Hundreds line up to meet Mayor Rob Ford at New Year’s Levee
Pat Hewitt, CTV Toronto
Published Tuesday, January 1, 2013 10:50AM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, January 1, 2013 7:02PM EST
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford said it was good to come out and meet people as a couple of hundred city residents turned out at his annual New Year’s Levee Tuesday afternoon.
Ford and city councillors shook hands with people who lined up on the red carpet at the city hall rotunda.
Ford said one of his goals for 2013 is to keep tax increases low to keep more money in taxpayers’ pockets.
That sits well with Ross Virgin, who lined up to pat Ford on the back for cutting spending at city hall.
“Thank you for sticking to your promise,” Virgin told CP24.
Ford is also hoping the New Year brings an end to the NHL lockout so the Leafs can get back into action.
The mayor also took to Twitter to kick off 2013 with a greeting: “Wishing all of Toronto a very safe Happy New Year in 2013. May this be the best and most prosperous year for all.’”
This year’s levee almost didn’t happen.
The event was cancelled by the mayor’s office in early December and was to be replaced by skating parties. But after a public outcry, that plan was scrapped and the levee -- a tradition in Toronto since 1968 -- was back on.
Ford may be happy to have 2012 behind him, as the year was filled with controversy.
In late November, an Ontario Superior Court judge ordered Ford be removed from office after finding he violated the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act by voting on a motion that excused him from repaying $3,150 in donations to his football foundation that he solicited using official city letterhead in 2010. A stay was granted until the appeal is heard on Jan. 7.
“It’s up to the courts and we’ll see what happens,” Coun. Doug Ford, the mayor’s brother, said on Tuesday.
An audit of the mayor’s 2010 election expenses is also due to be released this month.
And last week, a judge dismissed a $6-million defamation lawsuit against Ford launched by Toronto restaurant owner George Foulidis. The Boardwalk Pub owner had alleged the mayor had suggested to the Toronto Sun editorial board during the 2010 election campaign that a 20-year leasing deal between Foulidis's company, Tuggs Inc., and the city was corrupt. Ford testified he was only suggesting the sole-source untendered deal didn’t follow the proper tendering process and never mentioned Foulidis by name.
In the summer, a photo was snapped of Ford showing him reading while driving on the Gardiner Expressway, sparking calls including from Toronto police for the mayor to hire a driver. Ford said he was busy trying to catch up with his work but was keeping his eyes on the road.
During last year’s levee, hundreds of people lined up to shake the mayor’s hand, but there were a couple of demonstrators who were escorted out after protesting against city hall budget cuts.
Toronto's levee was one of several around the Greater Toronto Area on Tuesday.
Lt.-Gov. David Onley also welcomed visitors at his annual levee at the Ontario legislature Tuesday afternoon and tweeted “Happy New Year” to Ontario residents.
Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion met the public at the civic centre while Brampton Mayor Susan Fennell greeted hundreds of residents at the Rose Theatre.
Fennell tweeted an important mandate for 2013 is strengthening relations with China and India and marketing Brampton to the world.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford greets a member of the public at the annual New Year’s levee on Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford briefly takes the stage to greet the crowd as part of the New Year’s Eve celebrations at Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto on Monday, December 31, 2012. (Michelle Siu / THE CANADIAN PRESS)