Toronto Mayor Rob Ford poses for photos with fans as he attends the Toronto Argonauts and Hamilton Tiger-Cats CFL Eastern Conference final football game in Toronto on Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette The Canadian Press
A new challenge to Mayor Rob Ford awaits him at Toronto City Hall today, as councillors are set to consider yet another motion to limit his powers.
The motion calls for paring back the mayor’s office budget so that it is equivalent to that of a regular member of city council, and for the balance of his budget to be administered by his deputy.
The councillors will also consider delegating additional powers Ford holds to Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly. Council will consider the motion Monday afternoon.
Ford said little while arriving at city hall on Monday, but his brother, Coun. Doug Ford, repeated their pledge to fight council's actions in court.
"This is a modern-day overthrow of an elected official. This is wrong," he told reporters.
"This is what you see in Third World nations … This is a modern-day coup d'état."
Coun. Ford added that the mayor is getting professional help and has not had any alcohol for three weeks.
Council has already taken steps to restrict Ford’s powers in recent days, amid a high-profile scandal that has seen the mayor admit to having smoked crack cocaine, to buying illegal drugs and to other behaviours he has deemed embarrassing to have revealed.
Mayor vows to continue in role
Three days ago, council voted overwhelmingly in favour of stripping the mayor of his ability to appoint and dismiss the deputy mayor and key committee members. In a separate vote, they also removed his ability to exercise emergency powers.
On the weekend, Ford appeared prepared to press forward at city hall, no matter what council may do on Monday.
"I'm going to continue to fight for the little guy. I'm going to continue to save taxpayers money. And if the councillors want to strip all my powers, that's up to them," Ford told the U.S.-based Fox News.
Despite the looming court battle, and speculation to the contrary, the Fords will not seek an immediate injunction to block Monday's motion, according to George Rust-D'Eye, the mayor's municipal lawyer.
"There's just not the time or the urgency," Rust-D'Eye said Monday on CBC News Network.
"I would have to look at [the motion's] actual impact on the mayor's statutory duties," as they are spelled out in provincial law, he said.
Ford also taped an interview with CNN, during which he mingled with supporters in a neighbourhood in Etobicoke — the Toronto suburb where he served as a city councillor before being elected mayor, and where he still lives — and repeated his claims he has been unfairly targeted by the media. Things turned testy, however, when Ford was pressed about his initial denial, and eventual admission, of drug use.
"Typical media, you're all the same, cut from the same cloth," he told CNN's Bill Weir.
Coun. Ford, standing nearby, tried to get his brother to calm down.
Mayor Ford apparently cursed during the interview — a seeming echo of last week's gaffe, the use of a profane expression during a media scrum — though his exact words were bleeped out. He immediately apologized for swearing in the presence of children.
Ford has been at the centre of an extraordinary month of November at city hall. The mayor has made a number of surprising admissions, apologies and responses that have captured the attention of those living in Toronto and many others around the world.
The mayor admitted to having smoked crack cocaine since taking office, as well as to having purchased illegal drugs in the past two years. Ford has also made apologies for "mistakes," some of which were alcohol-related and included getting "hammered" at a street festival this past summer.
Also during this time, a bizarre video surfaced showing the mayor ranting and swearing. Ford apologized, saying that he was "extremely, extremely inebriated," though he did not clarify the circumstances under which it was recorded.
Coupled with his admissions have been apologies. Ford has repeatedly indicated he is sorry for various behaviours, while also reiterating the fact that he cannot change the past.
Ford has also talked about the pressure he has felt for months, after reports emerged that someone had been shopping a video that allegedly showed the mayor using crack cocaine.
The mayor long denied those reports, as well as denying that he used crack cocaine. But after the city’s police chief revealed on Oct. 31 that investigators had obtained a copy of a video that was consistent with media reports, Ford began calling for its release and eventually admitted that he had indeed smoked crack cocaine.
The drama surrounding the mayor has been covered by media around the world and has made Ford’s name frequently referenced on late-night talk shows. On the weekend, Saturday Night Live had a skit that centred on the mayor.
Controversy has followed Ford
Ford came to power in 2010 vowing to "stop the gravy train," or to limit the spending and waste that he perceives to be taking place at city hall.
Since being elected as mayor three years ago, Ford’s off-duty activities and his city hall work have both made for many headlines.
Last year, Ford faced a conflict-of-interest challenge that nearly forced him from office. But he won an appeal that allowed him to keep his job.
Ford also faced an unrelated defamation lawsuit, which was eventually dismissed in court.
A noted football fan, Ford for a time coached a high-school team, which some critics said was a distraction from his mayoral duties. He no longer coaches that team, as the school board decided to seek a replacement after reviewing remarks Ford made in a television interview.
Ford’s driving has also made headlines at time, including an occasion in which he admitted he was "probably" reading documents while driving his Cadillac Escalade on the Gardiner Expressway. The mayor then refused calls to get himself a driver, though he recently decided to do so.
He has made it clear that he intends to run for re-election next year, though Ford has said he expects the next municipal campaign will be "a bloodbath."
So far, Coun. Karen Stintz, the TTC chair, is the only current of member of council to definitively state an intention to run against Ford next year.
David Soknacki, a former city councillor, is also expected to run for mayor in 2014.
Ford, now 44, is a father of two young children.
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