NEWS

Rob Ford could see council restrict his office budget today

11/18/2013 05:00 EST | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST
A new challenge to Mayor Rob Ford awaits him at Toronto City Hall on Monday, when councillors are set to consider yet another motion to limit his powers.

The motion calls for paring back the mayor’s office budget so that it is equivalent to that of a regular member of city council, and for the balance of his budget to be administered by his deputy.

The councillors will also consider delegating additional powers Ford holds to Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly.

Council has already taken steps to restrict Ford’s powers in recent days, amid a high-profile scandal that has seen the mayor admit to having smoked crack cocaine, to buying illegal drugs and to other behaviours he has deemed embarrassing to have revealed.

Three days ago, council voted overwhelmingly in favour of stripping the mayor of his ability to appoint and dismiss the deputy mayor and key committee members. In a separate vote, they also removed his ability to exercise emergency powers.

On the weekend, Ford appeared prepared to press forward at city hall, no matter what council may do on Monday.

"I'm going to continue to fight for the little guy. I'm going to continue to save taxpayers money. And if the councillors want to strip all my powers, that's up to them," Ford told the U.S.-based Fox News.

His brother, Coun. Doug Ford, expressed a similar view to reporters when asked what he thought about the pending council meeting.

"They are going to do whatever they’re going to do, they are going to trample on everyone’s democracy," he said as he made his way to a taping of the first episode of a new TV show he will host with the mayor.

Extraordinary events

Ford has been at the centre of an extraordinary month of November at city hall, in which the mayor has made a number of surprising admissions, apologies and responses that have captured the attention of those living in Toronto and many others around the world.

The mayor admitted to having smoked crack cocaine since taking office, as well as to having purchased illegal drugs in the past two years. Ford has also made apologies for "mistakes," some of which were alcohol-related and included getting "hammered" at a street festival this past summer.

Also during this time, a bizarre video surfaced showing the mayor ranting and swearing. Ford apologized, saying that he was "extremely, extremely inebriated," though he did not clarify the circumstances under which it was recorded.

Coupled with his admissions have been apologies. Ford has repeatedly indicated he is sorry for various behaviours, while also reiterating the fact that he cannot change the past.

Ford has also talked about the pressure he has felt for months, after reports emerged that someone had been shopping a video that allegedly showed the mayor using crack cocaine.

The mayor long denied those reports, as well as denying that he used crack cocaine. But after the city’s police chief revealed on Oct. 31 that investigators had obtained a copy of a video that was consistent with media reports, Ford began calling for its release and eventually admitted that he had indeed smoked crack cocaine.

The drama surrounding the mayor has been covered by media around the world and has made Ford’s name frequently referenced on late-night talk shows. On the weekend, Saturday Night Live had a skit that centred on the mayor.

Controversy has followed Ford

Ford came to power in 2010 vowing to "stop the gravy train," or to limit the spending and waste that he perceives to be taking place at city hall.

Since being elected as mayor three years ago, Ford’s off-duty activities and his city hall work have both made for many headlines.

Last year, Ford faced a conflict-of-interest challenge that nearly forced him from office. But he won an appeal that allowed him to keep his job.

Ford also faced an unrelated defamation lawsuit, which was eventually dismissed in court.

A noted football fan, Ford for a time coached a high-school team, which some critics said was a distraction from his mayoral duties. He no longer coaches that team, as the school board decided to seek a replacement after reviewing remarks Ford made in a television interview.

Ford’s driving has also made headlines at time, including an occasion in which he admitted he was "probably" reading documents while driving his Cadillac Escalade on the Gardiner Expressway. The mayor then refused calls to get himself a driver, though he recently decided to do so.

He has made it clear that he intends to run for re-election next year, though Ford has said he expects the next municipal campaign will be "a bloodbath."

So far, Coun. Karen Stintz, the TTC chair, is the only current of member of council to definitively state an intention to run against Ford next year.

David Soknacki, a former city councillor, is also expected to run for mayor in 2014.

Ford, now 44, is a father of two young children. He lives in Etobicoke, the Toronto suburb where he served as a city councillor before being elected mayor.

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