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Ontario Minister says stripping Ford of mayoralty powers was legal, appropriate

Embattled Toronto mayor Rob Ford leaves his office Nov 18 2013, after a long day at city hall where a special council meeting stripped him of much of his power and budget.

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

Ontario's Municipal Affairs Minister says Toronto city council's decision to strip Mayor Rob Ford of most of his powers were legal and within the bounds of their authority.

"Based on the advice that I've received, they took actions that were within their control," Linda Jeffrey said Tuesday at Queen's Park.

On Monday, council removed a long list of Mr. Ford's powers – including the right to chair the city's cabinet-like executive committee – and transferred them to Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly. Mr. Ford has said the move amounts to a "coup d'etat" and that he will challenge it in court.

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But Ms. Jeffrey threw cold water on that assertion.

Asked if councillors were operating within the bounds of provincial laws, she replied: "Absolutely. Yeah. I think they took steps that were part of their delegation power and they took measures that they felt were reasonable."

She said the province will now be dealing with Mr. Kelly on civic issues instead of Mr. Ford.

"I think logistically, based on the decision they made yesterday, it would be Norm Kelly," she said. Asked if Mr. Kelly was now the point-person at the city, she said: "That's my understanding he is, yes."

The Minister said she had not received any legal papers from Mr. Ford, but was not concerned at the prospect of a court challenge.

"I'm not worried," she said. "I think that certainly everyone has an opportunity to speak to legal counsel about decisions they think are fair or not fair."

Despite Mr. Ford's status, she said he would still be invited to provincial events.

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"Absolutely, he's always welcome," she said. "I like all members of council, happy to work with all of them."

The province is not planning to take any action of its own on Mr. Ford. But Ms. Jeffrey said that Premier Kathleen Wynne's position from last week still stands: that the province will consider giving council more power to deal with the Mayor if councillors ask.

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