POLITICS

Kathleen Wynne: Ontario May Intervene In Ford Saga If Toronto City Council Can't Function

11/14/2013 04:30 EST | Updated 11/15/2013 09:51 EST

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne says the province may be willing to intervene if Toronto city council clearly indicates it can't function because of the ongoing Rob Ford saga.

Wynne held a press conference Thursday afternoon where she said it is up to the municipal level of government to address its own issues.

She said it's not the province's role, or its intention to impose its preferences upon Toronto.

However, the premier added she would "respond to a request from council to be provided new tools" if the municipal government makes it clear it can't carry on.

Current laws provide for a mayor's removal only if he or she is convicted of a crime or misses too many council meetings.

Wynne said that if formally asked by Toronto council to intervene, she would consult the other party leaders to see if the legislature "could move unanimously."

Here is her full statement:

As I have said from day one, we have been watching this situation closely and listening carefully. Events obviously continue to move quickly. The things we are seeing and hearing about Mayor Rob Ford are truly disturbing. Yesterday, City Council voted to request the mayor take a leave of absence.

As Premier of Ontario, the principles that are guiding me on this issue are as follows:

One, the City of Toronto has a mayor and council that were elected by the residents of Toronto and must be accountable to them. It is up to the municipal level of government to address the issues they face. It is not the provincial government’s role, nor its intention to impose its preferences upon that government.

Two, Toronto City Council has to be able to function.

Three, if council were to clearly indicate that they lack the ability to function as a result of this matter, the province would respond to a request from council to be provided new tools, depending on what that request might be.

Four, because of the extraordinary and unique nature of this type of intervention, I would consult with the other party leaders to see if our legislature could move unanimously if required.

The last thing this terrible situation needs is a layer of partisan politics. Within Ontario’s legislature and across this city, we all have to stand together to represent the best interests of the people.

At every level, your government is here to serve you.

Toronto is a great city in an amazing province. We have a proud history and a bright future.

Toronto is greater than one politician or one government. Ontario is greater than one politician or one government.

I understand that people are affected by what is happening at this moment.

But I want the people of Toronto to know that we will not be defined by this.

And we will all work together to ensure the people’s interests are served.

Wynne has faced increasing pressure to address the scandal that has engulfed Canada's largest city.

Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong said last week that he wants the province to remove Ford if he refuses to step down.

"If he won't find the exit, I think we have to show him the door," said Minnan-Wong.

Municipal Affairs Minister Linda Jeffrey suggested to the Toronto Star on Wednesday that Queen's Park would take a hands-off approach.

"My office is aware of the motion that was just passed by council and we are reviewing it," Jeffrey said, referring to non-binding motion passed by council Wednesday calling on Ford to take a leave of absence.

The symbolic motion passed 37-5 but Ford has indicated he has no plans to step aside.

A recent poll suggests Torontonians overwhelmingly want Ford to step down, either for a brief period to address personal problems or for good.

What do you think? Should Wynne step in or leave this mess for Toronto to figure out?

With files from The Canadian Press and Michael Bolen

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