Ford camp courting support from councillors
As Coun. Rob Ford shows momentum in the race to become Toronto's next mayor, some councillors are stepping forward to endorse him, with a possible surprise coming on Wednesday.
Coun. Giorgio Mammoliti (Ward 7, York West) has scheduled an announcement for that day. A spokesperson told CTV Toronto that the name "will surprise many."
On Wednesday evening, the Toronto Star and Globe and Mail newspapers suggested that Mammoliti will come out for Ford, who called him "Gino boy" in one 2002 council shouting match.
Mammoliti had been a mayoral candidate until he pulled out earlier this summer to try to defend his council seat.
Coun. Michael Del Grande (Ward 39, Scarborough-Agincourt) said Tuesday he will be supporting Ford, a 10-year council veteran.
"At the end of the day, you need 23 councillors on side," the chartered accountant said of the 44-member council plus the mayor. "If you don't have 23 councillors on side, you can't get anything done."
Ford -- who is the frontrunner according to a poll conducted for CTV Toronto, CP24 and the Globe by Nanos Research -- said he is interviewing councillors and is trying to build a "Team Ford" of supportive councillors.
"I'm saying, 'Here's some of the things Rob Ford wants to do. Would you support it?’'' he said.
Last month, retiring Coun. Kyle Rae (Ward 27, Toronto Centre-Rosedale) suggested that council would simply ignore Ford if he became mayor and would instead pick its own mayor.
Some right-leaning councillors -- including Karen Stintz (Ward 16, Eglinton-Lawrence), Denzil Minnan-Wong (Ward 34, Don Valley East) and Doug Holyday (Ward 3, Etobicoke Centre) -- said they will work with whoever becomes mayor.
As the polling showed them well behind, some candidates sharpened their attacks on Ford.
"What Rob Ford is trying to destroy is those things that define Toronto," said Deputy Mayor Joe Pantalone, who was running third in the Nanos Research poll released Sunday.
"He's attacking our values. He's attacking diversity, for example."
During a CP24 debate Tuesday evening, the topic of Ford’s earlier remarks about accommodating refugees came up. Ford said he welcomes newcomers to Toronto -- but repeated an erroneous statement that Toronto’s population is set to grow by one million people in 10 years.
Publisher Sarah Thomson, who was running fifth in the poll, joined the criticism.
"The kind of city Mr. Ford would create would be one where the fiscal stimulus would be gone. He wants to completely cut transit," she said.
Ford wants to end the Transit City plan for light rapid transit and instead spend the money on a subway expansion that would mainly serve northeast Toronto. He would also phase out streetcars on downtown streets.
In her economic plan released Tuesday, Thomson said that would
- reduce social services spending by two per cent by restructuring the Toronto Housing Corporation
- continue a hiring freeze and work towards a six per cent labour force reduction
- sell off some city properties
- open up some services to "managed competitive bidding"
- aim towards reducing commercial and residential property taxes once the city's finances have been stabilized
Former provincial cabinet minister George Smitherman plans to release his fiscal plan next Monday.
During the debate, Smitherman -- who is running second in the Nanos poll -- said Ford "just gave back about a billion dollars in revenue," but isn't coming clean on where the cuts to the city’s budget would land.
Ford gave some examples of past spending problems, primarily on capital projects, but Smitherman questioned him on what cuts he would make in the 2011 operating budget. He didn't get an answer.
Candidate Rocco Rossi had the same question for Smitherman, saying that his opponent had promised $300 million in revenue cuts.
Smitherman said his answer will come on Monday.
"Then you should cut the exact same slack to Mr. Ford," Rossi said.
"Well he hasn't given us his date," Smitherman responded.
With a report from CTV Toronto's Naomi Parness