John Tory responds to reported PC plan to slash number of city councillors
my fundamental responsibilities is to protect the Democracy which binds our society together the Bedrock of that democracy is fair process that the people always have an opportunity to be heard by their government and that’s why when things are meddled with when the very rules that guide them or upset mid-campaign people regardless of their political Strife are rightly angry this is a gigantic decision about the future of Toronto like many of you I read news reports last night about changes that are being proposed to the size of Toronto City Council the largest city in the country the fourth largest city in North America I then spoke to Premier forward and told him in no uncertain terms that the process around is stunning and massive change is absolutely not right I want to be clear I told him repeatedly during that conversation that I welcome a discussion around how are city is government in fact I raise one aspect of a number of days ago in an view on the subject of the mayor’s powers like many people in the city I believe we need a discussion of both the role of the mayor as well as a discussion about the size of council and other issues including term limits again I repeat it Premier a number of times in our discussion my own willingness to support proper public discussion of all of those issues what we don’t need and what I just can’t support is changed being rammed down our throats without a single Kenda public consultation and on top of that done in the middle of the election. Itself you don’t change the rules in the middle of the game that is not right and that is not fair I have always believed that I have been consistent on that is Mayor not changing the rules in the middle of the game because it is just not the right way to bring about change but that’s what we have here hundreds of people for example I put their names forward to run for Council they raise money they broke campaigning and all of a sudden they’re being told stop we’re not doing it that way anymore what happens to them do they continue on or do they change where they’re running how does that work and the answer is we don’t know this affects the way people I represented the very structure of the government closest to the people and the notion that we will make significant change to that structure without absolutely any public consultation with no public consultation or discussion with the people isn’t right is it necessary change of this magnitude should always happen with a degree of consultation that allows the public to be hurt we’ve actually heard those very words from this government on other issues in this case we are talk about the city of 3 million people they deserve to be hurt they promised to be a government before government did for the people they campaigned on that everyday and so I would say to be true to your words if you are truly a government for the people then let’s put this question to the people let them decide and so I will be moving emotion later this morning at city council or this afternoon at 2 instructor city clerk’s to find way to have a referendum held whether it’s on the ballot for the October 22nd election or otherwise and the question can be very simple do you support reducing the size of the city council from 47 to 25 yes or no it isn’t so much the and that matters as it is the fact there will then be on that question or on the whole matter of this a very full a public discussion in the fullest and most open possible way we would live with the result whatever it is but at least the people it will be the people all of them who choose to vote who will decide we are here to serve our residents they pay the bills they are the ones that put us in office and so they should get to have the say to unilaterally decide in the middle of a election campaign to make a massive change in the way the city is governed isn’t right and it isn’t fair one of the reasons we live in the greatest country in the world is because we collectively make rules and we follow them and when we change the rules we do it in a way that listens to the public and follows one form or another of due process the city I want to lead is one we’re elected representatives the mayor in particular listens to the people that is the very Foundation of our Civic system and of our democracy it’s true The Province does have broad powers to do as it chooses when it comes to the city of Toronto the way the law is set up the city of Toronto is a creation of but this is a city that is booming it is a city that is admired around the world it’s a city that is a magnet for talent and jobs and investment it’s a city with an economy that powers The Province and with that admired way of life and its admired not just in the rest of the country but around the world and all of those wonderful things are because of the people who call Toronto home the three million people who live here they’ve never been asked about this it’s never been discussed with them I hear people this morning talking about conversations and consultations in discussions and debates there haven’t been any of those things on a major decision that affects them and their civic democracy at the very least don’t they deserve a say and how their government and to me the answer to that question is simple and the answer that question is yes they do the people should decide well I have no idea what to do you know his particular motivations are I had a conversation with him last night that was like tea and it was animated it was a constructive discussion back and forth but I had about the way this is being done but I didn’t get into asking him you know exactly what all the motivations were behind him doing and he has his own motivations I’m sure he’ll talk about it when he has his own a news conference this morning but I don’t know I just don’t get into that kind of speculation I will say this removing a motion to hold a referendum I’ll also be putting in my motion that we should be asking lawyers inside and outside the city government to take a look at the different lost but I can see the point I think we all know this to be true and I am a lawyer City of Toronto Act is a provincial piece of legislation it creates the city as an entity it sets a lot of the rules off about how the city operates and that’s always been the reality under our constitution cities and towns are creations of the Rachel Rachel legislature and so we will take a look at those things because I think it’s important to do