The Progressive Conservatives would consider backing a provincial intervention at Toronto city hall to deal with Mayor Rob Ford, giving councillors another potent option as they wrest control from the embattled chief magistrate.
On the day city council voted to strip Mr. Ford of nearly all of his powers, even the mayor’s ideological allies at Queen’s Park were ready to consider stepping in to end the chaos surrounding his administration.
“We need to get this behind us,” PC Leader Tim Hudak said outside his Queen’s Park office. “If the city says that they legitimately cannot function, then we do have an obligation at the provincial level, within the powers that we have, to ensure some clarity and stability.”
The position is similar to that of Premier Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals: she said last week that she is ready to give councillors more powers to sanction Mr. Ford if they ask for them. Council currently does not have the authority to remove the mayor from office, but the province could change the law to give them this ability.
Ms. Wynne’s party controls only a minority of seats in the legislature, making the backing of another party crucial.
Despite Mr. Hudak’s position, his Tories were careful not to be seen throwing Mr. Ford under the bus entirely. MPP Doug Holyday, who stood next to Mr. Hudak as he spoke with reporters, accused councillors of “beating up” on the mayor.
“It’s not necessary to be vindictive and slap him around just for the sake of slapping him around,” said Mr. Holyday, who served as Mr. Ford’s deputy until earlier this year. He said he spoke with the mayor 2 1/2 weeks ago to urge him to get help for his substance-abuse problems. That plea went unheeded.
Provincial politicians have been wary of wading into the drink and drug scandal surrounding Mr. Ford, in part out of fear of angering his base of supporters. Last week, Ms. Wynne said she would seek the help of both opposition parties before taking any action.
New Democratic Leader Andrea Horwath was non-committal Monday, but left the door open to working with Ms. Wynne and Mr. Hudak if the province is asked to step in.
Municipal Affairs Minister Linda Jeffrey estimated that, if all three parties co-operated, it would take one or two months to pass new legislation on Ford. But she stressed the province will not step in unless the city requests it to.
She poured cold water on Mr. Ford’s call for a snap election to sort things out before the scheduled October, 2014 vote. She dismissed his assertion that council overstepped its authority by stripping him of the power to appoint and fire heads of committees.
“Right now, what [councillors] are doing is within their purview with regards to the role the bylaws that they delegate to the mayor. Those to my knowledge are all legal,” she said.