Mayor Rob Ford’s Executive Committee met at City Hall yesterday. But the meeting was missing something: Mayor Rob Ford.
After attending the morning session, Ford skipped out on the rest of the day so he could go coach football. The mayor’s office confirmed the reason for the mayor’s absence today, via the Globe & Mail’s Kelly Grant.
This wasn’t a minor meeting. Executive Committee is where some of the most crucial items come before they head to council for a vote. It’s also usually the last opportunity councillors have to hear deputations from the public before items are voted on. Chairing this committee is one of the mayor’s major job responsibilities.
Yesterday, the committee considered everything from the council’s anti-discrimination policy to future uses for Casa Loma. They looked at important budget matters that will directly impact next year’s finances. They even considered a new policy for special events, something the mayor made an issue of during his election campaign when he complained about marathons shutting down city streets. Despite claims from his press secretary, several of these issues are contentious or will be contentious going forward. And Ford wasn’t there to speak or vote on any of these items. Because of football.
It was clear something was amiss early on in the meeting, when the mayor proposed that councillors work through lunch. His colleagues didn’t bite—any reasonable read of the agenda made it clear that the meeting was going to take at least the full day. This was the first major City Hall meeting in nearly three months, making for a long list of items up for consideration.
Ford can’t realistically claim to think they could wrap things up quickly. He also can’t realistically claim to have had an honest scheduling conflict, given that these meeting dates are set nearly a year in advance. The only plausible explanation—barring some kind of football-related emergency, I guess—is that Ford puts a greater priority on coaching football than he does on running the city.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to help kids play football. Were Ford simply a philanthropic business-owner from Etobicoke with a zeal for youth football, his character and values would be beyond reproach. None of us would have any right to criticize.
But he’s not just that. He’s the Mayor of Toronto, CEO of a public corporation dealing in multi-billion dollar budgets with a staff of nearly 50,000 people. He’s got a job that comes with immense responsibility. He should not have the luxury of cutting out of work early to go coach football.
To really make the point about the importance of attending meetings, look to Councillor Ron Moeser, who yesterday emailed his colleagues to apologize for and explain his absence at many recent council and committee meetings. His excuse? He’s got a giant metal deathtrap of a brace on his leg, owing to ongoing medical problems. He even included a picture of the contraption in his email.
And then there’s Ford, able-bodied, skipping meetings because he’d rather coach football.
It doesn’t add up. In the last week, we’ve learned that our mayor doesn’t read documents, doesn’t know rules and regulations that govern his position and—now—that he will leave work halfway through the day.
Given all this, it’s fair to ask: does Rob Ford even want to be mayor?