Today the Toronto City Council stripped Mayor Rob Ford of most of his powers, rendering him a figurehead.
Alas, this is highly illegal, as The City of Toronto Act (as passed by the Legislative Assembly of Ontario) has no provision for the City Council to strip the mayor of his powers and responsibilities as defined by Sections 131 and 132.
The only way the Toronto City Council could strip Ford of his powers (or remove him from office altogether) is if the provincial government were to amend The City of Toronto Act. Indeed, over the weekend, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne not so subtlety indicated she was willing to assist the Toronto City Council in this manner.
At this point, the Toronto City Council would have to formally request the province to intervene. If they did, I suspect Queens Park would have little trouble passing amendments to the City of Toronto Act. Although Wynne’s Liberals have a minority government, if amendments were introduced they would get the support of both the NDP and even a significant portion of the Conservative Party, which increasingly views Ford as an albatross around its neck.
Ford didn’t exactly help himself when he engaged in a shouting match with spectators, ran toward the crowd, and knocked down Toronto City Councillor Pam McConnell. Although Ford did help McConnell to her feet, she did sustain a fat lip. While Ford later apologized to McConnell, the damage was done.
Late last week, Ford got into hot water when he made explicit references to oral sex when talking with reporters at Toronto City Hall. Ford apologized for those remarks as well.
Notwithstanding Ford’s boorish and buffoonish behavior, Toronto City Council has overstepped its bounds and has exerted an authority it does not have. Unless the Government of Ontario plans to change the law, Ford should seek relief from the courts, which will be obliged to rule Toronto City Council’s actions today as unlawful.