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Opportunities abound for back-stabbing, naked ambition and private and personal interest to triumph over the public good. Just look at the cast of characters sniffing around the mayor’s entrails even before the judge-coroner pronounces him politically dead; now imagine the crab-barreling frenzy to come.
Rob Ford wouldn’t have a vote, but the notorious tightwad favours a byelection, costing between $ 7 million and $ 9 million, because he knows council won’t reappoint him. Reclaiming his job is more important than saving taxpayers millions. He’s like the rest of them, after all.
The mayor’s brother, Councillor Doug, willing to cut funding to library branches and fire halls, says never mind the cost of a byelection. You can’t put a price tag on democracy. But if city council decides to appoint a replacement for Rob Ford, why not keep it in the family, Doug.
Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday is an unassuming man with a Mount Vesuvius temper he’s managed to cap while standing beside the volcanic Fords. He’s always coveted the mayor’s job, but lacked the charisma, cachet and confidence to go for the prize. Now, here it is, within reach. If he plays his cards right he might ascend the throne.
He must not appear ambitious; must be the loyal aide, though he considers his master a bumbling boob, and hope that his council colleagues see him as a benign caretaker. Then, in 2014, having tasted power, he can ask voters to remove the interim tag — even if that means going up against Rob Ford looking for a comeback.
The other conservatives and right-leaning city councillors are conflicted and confused.
Take Denzil Minnan-Wong. Since a judge ruled Ford must leave his office, Minnan-Wong has struggled to conceal his desire to kick the mayor to the curb. He and supporters have been plotting a run at the mayoralty, should a byelection be called. He knows council would not appoint him to the job. And another thing: He’s a big John Tory supporter. He can’t declare too soon — not until Tory says he’s not interested.
Councillor Michael Thompson wants to be mayor, but the polling numbers don’t support a push in an election. Giorgio Mammoliti’s name is toxic, political chameleon that he is. Gloria Lindsay Luby figures her best chance at ever wearing the mayor’s chain of office is to convince the non-aligned eight or so council votes that she — not Holyday — is a better fit for a harmonious council. Peter Milczyn? Well, if Lindsay Luby and Mammoliti throw their names in the hat to seek the appointment, why not him? Ditto for Norm Kelly, the former MP who once ran for mayor of Scarborough?
So, when these councillors have to decide between appointment — which might benefit them — or byelection, where they have no chance of winning, what do you think will tip the balance?
One conservative with a particularly difficult choice is Karen Stintz. She has legitimate pull at the polls. She’s said she won’t run against Rob Ford. But is this her best chance to run for mayor? And, frankly, doesn’t she have a legitimate claim to ask council to appoint her as Ford’s replacement, avoiding a direct contest with Ford?
Ford Nation sees Stintz as a traitor for crossing Ford on transit. But her conservative credentials are sound. And she has considerable support across all political lines on city council.
If council’s conservatives are confused, the progressives are discombobulated.
They know they can’t appoint one of their own to the job, as this would appear too crass when the people voted in a conservative mayor. What then? Appoint the candidate least likely to create a lasting political obstacle. That is why there is a big push to demand that the appointee promise not to run in the 2014 election.
If that can’t be assured, then now may be as good a time as any to contest an election and defeat Ford. The problem? Who to carry the banner for the left and progressives? Adam Vaughan, Shelley Carroll, MP Olivia Chow? The choice has come a year too early. But the conditions may never be as favourable.