Toronto’s City Council has voted overwhelmingly to strip Mayor Rob Ford of some of his powers in the latest attempt to box in the brash leader who has resisted huge pressure to resign over his drinking and drug habits and erratic behaviour.
The motion, approved in a 39-3 vote, suspends Mr Ford’s authority to appoint and dismiss the deputy mayor and his executive committee, which runs the budget process. John Filion, the councillor who introduced the motion, has said the goal is to prevent Mr Ford from firing executive committee members who speak out against him.
An unusually subdued Mr Ford vowed to fight the motion in court. “I can’t support this and obviously I have no other options but to challenge this in court,” the mayor said.
The vote came a day after yet another series of antics from Mr Ford that outraged city councillors, anti-drunk driving advocates and even Toronto’s football team. Most councillors are frustrated by his refusal to step aside since he admitted last week to smoking crack, but they lack the authority to force him out of office unless he is convicted of a crime.
In the span of a few hours on Thursday, Mr Ford used obscene language to deny that he pressured a female employee for oral sex, admitted that he had driven while drinking and then apologised for his vulgarity and said he was seeking professional help, though he refused to give details.
“We need to take away his power for the good of the city,” said Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, a former ally. “The tide has turned and there are very few people that are prepared to defend him given his vulgar comments and his admission that not only does he takes drugs but that he seems to be comfortable drinking and getting behind the wheel.”
Mr Ford’s troubles began escalating in May when news reports first surfaced of a video showing him smoking crack. After month of evading the question, the mayor admitted to having smoked crack when Toronto police announced they had obtained the video during a massive drug investigation that has ensnared a close friend of the mayor’s.
Revelations have rapidly surfaced of other startling behaviour, from former aides alleging that the mayor has been frequently drunk on the job, to a video showing the mayor threatening to kill someone in an incoherent rant.
It has been a stunning decline for the 44-year-old mayor who was elected three years ago with fervent support from Toronto’s conservative-leaning outer suburbs, where many voters felt angry about they considered wasteful spending and elitist politics at City Hall.