Trinity-Spadina Councillor Adam Vaughan missed the draft for Mayor Rob Ford’s all-suburban Executive Committee as council voted to support the mayor’s pick to fill the empty spot on his team.
Only 14 councillors voted to put Vaughan on the powerful committee, a move that would have overruled Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday’s striking committee that chose Ford loyalist, Etobicoke North Councillor Vince Crisanti, over Vaughan, a vocal critic of the mayor.
Vaughan, championed by left-of-centre ally Joe Mihevc, argued the Executive Committee needed some representation from Toronto’s downtown core. Since the 2010 election, Ford’s Executive Committee has included not a single councillor from the Toronto-East York Community Council area.
“At some point, I do think it’s important for us to say enough is enough,” said Mihevc (St. Paul’s). “When you have a situation where there’s not a councillor from Toronto and East York, that’s not fair. I think we cross a line when it’s total absolute exclusion both in Round 1 and in Round 2 now.”
Ford, however, was having none of it. In a speech to council, he said downtown councillors are welcome to come before the Executive Committee, make speeches and suggest motions that might be moved by members.
He said he didn’t want Vaughan on the committee because he wouldn’t be supportive of the Ford agenda.
“You want to put people on that are going to disrupt our committee — and I don’t think it’s right,” Ford said. “If you’re not going to support the agenda, you’re going to put a tax and spend lefty on there and I don’t want that.”
As newer councillors rose to speak, the debate veered into a critique of the extent to which council has become divided. Beaches-East York Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon said council was behaving like her teenage children.
“I’ve even baked for you,” said McMahon, expressing a deep disappointment with council that was shared by others including Toronto Centre-Rosedale Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam.
“I have never walked into a place that is more politically poisonous and charged,” she said. It was unlikely, Wong-Tam continued, that a single contrarian voice on the committee would derail the agenda.
“Why is there so much fear?” she said. “Quite honestly, I think Councillor Vaughan is swimming upstream. Can members of this council not rally together and say let’s put Councillor Vaughan on this committee and just give him a chance?”
For his part, Vaughan said his sole reason for being on the committee was to give the downtown area some representation.
“The reason I’ve asked for my name to be put forward is simply geography,” he said.
Crisanti, who was finally appointed to the committee, spoke only briefly.
“I’m honoured to serve on this committee,” he said. “I know the importance of it. I know I will serve it very, very well.”