Would you like to know just how bad the Toronto Mayor Rob Ford scandal has become? Even his former allies in the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party are open to setting aside a potential political win in order to oust him from office.
That’s right, as Toronto city council moves to severely limit Ford’s authority as mayor, PC Leader Tim Hudak was telling reporters at Queen’s Park that he could support Premier Kathleen Wynne should she be asked to intervene.
The Globe and Mail reports that Hudak said the province should be ready to get involved if Toronto council asks for help dealing with the crisis brought on by Ford's continuing spiral downward and his refusal to step aside and seek treatment for substance abuse issues.
“We need to get this behind us,” Hudak is quoted saying. “If the City of Toronto says it cannot function, the province has an obligation to respond with the tools at its disposal.”
The tools at the province's disposal include amending the Municipal Elections Act and the City of Toronto Act to allow either removing Ford from office or triggering a fresh election.
Premier Kathleen Wynne said last week that the only way she would consider intervention is if city council formally asked the province to get involved and if she could secure unanimous support from the PCs and the NDP.
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Full coverage: Rob Ford
Here are three reasons why Hudak’s stance is somewhat surprising:
1. The situation is wrought with opportunity to score political points. Without PC support, a move by the Liberals to intervene in a democratically-elected city council would appear heavy-handed. That’s why Wynne hasn’t gotten involved earlier, and why she said she won’t move forward with it now without PC and NDP support.
2. Hudak and the PCs have long-standing ties to the Ford family. The mayor’s father was a former Ontario MPP, Rob Ford has stumped for PC candidates including his former deputy mayor MPP Doug Holyday. And Coun. Doug Ford, Rob’s brother, has long been rumoured as a star candidate in the next election. Recently released insider documents suggest Doug Ford’s candidacy was to be help up as a major coup for the party. Doug also said last week that he would not be running in the next municipal election, presumably as he readies for a move to provincial politics.
3. The federal Conservatives have been completely absent in their own criticism on Ford. Harper, who has previously been described as Ford’s fishing buddy, has said nothing. Justice Minister Peter MacKay has been unable to muster much outrage for the litany of illegal activities to which Ford has confessed, and Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, who had a personal relationship with Ford’s father, grew emotional and said only that Ford has to make his own decision.
Hudak’s announcement that he would support possible provincial intervention also takes some steam out of the current sound bite offered by the Ford brothers, who are claiming steps taken against the mayor are part of a leftist coup d’état.
With the Ontario PCs and a bevy of conservative councillors on board, it is hard to claim that now. Although that won’t stop anyone from trying.
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