Don Valley East Councillor Shelley Carroll says she’ll run against Rob Ford if there’s a by-election to replace him – becoming the first of several anticipated candidates to announce they would throw their hats in the ring.
“If there’s a vote for a by-election then my vote is ‘yes’, and I’m declaring that I think I could do a damn sight better job of bringing this city together than Rob Ford can,” said Carroll Friday morning. “He, in fact, has come to power by very, very energetically working to keep this city torn apart. And it will destroy us. And it has to end.”
Carroll made the announcement the morning after a particularly fractious and uncivil debate Thursday evening. Mayor Ford had accused Trinity-Spadina Councillor Adam Vaughan of “shaking down” a developer of a site at Queen Street and University Avenue for $1 million in Section 37 money, in return for his support of a development which city planning staff didn’t support.
“All I’m saying is that looks like a shakedown,” Ford said in a heated exchange with Vaughan. “Call it what you want. That’s a problem. That is problematic, Councillor Vaughan, if you think that’s the right way to do business. It’s absolutely wrong.”
Ford’s accusation caused a ruckus among councillors that ultimately led to Deputy Speaker calling a recess, after Ford’s brother, City Councillor Doug Ford, shouted, “We’ll whup your ass,” and move in a way that Carroll said she thought was physically threatening.
Carroll, who has been contemplating a run for mayor in 2014 – as has Vaughan – called Ford’s actions “evil”, and said Torontonians needed to do everything they could to prevent Ford from being re-elected.
“It was an evil thing to do,” said Carroll.
Ford is on the verge of being thrown out of office over a conflict of interest ruling. Judge Charles Hackland on Monday released a decision giving Ford 14 days to vacate the office, and next week, Ford’s lawyers will be seeking a stay of that decision so that an appeal might be heard January 7.
On Friday, Hackland clarified the ruling to allow Ford to run in any by-election, rather than wait it out until the 2014 election.
Ford has said he will run in any by-election should it come to that – and Carroll said politicians looking to replace him need to come to an understanding.
“There are various discussions going on this weekend which have to take place amongst many of us,” she said. “We have to save this city from what we saw last night. What we saw last night was the real deal – a man who when he’s backed into a corner by the fact that he’s tried to blacken the reputation, make criminal accusations and basically destroy someone who he thinks is in his path in the council chamber, through lies and ignorance of the planning process – and when he’s backed into a corner, he got his henchman to jump of, fist cocked and lunge at the guy... that’s what we’re dealing with right now.
“Before Council turns into Korean parliament, we’ve got to save ourselves from this guy,” she said.
For his part, Vaughan said he, too, is considering running for mayor, and he’s trying to be open with his potential opponents.
“I’ve met with everybody including Karen Stintz through to Shelley Carroll and Olivia Chow and anyone else – with the exception of a couple of brothers,” said Vaughan. “I said ‘look, I’m going through the motions, I’m talking to people, if I approach people and they’re in your camp, I’m not trying to poach them, I’m trying to make my mind up.’ I think this campaign needs to be civil, intelligent, and find a way forward by putting good choices in front of people.”
Vaughan said he’s not concerned about strategizing so that only one strong candidate is running against Ford and his political machine.
“A year ago, I think (one candidate) was critical because of his standing in the polls,” said Vaughan. “Now you could run two or three candidates, and he’d have trouble running in third place. Ford is behind us. People no longer want a mayor who spends half his time in court and the other half at the sideline of a football team. If his behaviour this week at council is any indication, he hasn’t learned anything.”