Councillor Josh Matlow

Toronto Life: Council votes to start the trash privitization process- but is the mayor already losing his magic touch?

The power of the thumb may be waning

Yesterday’s council debate started, fittingly, with a little trash talk. Rob Ford unleashed his inner loudmouth (which is basically the norm for him, only more divisive and insulting than normal) by calling the debate over contracting out the city’s garbage collection a choice between fiscal conservatives and “tax-and-spend socialists.” With a start like that, it’s no surprise that the day dragged into the night and basically became the most poisonous meeting we’ve witnessed since Ford came to power. Four interesting things we noticed about the heated affair after the jump.

1. It’s good to be named Josh
There were a slew of attempts from councillors trying to redirect Ford’s privatization plans, but the mayor’s strongest critics essentially struck out on all accounts—Shelley Carroll, Kristyn Wong-Tam and Mary Fragedakis all saw their amendments rejected by Ford via Giorgio Mammoliti’s extended thumbs-down gestures. Meanwhile, members of council’s mushy middle, including Joshes Matlow and Colle, saw their motions pass. We’re pretty sure we heard Glenn De Baeremaeker joke, “I need to change my name to Josh!”


2. Ever hear the phrase “poison pill”? How about “Trojan horse?”
After the votes were final, a funny thing happened: the anti-Fordists started to strut around as if they’d won. We even eavesdropped on one Ford critic saying, “We kicked their fucking ass today.” They might not be wrong: motions that were designed to increase the transparency—and the appearance of propriety—may end up delaying one of the mayor’s signature issues for months or even years.

3. Things are getting nasty
We can’t say whether we saw the most angry, shout-y, insult-laden session of council ever, but we’re pretty sure it’s in the top three. Frances Nunziata (as Speaker) tried to control both the councillors and audience, but failed to contain the verbal warfare. Of course, it didn’t help that she joined in the shouting. When it came time for her speak to the issue at hand, she abandoned the Speaker’s chair and sat as a regular councillor—something that’s supposed to show she’s not abusing her position. It’s not clear whether anyone noticed a difference.

4. Ford’s magic is wearing off
Every honeymoon eventually ends. While it’s far too soon to call this the beginning of the end, the iron lock that Ford has on his allies might be getting a little rusty. Several votes that Ford pooh-poohed (including most of the amendments that eventually passed) received majority support, despite the mayor’s instructions (the Mammoliti thumb) to his caucus. It’s a good thing the mayor has already accomplished so much of his agenda—things might get a lot tougher for him from here on in.

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