Councillor Josh Matlow

CBC News: Rookie councillors learn city hall ropes

CBC News Online

9 November 2010

Newly elected councillors took to Toronto City Hall Tuesday for an orientation session that many likened to the first day of school.

Mike Layton dropped pennies into Metropolis, the sculptural mural that adorns the east wall inside the main doors of the building — a familiar ritual from his childhood, when his father, federal NDP Leader Jack Layton, was a Toronto councillor.

“It’s exciting to walk in these doors for the first time after growing up around here and knowing that it’s time to get to work and make a difference,” said Layton, who replaces failed mayoral candidate Joe Pantalone in Ward 19 (Trinity-Spadina).

Layton and the 13 other new councillors elected in the Oct. 25 vote were instructed by city staff about various administrative aspects as well as practical issues such as where to find washrooms in the building.

But not all the new councilors were getting the help they need. Mary Margaret McMahon, who unseated Sandra Bussin in Ward 32 (Beaches East-York), said Bussin wasn’t talking to her. Bussin, who was also at city hall on Tuesday, wouldn’t speak to the media.

McMahon said that makes her job “definitely harder.”

“It would be nice to have some sort of contact and get some ideas across,” she said. “But it doesn’t look like it’s happening right now.”

Matlow eyes economic development committee

Meanwhile, many have already started laying the groundwork for their places in the new council.

Josh Matlow, who was elected to Ward 22 (St. Paul’s), said councillors have already outlined their preferences for committees they’d like to sit on.

“I’d prefer to be on economic development,” Matlow said. “But again, that really is up to my colleagues and the mayor-elect as to where I’ll be sitting. I’ll work hard wherever I end up.”

Matlow said he hasn’t spoken to mayor-elect Rob Ford but like most newcomers, said he we wants to work with him.

“Where we agree on things, we’re going to work hard together,” he said. “Where we disagree, we’re going to be respectful. But we definitely want to change the tenor here and just get results.”

One of the first decisions for Matlow and the rest of the new council will likely be whether to get rid of the vehicle registration tax, which Ford has singled out as a priority. Matlow said he can probably support Ford on that issue.

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