Forget the by-election. Let’s appoint a caretaker mayor, and from the right
Rob Ford hasn’t even vacated the mayor’s office and already the list of councillors who covet his job – even Brother Doug Ford – is as long as your arm.
And their chance to grasp the chain of office is contingent on a by-election, which will cost the taxpayers $7 million to vote in a mayor who is unlikely to serve for more than 18 months.
My colleague Royson James provided a rundown of councillors who are drooling at the prospect of an unexpected, side-door opportunity to become mayor, at least for a short period, and position themselves as the incumbent for the 2014 election.
James identified Doug Ford, Karen Stintz, Denzil Minnan-Wong, Doug Holyday, Michael Thompson, Adam Vaughan and Shelley Carroll as potential candidates. You can add George Mammoliti to the list, and maybe one or two others.
Ford will appeal his removal from office, which should be dealt with by late winter. But if the court order that punted him is upheld – a likely prospect - city council will have to decide if his replacement is appointed or elected.
There is a huge advantage to whoever is the interim mayor, if that person wants to run for a full term in 2014. Incumbents are much harder to knock out of the box.
Pretenders to the throne would prefer a by-election, and the more candidates, the merrier. If five councillors run for the abbreviated term, a relatively tiny number of votes could be enough to win.
So we can expect high enthusiasm from council for a by-election, but for all the wrong reasons.
However much it serves the interests of would-be mayors, it needlessly imposes a huge cost on taxpayers, and only to better position the winner for the 2014 election.
It would make much more sense to appoint a caretaker mayor from the current council, which costs nothing and provides no political advantage to anyone other than the appointee.
Council could even appoint someone who agrees not to run for mayor in 2014, so as not to confer any advantage to that person.
Among the complaints of those who are disappointed by Ford’s spectacular flameout – unparalleled in Toronto’s history; kaboom! – is that it subverts the will of the majority who voted him in, over a relatively minor offense.
If a caretaker is appointed, it is vitally important that it not be anyone from the left, like Vaughan or Carroll, but someone whose politics reflects the will of those who voted in Ford.
For the left to scheme and inveigle to appoint one of their own - if only because they have the numbers to pull it off - would be to ignore and invalidate the results of the 2010 mayoral election.
Whatever you or I or the lefty councillors think of the decision to elect Ford, it would be flat-out wrong to say “meet your new mayor, Ms. Shelley Carroll,” to those electors, instead of a candidate whose politics more closely reflect their viewpoint.
On that score, no one is better suited to the caretaker’s job than Holyday, a former mayor of Etobicoke (pre-amalgamation) and Ford’s hand-picked deputy.
He is experienced, classy, and a conservative tightwad whose thriftiness rivals Ford’s. Nobody that voted for Ford would mind if Holyday subbed for him, given the circumstances.
I’d be okay with him getting the caretaker’s job and then running for the real thing in 2014. I know him well and think he’d be a good mayor.
But if the giddiness accompanying Ford’s ouster causes the left to install one of their own as a caretaker, or go for a $7 million by-election that nobody except them wants or needs, they will have done a terrible disservice to those who fairly and squarely elected Ford.