Is it time for Ontario to step in and remove Rob Ford?

Thomas Bink
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne in Toronto on Oct. 8, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said Thursday that she is willing to help Toronto city council oust Mayor Rob Ford, but only if council formally makes a request and only if all provincial parties agree. The city's councillors have voted in favour of reducing some of Ford's powers … but is it time for the province to step in and remove Ford?

Thomas Bink: It's pretty clear that Ford has to go, one way or another. He's become a real liability and it seems absurd that he can say and do anything he wants from now until the next election a year from now. But at the same time I understand Wynne's hesitation to step in – part of the electoral process is that you get what you voted for, right or wrong, and it should be up to the people to decide whether Ford should stay in office, not another politician. It sets a dangerous precedent. Maybe the answer is to have some kind of referendum.

Andy Radia: For months, I've been saying that Ford should get to keep his job since no charges have been laid against him. His actions this week have helped to change my mind. In the past week, he's admitted to buying illegal drugs, drinking and driving, and exercised very little judgement with his vulgar language. The man has a problem and needs to be helped out. I agree with you Tom about a referendum. In B.C., we have recall legislation, whereby a large number of signatures on a 'recall' petition means a new election in a given riding. I think all levels of government need recall legislation.

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Matthew Coutts: Yup, we are all in agreement on the referendum. Wynne was bang on when she said the worst thing that can happen is the process of unclogging Toronto City Hall becoming a partisan game. But sadly it is inevitable. The Fords will make Wynne the enemy on which to focus the vitriol of “Ford Nation.” Hudak will do the same. Unless every provincial party is on board and Toronto council calls on them, she can’t get involved. The attention is on Ford’s suitability for office. That’s where the attention should remain.

Bink: Right, there are two possible avenues this can go down – one is if the provincial parties can't agree, the other is if the Fords decide to take legal action and things get bogged down in the courts. That would be the worst scenario, and both Fords have already alluded to challenging council's decision to strip some of the mayor's powers. If it goes to court, millions could be wasted in proceedings that might not conclude before the next election. I like Andy's suggestion and how things are done in B.C. A recall petition sounds perfect here.

Radia: Let this be a wake-up call to us. It shows that we need better checks and balances in our systems of government.

Coutts: I just think it’s horrible what Ford is doing to Toronto, and frankly the province. He refused to resign, sure. He refused to take a temporary leave and seek actual, tangible help for substance abuse problems. And he’s not even trying to limit the embarrassment he brings the city during the fallout. In council he said that if he were a councillor under a mayor as terrible as he has been, he would take the exact same steps to limit his power and remove him from office. This is the definition of hypocritical. Step down, Ford. And all of this is avoided.

Bink: Yep, I think that's something we all can agree on.

So, what do you think? Have your say in the comments area below.

Matthew Coutts is a national affairs writer for Yahoo Canada and Andy Radia is Yahoo Canada's politics expert. Thomas Bink is the Managing Editor for Yahoo Canada News.