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Toronto Mayor Rob Ford talks to the media after a City Council special meeting, January 10 2014. (Fernando Morales/The Globe and Mail)
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford talks to the media after a City Council special meeting, January 10 2014. (Fernando Morales/The Globe and Mail)

Wynne refusal to meet with Ford isn't personal - it's professional Add to ...

Not since Debbie Harry sang lead vocals for Blondie has anyone said "call me" with such urgency.

Mayor Rob Ford says that Premier Kathleen Wynne simply must get in touch. On Tuesday he was insisting on a meeting "one on one as soon as possible" to discuss Toronto's request for ice-storm aid. On Wednesday he said he wanted "at least a phone call." Either way, he says the premier has just got to speak with him.

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But why on earth should she? It was with good reason that city council stripped the mayor of most of his powers last fall and transferred them to Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly. Since then, Ms. Wynne has quite correctly chosen to meet only with Mr. Kelly.

Council is the city's supreme democratic body and its will, overwhelmingly expressed in the vote taking powers from Mr. Ford, was to shunt the disgraced mayor aside in favour of his deputy. Meeting with Mr. Ford on an issue as important as the storm would be to defy that will.

There is no evidence whatever to back Mr. Ford's contention that she may be shunning him because he campaigned for Conservative candidate (and former deputy mayor) Doug Holyday in a byelection last year.

This isn't personal. It's professional.

As Ms. Wynne puts it, "My responsibility is to meet with the people who can make decisions and who have the responsibility for leadership. In this case, that’s Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly.”

Besides, there is no need for the premier to meet Mr. Ford over the ice-storm. City council voted this week to ask Queen's Park for disaster aid, so the city's request for help has already been made. Municipal leaders from around the region will meet with Municipal Affairs Minister Linda Jeffrey on Friday to press their demand for millions in assistance to help with storm clean-up.

Mr. Ford says he can't wait. "I just need to know. Are we going to get any money, and what amount will that be?" It is as if he thinks that if he gets his meeting with the premier and stamps his foot on her carpet, the money will appear as if by magic. It is not how the world works.

A meeting with the premier might help Mr. Ford in his continuing attempt to appear in charge at city hall despite his disgrace. It would not help Toronto get its relief any faster. When Mr. Ford demands "call me," Ms. Wynne is right to demur.

Follow on Twitter: @marcusbgee

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