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Diversity in doubt as Ford ally moves to executive

Toronto city councillor Vincent Crisanti, seen here in his Etobicoke ward in 2010, has joined council’s influential executive commitee.

Peter Power/Peter Power/The Globe and Mail

Vincent Crisanti is set to join Mayor Rob Ford's powerful executive committee – the latest addition to a group that some councillors have complained lacks diversity.

Mr. Crisanti, a Ford loyalist who represents Ward 1 (Etobicoke North), was voted to executive during a striking committee meeting Wednesday. The appointment must still be formally approved by council.

Mr. Crisanti's appointment would mean 12 of the 13 people on the cabinet-like executive are men. That's in stark contrast to former mayor David Miller's executive in 2010, which had more women and more representatives of downtown wards.

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Three other councillors had expressed interest in the executive post, including Ward 20 (Trinity-Spadina) representative Adam Vaughan, one of the mayor's most vocal critics. Left-leaners Maria Augimeri of Ward 9 (York Centre) and Janet Davis, of Ward 31 (Beaches-East York) had also submitted their names.

Both Mr. Vaughan and Ms. Augimeri had cited the importance of having diverse voices on executive. Mr. Vaughan said the city works best when people from all corners are heard.

Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday, the Ward 3 (Etobicoke Centre) councillor who serves as the striking committee's chair, said he would like to see more diversity on executive. But Mr. Holyday, who sits on executive himself, said it must have councillors who will support the mayor's agenda.

"We're not going to have people in our midst that are just there to disrupt the process," he said in an interview. "That's where most of these people are coming from."

Mr. Holyday said he knows full well what it's like to be snubbed from executive. He said the same thing happened to him during Mr. Miller's reign.

"He nicely thanked me, but said no thanks. And I appreciate that. I wasn't going to be supporting their agenda and I can understand why they wouldn't want me there," Mr. Holyday said.

He noted that councillors who are not on executive are not excluded from the meetings. He said they are free to participate in everything but the final vote.

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Mr. Crisanti was not at Wednesday's meeting but tweeted afterwards he was "looking forward" to his new role. He was not the only councillor to be appointed to a committee, as Frances Nunziata, of Ward 11 (York South-Weston), was named to the budget committee.

The executive seat opened up last month when Ward 39 (Scarborough-Agincourt) representative Mike Del Grande resigned.

Other councillors have also left executive in recent months. Giorgio Mammoliti, of Ward 7 (York West), stepped down in November, on the same day the mayor was ordered removed from office. (That ruling was later overturned.) Mr. Mammoliti said at the time he was stepping down at the urging of his constituents. He later said he left executive to investigate a conspiracy against him.

Michelle Berardinetti, of Ward 35 (Scarborough Southwest), stepped down a few weeks before Mr. Mammoliti, saying she was tired of being pressured to vote with the mayor.

Mr. Ford's executive after Mr. Crisanti's appointment remains radically different from Mr. Miller's executive in August, 2010, when its last meeting was held. Mr. Miller's executive featured four women at the time, as well as councillors from several downtown wards.

Mr. Miller's executive, conversely, did not reach as far into the suburbs.

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