so but I start from the premise that I do understand whether I like it or not but the province is very broad you know latitude to do things that affect the city of Prado especially when there’s a majority government of Queens Park that’s just the reality legal challenges part of the city clerk cited Supreme Court legislation came to happy people representations you don’t know referendum is already decided on the way it wants to go well when you say they letting the premiere set the term of referendum the referendum that I’m talking about would be one that probably would be initiated by us and so so ideally within the constraints of the law out we would be the one setting the terms of the referendum but having said that that you know that I have never supported increasing the size of counsel you’ve heard me say that I’ve never run into a voter yet or maybe just one or two who said we need more so I actually voted against increasing the size of the city council but I think that and I said again I repeat I said repeatedly that I was willing to a CS have a a broad public changing the size of the city council to reduce it and and and other things that relate to the better governance of the city but I think going about it this way ever regardless of what is going on in the past he is just not right because one thing is for sure when they were discussing revised when we had a provincial election recently and a host of other things that may have gone in the last number we did not have and have not had a specific discussion on the idea of reducing from 47 to 25 the size of the city council and I think that should happen with the people because I think the people should have something to say about that whatever it may be I wouldn’t presume to know what they’ll say but I sure think they should be asked and I think the the referendum campaign against people not only a chance to have activating the very open waiting for everybody to you know to State their position but it also gives people down the chance to vote and we will see what the public think about this is wrong with that we’re being premature and trying to get to that conclusion what I’m saying is this I want our lawyers and I think this is the orderly proper way to go about it I can’t talk about following good process and then sort of run off and say we should be launching a court challenge tomorrow morning the first thing I want to do is to get legal opinion as they say it can be from both the or either of inside or outside lawyers as to exactly what are legal position is but I do start from the premise of understanding because I’m a liar because I read the city of Round Rock and I understand the Constitution as most people I think through the that I know that the province has very broad latitude about what they can do Visa V the city of Toronto and you can say that’s good or bad the fathers of Confederation decided that in 1867 there’s been actually very little change made to that constitutional reality since that time so I think the first thing for us to do is to get somebody to objectively assess our legal position and then I think once you have that information in hand I you can decide whether it’s you know whether it’s a feasible advisable proposition to take action under any of those advice so I’m I’m very willing and anxious and I will put a motion for it to get the legal opinions and get going on that right away immediately but I just know I won’t then go to the next step and say that I know what the actions are going to be coming out of that simply because I don’t know what the opinions going to say multiple times actually that part of the processes they have to consult there’s an obligation to city in the province to consult with each other and major issues of Interest right in the ACT it’s interesting you say that because there is a drug words those types of words in the city of contract is also another acting if you ask me right now to remember the name of it is some ACT I think it’s called like the Toronto Ontario cooperation act or something that requires on certain matters in these are the kinds of things I haven’t had time to sort of review all these statues overnight and I’m not what you be doing it we have experts here that can do that and we set the ball and in motion to have them look at it and I will hopefully finalize that with emotion that Council would approve today to get them to either give us a formal legal opinion or do and or to get one from the other side on precisely spiders because well I don’t question that the problem has very broad authority to deal with the city of Toronto there are words in different statutes that may allow for us to assert you know very forcefully the notion that there is some degree of cooperation and consultations at expected in required here because I think the public expects that they fell off back that up and that’s something obviously we want to assert in court or somewhere else it grinds to a halt that time since I think you know I’ve said before if there’s no simple answer to these questions I’ve said before that actually city council gets a fair number of things done a relative to other legislative bodies but on the other hand there are times and days when it seems to be you know manifest the unproductive and when we were sort of inhibited from moving forward with the agenda that the people want to see us pursue because of you know what goes on in that body and so what I’m saying is that what we need to do I said I’m very willing to have the discussion about altering the size of the city council I have never heard anybody saying it should be altered up anybody among the public to side from the odd person and so we should look at that but we should look at it in a kind of a thoughtful you know careful most particularly when I say we should look at it we should be asking the public about it and if they if they had if they been asked some other time and voted on this or otherwise but they haven’t been ass nobody even heard of this until you know basically last night and and so I I think that the public should be asking they should be the ones who should give us their advice with respect to how they believe they should be represented and I’m quite willing to go along with what they have to say on this because I think that they’re very wise when it comes to these things and they consider things very carefully and they know that there are no but they usually you can come to the right answer I’ll come around they seek and opportunity to do can you put that Genie box