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Rob Ford: Mayor Of Toronto, With Budget Deficit At Hand, Holds Court With Citizens

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ROB FORD
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford says he'll make the time to hear out interested Torontonians. | CP File

UPDATE:Toronto's mayor says he's been threatened but is letting the police deal with it.

Rob Ford made the comments today at a news conference during a break from an executive committee meeting on budget cuts.

Ford says he received a threat and that it's under police investigation but added he doesn't take it very seriously.

He said he received the alleged threat "a couple of weeks ago" and didn't think it was related to proposed budget cuts.

Ford didn't want to go into details about the threat but said it was a message that was left.


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Rob Ford may not be royalty, but when he took his seat at the head of Toronto City Hall Thursday, the mayor held court in one of the most well attended -- and controversial -- public meetings in recent memory.

With everything from libraries to police services on the chopping block in the city’s bid to tackle a projected $774-million budgetary deficit, the mayor opened the floor to residents, encouraging all Torontonians to voice their concerns before the axe falls.

LIVEBLOG: UPDATES, TWEETS, PHOTOS AND UPDATES FROM THE PUBLIC HEARINGS (SCROLL DOWN)

It’s a process he acknowledges could be a lengthy one.

“Everyone has five minutes to talk to me personally at our executive meeting,” he told CP24. “I invite the whole city. I don’t care if we have to sit here for three days.”

One report suggested that 302 citizens have registered to speak. At the rate of five minutes per person, that would be more than 25 hours.

But while Ford’s tactics may be somewhat (ahem) unique, his plight is anything but.

“All cities in Canada are facing financial problems, because of the economy because of the downloading of services [from the provinces], and because of the need to be competitive internationally,” Enid Slack, director of the University of Toronto’s Institute on Municipal Finance and Governance, told HuffPost Canada. “Large cities in general face a lot of demands to provide services and infrastructure, and they have limited resources to do that, so they are under pressure.”

We followed the proceedings at city hall.

live blog

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The meeting is on a 45 minute break, but that's all for our live blog tonight. You can visit the Toronto Star's live blog for updates throughout the night. Thanks for following.

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@ nowtoronto : Deputant says 31 per cent of kids show up to school hungry. KPMG suggested school nutrition program could be eliminated #TOpoli

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@ reporterdonpeat : Photo of City Hall security escorting Kevin Clarke off the property http://ow.ly/i/eYSE #TOCouncil

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Marni Van Dyk: "Toronto self-identifies as first the cultural, second the entertainment and third, the financial capital of Canada. Why? Because it is."

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Clarke was a mayoral candidate for Toronto's last election, and is also one of the city's most recognizable homeless people.

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@ nowtoronto : "I AM HERE TO REMOVE YOU FROM OFFICE!" Clarke shouts as he is led from City Hall #TOpoli

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@ nowtoronto : He calmly puts on a blue robe, then starts shouting "You stole the mayorship from me, Rob Ford!" He is escorted from the building #TOpoli

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Outburst in the meeting room by Kevin Clarke. He was quickly ejected.

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Out of the 30 deputants who have spoken so far, all 30 are opposed to cuts. After more than seven hours, we're still on the first of a little more than eight pages of registered speakers.

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Michelle St-Amour from The Graduate Students' Union with the University of Toronto is speaking in defense of the Toronto Public Library system and the TTC.

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Ford says they still have 348 names to go.

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@ jaketobin : City staff have brought in veggie plates and pretzel sticks for the people in the overflow rooms #TOCouncil

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Some of the citizens in the overflow rooms are on the first floor, meaning they have to evacuate thanks to the fire alarm, and won't be able to watch the hearing. Ford says they will continue regardless.

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Ford says the clerk advised him that those not on the list will not have an opportunity to speak.

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A fire alarm has gone off in the meeting room, but Ford says they will continue.

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"You can raise a family on an hour. You can't raise a family on an hour." — John Cartwright, President of the Toronto & York Region Labour Council. He adds that "poverty jobs" should never be the goal of the city.

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@ nowtoronto : Left Ex Comm meeting for 1 hour, 8 ppl have spoken since. At this rate, meeting will end 8:45 am on Saturday. #TOpoli

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Here's an updated list of the speakers.

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@ AdrianMorrow : Ford: "I'm surprised they're not blaming Diefenbaker, let alone Harris." #TOPoli

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Mammoliti gets hissed by the audience for saying to Fry that there are parts of the city that do not want to subsidize the other parts of the city, playing on the war between Toronto's suburbs and downtown.

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Kim Fry: "Nothing should be public anymore in the Ford Nation."

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Kim Fry says that she and other citizens of Toronto "don't accept the direction" the city is being taken by council.

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Jeff Melanson, the Special Advisor to Rob Ford on arts and culture is now speaking. Melanson was hand-picked by Ford. He suggests we "hold the line" on arts grants — and is interrupted by some stirring in the audience.

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Deputant makes a sarcastic speech on how the city can "save millions" by getting rid of libraries, cutting social services and privatizing the TTC. She receives raucous applause and cheers, and pumps her fist in the air. Councillor Vaughan praises her "creative writing" and asks if she's Margaret Atwood.

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@ ivortossell : Mammoliti: "Do you understand where we're coming from"? Everyone here: "NO!" M: "Ohh, now I've got Councillor Fillion laughing at me..."

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Mammoliti is now expressing frustration with other councillors who are laughing, speaking out of turn, and calling names.

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Mammoliti asks the Toronto Arts Council again if they receive any funding from any other levels of government. Karen Tisch, President of the council, says that they aren't eligible for funding from any other level of governments.

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@ nowtoronto : T.O. Arts Council rep says Toronto spends per capita on the arts. NYC spends #TOpoli

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Councillor Vaughan asks Claire Hopkinson, Executive Director at Toronto Arts Council, if they directly fund Margaret Atwood's work. She says no since Atwood does "very well" on her own.

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@ nowtoronto : Current speaker is no. 3 on list of 344. With questions, he has been speaking for over 10 min. At this rate we'll be done in 56 hrs #TOpoli

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