Mayor John Tory proved Tuesday that he'll say what he needs to when he feels one of his council colleagues is going too far, as he reminded Coun. Rob Ford on the floor of council about who is wearing the chain of office these days.
"I'm not a punching bag," Tory said Tuesday, when reporters asked the mayor about his faceoff with Ford during a council meeting.
"I'm also, you know, maybe going to have to remind him and anybody else from time to time — and this is not in arrogant way at all — but just to say, look, we had an election. I won."
Tory said he's fully aware that he has to persuade his fellow council members in order to win their support.
"I've received a mandate from the people. I have this job. I have the responsibility to deliver for them and I think when people are making suggestions that are just frankly patently false and misleading to the voters, I have an obligation to at least stand up and say: 'That's not true,'" said Tory.
Return to the election
The exchange Tory was being asked about unfolded when Ford asked the mayor about the $1.6 million in funds needed to study SmartTrack — an initiative the mayor had put forward on the campaign trail to establish a 53-kilometre commuter rail line of 22 stops. The plan would need the support of council and the province to become a reality.
In council on Tuesday, Ford first asked Tory how much money upper levels of governments had committed to for SmartTrack.
"Those governments have not as yet made any specific commitments, I guess any more so than they would have done at the very preliminary stages of consideration of other projects you worked on," Tory said, in an apparent allusion to Ford's time as mayor.
"I think what we see here is a responsible, methodical assessment of the feasibility and pulling together of the facts on this project, and I would not expect that they're going to make a commitment to give what amounts to billions of dollars to a project until we've done that work."
Ford then wanted to know if Tory had told the public about the funds that would be needed to study SmartTrack, as well as the potential impact on a stretch of Eglinton Avenue West in Etobicoke.
Tory pointed to last year's months-long mayoral campaign, where he said SmartTrack was a frequently debated topic.
'Just say yes or no'
But Ford kept pressing Tory, who then said he would "not take any lessons here about the proper way to do things" from the former mayor.
"This is expending a responsible amount of money to get facts and to assess feasibility before asking this council or the other governments to make a major decision to invest billions of dollars," said Tory, who predicted that the studies will come back with favourable information about SmartTrack.
"So you did not tell them that you were going to spend this money and you did not tell them about Eglinton getting ripped up. Just say yes or no, that's a simple question," Ford said.
As the exchange continued with Ford pressing the mayor on the Eglinton issue, Tory said that Ford's own brother — former councillor and mayoral contender Doug Ford — had pressed him on the same issue during the election campaign.
"I'll put a fine point on it, one of my competitors for the race, your brother, raised it repeatedly and the fact of the matter is, I won the election," Tory said, prompting applause from some people inside council chambers.
In the end, council voted to approve the $1.6 million in funding for the SmartTruck study.
Rob Ford had sought re-election as mayor, but withdrew from the mayoral race after he was diagnosed with cancer. He then put his name on the ballot on Ward 2 and returned to council as its representative.
His brother Doug Ford ran in his place, but was defeated by Tory at the ballot box last October.
Late last year, Rob Ford said that he intends to run for mayor again, as long as he is healthy enough to do so.
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