POLITICS

Ontario Liberals Not Open To Ford's Call For Snap Election

11/18/2013 12:49 EST | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST
CP
TORONTO - Ontario's Liberal government made it clear Monday it was not open to a request from embattled Toronto Mayor Rob Ford for a snap municipal election so voters can decide if he should be booted out of office after admitting he smoked crack cocaine.

"It's not something we're considering at the moment," Municipal Affairs Minister Linda Jeffrey told reporters. "We're not considering changing the electoral period that members sit. It's not something we're contemplating."

The province probably wouldn't be open to changing the election date even if the request comes from the entire Toronto city council, added Jeffrey.

Mayor Ford himself has spoken out against the cost of special elections, noted Finance Minister Charles Sousa.

"The antics that are occurring in Toronto are distressing and concerning, but the last thing we want is for more disruption," said Sousa. "Council has a job to do, let them do it, and we'll wait to see when the next general election occurs in October."

Premier Kathleen Wynne has repeatedly said she wants city council to deal with Ford, and would step in only if there is a specific request from the city, and only if all three parties in the legislature approved any provincial action.

Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak agreed Monday that the controversy surrounding Ford is best dealt with by the municipal councillors, and said they appear to be doing what's necessary.

"They're taking action and getting to a point of clarity as to where they're going to go," said Hudak. "If ultimately there is a request from the city that they legitimately can't function, then I think the provincial level has an obligation to respond to that within the powers that we have."

Neither Hudak nor NDP Leader Andrea Horwath would comment on Ford's request for a snap election, calling it premature and saying it's not up to one politician to decide.

Horwath also wouldn't commit the NDP to supporting legislation if city council requests the province's intervention to deal with the mayor, who has repeatedly refused to resign or even take a leave of absence since he admitted smoking crack.

"I think what we need to do is give the city that respectful space to be able to make their decision," said Horwath. "It's the job they were elected to do, and so we need to ... stand away from any pre-suppositions about what kind of conclusions they're going to come to or what kind of suggestions they might be making to the province."

PC government accountability critic Doug Holyday, who was deputy mayor under Ford until he got elected provincially last August, said city council was going too far by voting to strip the mayor of his powers.

"I don't know why they need to kind of beat up on him to the point that they're doing, throwing him off the executive committee and diminishing his power to the point that he can't do anything," said Holyday. "It's not necessary to be vindictive, just to slap him around for the sake of slapping him around."

Deputy Premier Deb Matthews said the situation in Toronto is far worse than in her hometown of London, Ont., where Mayor Joe Fontana is still in office despite being charged with fraud, breach of trust by a public official and uttering forged documents. The RCMP accused Fontana of using a $1,700 federal check to pay the deposit on a room for his son's wedding reception.

Matthews believes any mayor facing criminal charges should resign from office until the issue is dealt with, but said London city council is still able to do its work even though Fontana is hanging on to his job.

"I'm not happy with the circumstances, don't get me wrong, but I think that London is a very resilient city and it is overcoming that particular issue and getting on with the work of the city," said Matthews, who is also Ontario's health minister.

"It is nothing, nothing compared to what's happening here in Toronto."

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