Noisy sign-waving critics of Toronto’s embattled mayor insisted Saturday that stripping Rob Ford of some of his powers doesn’t go far enough as he gets set to face another move by city councillors to weaken his standing.
Dozens of demonstrators clustered around a public stage outside city hall to demand Ford leave office immediately, repeatedly chanting “resign!”
“That’s the best thing for him, really, and for the city. Because the other two ways of getting him out are by handcuffs or by gurney, and I don’t want either,” said retired teacher Ray Fredette, 62.
The anti-Ford rally — the second in recent days — followed Toronto city council’s overwhelming vote Friday to curtail some of the mayor’s powers.
But protester Michael Bedford said that move didn’t go far enough since it still leaves Ford as the city’s public face.
“Making him mayor in name only is a good first step but he shouldn’t represent the city in any capacity. Toronto’s become this laughing stock on international television because he’s given a forum to rant on about inappropriate things,” the 30-year-old said.
“This gets on the international news and people associate Toronto with this buffoon who makes us all look bad.”
City council can’t force Ford’s removal, but it is scheduled to vote Monday on a third motion that would see Ford’s office and budget essentially moved to the control of the deputy mayor — further watering down his position to something closer to a regular city councillor.
A subdued Ford threatened legal action during Friday’s heated council debate that saw his ability to appoint key committee chairs or to exercise emergency powers neutered.
Any case to quash the anti-Ford bylaws — likely on the grounds council acted illegally or in bad faith — would be heard before Ontario Superior Court. Ford would also probably seek an injunction to put the bylaws on hold pending the outcome of the case, which could take many months.
It’s been another roller coaster week at Toronto city hall after Ford admitted Wednesday he has purchased illegal drugs while in office, and one day later sparked outrage by making a crude sexual comment on live television that he later apologized for.
Ford has stubbornly refused to take a leave or resign ever since reports surfaced in May of an alleged video that appeared to show him smoking crack cocaine.
During a subsequent investigation, former staffers told police of his guzzling alcohol while driving, lewd and bizarre behaviour, and his consorting with suspected sex-workers.
The mayor has said he’s been receiving unspecified support from a team of health-care professionals.
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne has said council would have to make it clear it could not function as a result of the Ford scandal before she would consider any sort of intervention.