see what I’m standing here saying today is that the that the important part for today that I take great issue with his the process and end I am standing here saying that if the public said you know clearly one where the other than one thing about a referendum you will get a result that says they are there are in favor or post something at that to you then with no that’s how they felt and I would be work they have been asking if we had a thorough debate on this and I agree with you it wouldn’t be in place for this election that’s a part of the process that I have some trouble with witches that we are not only doing this in a way that has been utterly without any consultation with the public whatsoever but we are also doing it in the middle of an election campaign it’s quite an unprecedented thing and so yes obviously wanted was also having a referendum coincident with the election would be that it wouldn’t be effective for this election but at the same time at least you would then know because they would be the boat itself and a very long debate that would proceed if that would give you an idea of what the public do think about this one assumes after they listen to all the different points of view the people that have and so I just think that is a much better way to go about this I think these kinds of things with the public understand is this the understand they’re going to be different points of view and they understand that there could be one result of the other but what they want to see as to whether it’s on this decision or any other is do it the right way and they they certainly think doing things the right way is that they should be involved in one way or another in some degree of consultation if if what had happened last night was that I got a phone call saying it was going to be study panel it was going to go and have public hearings on this matter I would have said what will show up will be you know but that wasn’t what I was told in the phone call I had actually read it in the news reports before that which was in itself is quite surprising but no we didn’t discuss that specific matter I mean I did make a point of saying that this was not something that was discussed in the election campaign and just tell you he first mentioned this to me almost in passing had a nicer to look and said you know what he said he said it was for this election and I always had at the time cuz I was just not expecting it would be raising it wasn’t raised in any way that I was either ask for my opinion or that it was seemingly anything that was going to happen right away and I just said but I don’t really think that’s practical because I was more focused when I just first heard this on the notion that it was not practical to do it I mean you know like literally we were right in the middle of the election campaign and it was the discussion passed because he didn’t Serta pursue the matter and we were in the middle he just mentioned the matter at the private meeting that I had with him in his office that meeting whatever the only meeting I’ve had with him in private to since since then and then you let you know you know David I mean the proof that is not the case is the fact that the powers of the mayor are not to be dealt with according to every report that I’ve seen and everything that I’ve heard in this particular piece of legislation so that is just not it’s not the case in in in fact I will tell you only what my conversation with with him was last night when I was when I had put in front of me here by him and buy the newspaper reports exactly what their plans were which is that text Randy was issue with the process here and with what they were the way they were going about doing this although I said I was quite willing to have a discussion about a whole variety of these issues including the size of council term limits the mayor’s powers and I’m willing to discuss all of it he didn’t say that no it wasn’t put on the basis that he was planning to do it he said that he’d do you know you’ve had that easy sweep he’s talked about it before and I actually started this missed it on the basis of saying well that’s not something that you could be done like that were in the middle of the election campaign and the matter dropped at that stage because I didn’t have the sense he was pursuing it either so when you talk to your for yesterday I mean is that part of the equation and you expect that to be the next sort of shoe to drop I will only tell you then that conversation that I had I wish him last night there was no mention of anything else except for the matters that are under discussion here today which is his intention to move forward with a piece of legislation I think on Monday or today that had to do with the size of the city council uploading to the Providence I would I would I would welcome them deciding to take on more responsibility for things that they should have more responsibility for I said that many times I mean the rule for example and housing I should be dramatically increased and should be dramatically increased as a legislative matter as opposed to being at the whim of any given a government at any point in time so I bet there was no mention of any of that as far as I can tell from what he said last night and that’s the eBay Savannah pain which I have to go there that there is there are no other matters that they have on their mind at this point in time other than specifically to do with the government’s question and they’re specifically and only to do with the size of counsel there was no discussion of eat at the strong marriage thing for example I’m I’m relying on reports that said that that was specifically not going to be dealt with in this in this piece of legislation makeup consultation ironically quite frankly I think you will have to take a look at what the different rules are the governor ability to have a referendum and so I I can’t read that question right now but I just think there should be one and I think it would be convenient and and less expensive and they’re probably sort of sensible to have it on the same day as the election but I think we’re going to have to take a look at we know what abilities we have and and all I would say is that I want to seek the cooperation of the public service the cooperation of and up if necessary of the province because I would say to the problems people who could be against having a referendum and letting the people be heard and letting the people decide and so I would hope everybody would say well you know this is actually a