Rob Ford says Kathleen Wynne should talk to “the elected Mayor of Toronto” about city business.
But staff in the Premier’s office said she can meet with whomever she wants after announcing that she has an appointment on Tuesday with the deputy mayor.
Ms. Wynne’s session with Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly is the latest sign of Mr. Ford’s shrinking influence since council took away most of his authority two weeks ago. Mr. Ford had refused to take a leave after admitting he had smoked crack cocaine and his involvement in a police drug probe came to light. Council’s unprecedented move has left the city with a jerry-rigged government and Mr. Kelly stepping into many of the mayor’s duties while Mr. Ford continues to assert his role.
News of the meeting prompted a letter from Mr. Ford to the Premier and a verbal onslaught from his brother, Councillor Doug Ford.
“I believe that it would be most appropriate for you to meet with the elected Mayor of Toronto on these matters, which affect our city as a whole,” the letter sent late Monday to Ms. Wynne said. Mr. Ford said he is busy with his annual toy drive on Tuesday morning, but “would be happy to meet” after that.
Councillor Ford was less diplomatic.
“Now you’ve got two unelected leaders meeting with each other. There you go,” he said.
Mr. Kelly pointed out that both he and the Premier won elections and were given their posts within the rules.
Ms. Wynne’s office responded by saying she has “met with the mayor and city councillors in the past and will continue to do so,” pointing out she met with TTC chair Karen Stintz in September. “Mr. Kelly is representing Toronto city council, to touch base on how work is progressing at city hall,” a spokeswoman in her office said.
News of the Queen’s Park meeting came the same day as Doug Ford took aim at the voice of the city’s business community, calling Carol Wilding, head of the Toronto Region Board of Trade, out of touch with her members and their support for the mayor’s fiscally conservative agenda.
Ms. Wilding is the latest target for the Etobicoke councillor, who has criticized specific individuals, including the deputy mayor, Police Chief Bill Blair and “elites” in general since his brother became embroiled in controversy.
The Toronto board of trade issued a letter last month asking the mayor to take a leave, a position Ms. Wilding said on Monday still holds.
Ms. Wilding was one of dozens of speakers who gave their thoughts to the budget committee on next year’s fiscal plan. She offered general support, but cautioned that “tough decisions” are still needed.
Staff are proposing a 2.5-per-cent increase to residential rates, including a 0.5-per-cent levy for the Scarborough subway extension. The mayor and Councillor Ford want the increase held at 1.75 per cent, which would require $18-million in cuts.
The mayor said on Monday he has a “stack of motions” that will bring $50-million in savings, but did not give specifics. “You are going to see the old Rob Ford in action saving the taxpayers money,” he promised.
Doug Ford estimated about 90 per cent of board of trade members support the mayor’s fiscal agenda, telling reporters Ms. Wilding has not seen “eye to eye with Rob Ford from Day 1. She doesn’t represent – she may be the president – she doesn’t represent the average member of the Board of Trade,” he said.
Ms. Wilding countered that members are engaged in policy development and are polled regularly. “I feel we’re very much in touch with our members and their issues,” she said.
With a report from Adrian Morrow