On an unusually sweltering March day in Toronto, city hall voted on an equally heated topic. LRTs or subways? After a long session of yelling, insulting, and posturing, council voted in favour of light rail transit 24-19.
Rob Ford was livid bellowing, “The people of the city have spoken loud and clear. They want subways folks. They want subways, subways, subways” . Meanwhile TTC chairman and the majority of councillors backing her were jubilant. This was a victory in more ways than one. “It’s a great day for transit… the bottom line is council has spoken” , beamed Stintz. Scarborough Centre councillor, Glenn De Baeremaeker chimed in, “We voted overwhelmingly today to invest $4 billion in Scarborough. We’ve got the biggest transit investment ever in the history of Scarborough. This is spectacular news”
Rob Ford had pledged to bring subways to Scarborough but could not back it up with a solid financial plan. Ford tried to scrap the Transit City deal for LRTs which was started under former mayor David Miller’s watch. Ford wanted to replace it with his plan to extend the Sheppard subway to Scarborough Town Centre. Stintz with the backing of left leaning councillors and the Toronto Star were determined to stop Ford, painting him as incompetent and unrealistic. They were sure that what they were doing was for the good of Toronto and it citizens, because they knew better. What’s interesting is that no one bothered to check what the people of Toronto really wanted. In fact during a debate held in Scarborough about the LRT vs subway topic, hundreds of Scarborough residents booed Stintz mercilessly. They wanted a subway and were letting her know it. The Star’s Royson James equated these residents to a bunch of rabid mobs that were uninformed and just about as intelligent as Mayor Ford himself.
On the surface it was a matter of LRT or subways, but it was really more than that. It was about nullifying Rob Ford. It was about stripping the mayor of his powers. In case you didn’t notice, Mayor Rob Ford has a lot of people who would love nothing more than to get him out of office as soon as possible. This was the first step to do that. Take away his weight in the council room and then make him irrelevant. Make him the crazy guy that mumbles nonsense to himself. Just ignore and step around him – except that he is the Mayor of Toronto.
Only in Toronto can you be the mayor and have no teeth at all. Only in Toronto can councillors (who are supposed to generally back the mayor) find a way to sidestep him. Only in Toronto can a city be run with no need for a mayor. It seems pretty pointless to go out and vote if the person you voted for can’t do anything. And maybe that’s why it is such a mess at city hall.