Toronto Mayor Rob Ford says Ontario New Democrats should reject the budget tabled by the minority Liberals because taxpayers have grown tired of scandal and want a provincial election.
Mr. Ford, who co-hosts a weekly radio show with his brother, Councillor Doug Ford, said on air Sunday the public is fed up with controversies involving the governing Liberals, such as the gas-plants cancellation that prompted Premier Kathleen Wynne to testify at a legislative committee last week.
“The leader of the NDP party, Andrea Horwath, should just say no, listen to the taxpayers,” the mayor said. “Regardless of policy, the taxpayers want an election.”
Doug Ford has already said he would run for the Progressive Conservatives if the Premier calls an election this spring. The PCs have vowed for months that they would vote against the budget.
“There’s a great team waiting to jump in office and straighten this ship around,” Councillor Ford said on radio.
Ms. Wynne’s government Thursday tabled its first budget since she took over as party leader. The $127.6-billion plan was headlined by a pledge to cut auto-insurance rates by 15 per cent, more money for home care and changes to corporate tax credits that favour small businesses – all measures designed to maintain the support of the NDP, whose backing she needs to continue governing.
Ms. Horwath hardened her demands Friday, saying the government must put mechanisms in the budget to ensure the new spending actually meets the NDP’s goals.
For instance, she wants guarantees that the insurance cut will take place within a year and that the new home-care dollars will reduce waiting times to five days. Ms. Horwath also wants additional oversight of government spending, such as giving the provincial ombudsman the power to investigate more government departments.
A vote on the budget motion must occur before the end of the month. If the government survives that vote, the budget will be referred to committee for amendments before it comes back to the legislature.
The final vote could happen as early as June, but the government can delay it until the fall.
The NDP will have several chances to change the budget. The party could either persuade the government to alter the spending document before the budget motion, or it could make changes at committee.
Provincial politics was not the only subject the mayor dove into during Sunday’s show.
Toronto city council is set to meet Tuesday and Mr. Ford said he will vote against a motion by Councillor Paul Ainslie that would add a 30-minute recess between 6 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. for council meetings.
The motion says provincial employment standards require a break after five hours of work.
“While members are often free to leave the chamber to take a short break or seek refreshment, the staff typically are not,” the motion reads. “These are also long hours for members of council without a break and sometimes the quality of debate suffers.”
The motion says council meetings would be improved by returning to past practices of having a short dinner break.
Mr. Ford disagreed, and said it’s not that difficult to sneak out for 15 minutes to eat a sandwich. “It’s called working on the fly,” he said.
The mayor also expressed concern that councillors wouldn’t come back to the chamber after the break.
After the remarks, Mr. Ainslie tweeted he’ll have to have a chat with the mayor.