Scarborough Councillor Paul Ainslie is parting ways with Mayor Rob Ford, resigning from his executive and declaring he can’t support him for re-election.
The break was widely expected after Mr. Ainslie voted against plans for a Scarborough subway extension this week, a stand that was ridiculed on the floor of council by both the mayor and his brother, Councillor Doug Ford. Mr. Ainslie’s departure is the latest sign of the mayor’s shaky hold on council, even in a week when he landed a major political win with the subway vote. It also points to the political manoeuvring that is taking place as candidates prepare for the municipal campaign that begins in less than three months.
Mr. Ainslie stepped down Friday as chair of the Parks and Environment committee before he could be fired. He was critical of Mr. Ford and his staff for their failure to develop strategy and for bullying tactics.
“I think they ran out of ideas a long time ago,” Mr. Ainslie said, adding that he has been “butting heads” with the mayor over fiscal policy for the past eight months.
“I’ve concluded the mayor is not a candidate that I can support in 2014,” Mr. Ainslie said. “I think there is a lot of potential here for this city to move forward into the 21st century and I don’t think Rob Ford is the mayor to take that lead.”
Mr. Ainslie said he will support his old boss, former city councillor David Soknacki, if he enters the race for mayor.
The move paved the way for Mr. Ford to shuffle positions on standing committees and his executive. New Ward 3 Councillor Peter Leon was voted onto the executive Friday, but only after a bid to put Councillor Adam Vaughan on the committee instead lost on a tie. Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti returned to the executive as the new chair of the parks committee.
“I like Paul. He’s a nice guy. Unfortunately, he’s not representing the people of Scarborough well,” said Mr. Ford.
Mr. Ford suggested the move has been brewing for some time. “He was pulling a few stunts throughout the last year. I moved him around, gave him a second chance. After a while, enough’s enough,” he said.
Mr. Ford confirmed he planned to dismiss the Scarborough councillor at the end of Friday’s council session.
Mr. Ainslie, once a stalwart supporter of Mr. Ford, ran into trouble after he commented publicly on the mayor’s behaviour at a military charity dinner. Mr. Ainslie said he asked staff to have Mr. Ford leave the Garrison Ball this spring after several people expressed concerns about his behaviour. Mr. Ainsilie’s version of events was denied by the mayor’s former chief of staff.
Mr. Ainslie said he has “felt bullied on a number of occasions,” by Mr. Ford and his staff, including this week when he expressed his support for the city’s previous light-rail plan.
During that debate, the mayor suggested he would target Mr. Ainslie’s seat in the next election. Asked about that threat, Mr. Ainslie said he is ready.
“If he wants to try and have a run at me, go ahead,” he said. “I hope he gives it his best shot and I’m certainly going to give it my best shot.”
Responding to Mr. Ainslie’s comments, the mayor said he preferred to “take the high ground.”
“We’re doing great. We’ve got taxes low. We got the subway done. He can say what he wants,” he told reporters.
With a report from Kaleigh Rogers
Editor's Note: The original newspaper version of this story and an earlier online version incorrectly said Councillor Josh Matlow made a bid to put Councillor Adam Vaughan on the executive committee. This version has been corrected.