unredacted police documents released from search warrants leading to the arrest of the mayor’s friend and occasional driver, Lisi, show former Ford staffers say they saw him doing drugs, drunk in public and while driving and partying with women believed to be prostitutes.
None of the allegations in the documents have been proven in court. The mayor hasn’t been charged with anything.