great way to deal with this I ended it solves the two problems that get you the advice of the public and it gets you the opportunity to have a very full discussion and consultation with the public on it and so let’s have a referendum again somebody said to me that we still have the opportunity and the only way we could do it is to have a non-binding referendum but still have one so we can have this very full discussion and have the results of a vote I’d still take that as being better than where we are today where we have a major major decision about democracy Varsity the level of government closest to the people that is being dramatically changed without any consultation whatsoever so I would take almost any kind of referendum I mean I just I just put think it’s it’s a very advisable and a very fair and a very open the way in which to have this discussion and have this debate and get the advice of the public and so are these are the kinds of questions though that we have to look into us to what the tools we have at our disposal and what help we might need to actually make a referendum happen but I strongly believe it would be a good thing for us to do would you see the you were batteries take place in 2022 would you be comfortable with the idea of having more electoral upheaval election down the road I think the the more sensible way to go vote this is to have the referendum and you know let that be a guide to what we actually do here with the point I’m making today is that we’re going ahead to make a change and I said I’m not unwilling to discuss that change but what’s happening now is we are on a path to have that change made by government at a different level at the Queen’s Park without any consultation with the people whatsoever and I think that’s wrong and so I think at least a referendum campaign whatever day that was held would give us the opportunity get in no uncertain terms what the views of the public are and more importantly preceding the day of the vote having a very open and foland and informed discussion about a major change and so I’m not in a position where I can stand here today and say what kind referendum would be you know how it could be carried out because there are rules that would have to determine how that happened I’m just saying we should have one and we should have one and that should that should precede a reduction because if you if you if you allow the reduction to happen then you have a referendum presumes that whatever the other, is it doesn’t matter I actually don’t come from that place I come from the place that says the people’s views on this really matter that you certainly should have consulted them before moving forward with any of this kind of thing and that the best way consult them now given that we are where we are as to have a referendum and then whatever those results so I can be taken into account in terms of what happens legislatively going forward from there well the matter wasn’t discussed and so how to say to you the matter wasn’t discussed I mean it’s hard to sort of mislead people when you don’t discuss at something but this matter was not just got to the best of my knowledge I mean I haven’t seen we start to look last night to see if they’ve been some reference to that we might have missed and I don’t it was any discussion of this during the course of the election campaign and so in that sense it wasn’t disgusting so I’m just saying it wasn’t discussed and then that is something that I think is a fact that I haven’t seen anything to a contradict that will take one more question no no actually didn’t say to you that the only two times I’ve ever seen any real reference to this was the book in which I read and it was kind of against her passing reference at to it and then in this one time two weeks ago there was a passing reference that was her to drop so quickly I didn’t even think it was anything that was you know going to be taken seriously it was just a mention of something that really be possible so that’s it I mean there has been no I was not aware they said on the radio so I didn’t go back in and read the transcript of that I’m not sure I have it anyway so yeah you know I’m angry at the process because I think it is disrespectful of the people most of all that in that I think the people when it’s a major change being made to there democracy deserve to be consulted in some way shape or form I just think that make bring about a change as big as this is not right and I and I and I so I try to be what I think and they tell me this all the time they expect me to speak up for them to stand up for them and I believe I’m doing that this morning and saying that those people that I represent deserve a chance to be hurt I happen to believe the best way to do that in a way the simplest way would be through a referendum and the campaign that would proceed you know I’m not happy about being caught short in this way where I get to a first of all I read a newspaper reporter to at 9 at night it was preceded by rumors floating around in the afternoon and then I got a phone call telling me something major that is going to affect the four biggest city in North America the biggest city in Canada and a thriving democracy in the middle of its for yearly election campaign is going to have the rules changed in the middle of the game I think you see me before react to circumstances where rules are being changed negative way but I have my own way I mean I I I try to be a rational person I think that’s the way the public expect me to behave in this job I’m not happy about this it is not right it is not fair it is not respectful of the people it is not proper process to be followed on a major decision about our democracy and especially in the middle of an election campaign and so I’m going to go about doing things the way I do them you know and I will just do that in the coming days including today at city council and people will all conduct themselves with their own personality and their own way of getting things done I happen to think the way I normally try to behave on these things where I can certain indicate by the satisfaction but at the same time I maintain a civil constructive rational a tone is going to get more progress on this then perhaps behaving another way so I got to goToronto Mayor John Tory to deliver a ‘major statement’ in response to a report that Ontario’s newly elected Progressive Conservative government plans to slash the number of councillors in the city from 47 to 25.
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