Ford’s call for Etobicoke byelection betrays his heritage
It’s hard to believe a tightwad like Mayor Rob Ford would want an expensive by-election to fill a vacated city council seat for barely a year.
Ford told a community meeting Wednesday that he wants a special meeting of Toronto city council to vote for a by-election to fill the Etobicoke Centre seat vacated by Doug Holyday, who won a provincial by-election earlier this month.
“You can’t put a price on democracy,” he said.
Why not? The price, between $175,000 and $225,000, is hard to swallow, considering the next city-wide election will be held in October of 2014, just 14 months away.
A by-election wouldn’t be held before mid-October, so whoever is elected would serve only until the end of 2014, before the new council term begins.
A cynic might think the Ford Bros. have a candidate that they’re prepared to push and think will win. That person would have a big advantage in the election next fall; incumbents seldom lose.
How else to explain Ford’s fervent interest in democracy?
It makes more dollars and sense to appoint an interim councillor for the final year of a four-year term, on the understanding they don’t run in the next election. Lots of worthy candidates would jump at the chance.
And to be fair to those who elected Holyday, council should appoint someone with a similar fiscal outlook. Holyday was always in a photo finish with Ford as the biggest skinflint.
As a rule of thumb, previous councils have appointed a replacement for a vacated seat, but usually after the half-way point of the council term has passed.
If the next election was two or more years away, a by-election would be the right thing to do. The cost would be worth it.
But it’s a waste of money to hold an election to fill a seat for barely a year, when an appointment would do the trick.
Ford made his bones on the little things – no more sandwiches at meetings, reducing council office budgets – but says it’s worth $225,000 for an election that isn’t needed.
He’s shooting an angle, as they say at the poker table.