Election Politics Toronto

Mapping Mayor Tory’s support on Council

Matt Elliott, columnist for Metro Toronto, is one of Toronto’s greatest observers of local politics. One great service that he does is keep track of all important votes at Toronto City Hall. Originally, this work tracked each councillors’ support for Mayor Rob Ford from 2010 through 2014; now his scorecard tracks how each councillor voted according to Mayor John Tory’s agenda. The Council Scorecard spreadsheet is available here.

In 2014, I created several maps using Elliott’s data that helped to show how Rob Ford lost control of City Council. In Ford’s first year, he was able to count on the support of 22 councillors, enough to get most of his agenda passed. But by 2014, only two councillors – Giorgio Mammoliti (Ward 7) and Rob’s brother, Doug (Ward 2) voted with the mayor at least 70 percent of the time.

I felt it was about time to map how well Mayor Tory is doing.

Team Tory Score, as of December 2015

In his first year as mayor, from December 2014 to December 2015, Tory enjoyed the support of over half of Toronto City Council; 24 of 44 councillors voted with the mayor at least 70 percent of the time. Important votes on budget austerity, council appointments (such as Police Board Chair and Tory friend, Andy Pringle), approving the “Hybrid” option for the Gardiner Expressway, and approving Uber’s operations in Toronto were all passed.

But there were some surprises. Many key Tory supporters voted against the mayor on a motion introduced by Councillor Justin Di Ciano (Ward 5) to ask the province not to support ranked ballots. The mayor, who supported the electoral reform, lost that vote.

In that first year, most other councillors provided some support, voting with the mayor at least 30 percent of the time, including former mayor Rob Ford (Ward 2). The wards that these councillors represent are marked in orange. Generally, these wards are represented by centrist or left-leaning councillors such as Josh Matlow (Ward 22), Maria Augimeri (Ward 9) and Shelley Carroll (Ward 33).

Only two councillors — Mike Layton (Ward 19) and Joe Cressy (Ward 20) voted opposite to Mayor Tory over 70 percent of the time in 2015.

Team Tory Score, as of July 2016. Votes from the October 2016 Council Meeting not yet included. 

So far in 2016, the divide between the allies of the mayor and his opposition widened. Only ten councillors were left in the middle (all centre-left), while five councillors — Gord Perks (Ward 14), Kristyn Wong-Tam (Ward 27), Paula Fletcher (Ward 30), Janet Davis (Ward 31), and Anthony Perruzza (Ward 8) joining the opposition. With the exception of Ward 2, vacated after Rob Ford’s death, all councillors from Etobicoke and Scarborough became clear Tory allies.

It’s worth noting few normally centrist councillors, who were very effective in opposing Rob Ford’s agenda last term, are now staunch allies, including Paul Ainslie (Ward 43), and Bailão (Ward 18). Both are members of Tory’s Executive Committee; Ainslie, a centre-right councillor who has earned my great respect, was also appointed chair of the Government Management Committee.

Opposition to Tory’s agenda from councillors in the Toronto-East York region might help to explain why the Executive Committee, hand-picked by Tory and his transition team, did not have much enthusiasm for the 47-ward solution recommended by consultants on the Toronto Ward Boundary Review team. To reflect population growth, Downtown Toronto would get three new councillors in 2018, as would central North York. One ward would disappear in Toronto’s west end; incumbent councillors Ana Bailão (Ward 18) and Cesar Palacio (Ward 17), both Tory allies, are the most affected by that change. In May, the committee requested that the consultants go back to the drawing board and look at a new 44-ward option, as well as ward boundary options consistent with provincial and federal ridings. The consultants did that, and are once again recommending the 47-ward option.

Almost half-way through his term, Mayor Tory has a confident and strong hold on Council, which has so far supported an agenda of austerity, along with major (and in my view, unwise) transportation infrastructure projects like the Scarborough Subway and the Gardiner East reconstruction.

It is worth noting as well that apart from Bailão, all councillors from “downtown” wards were frozen out of Tory’s inner circle, even though many downtown and midtown wards enthusiastically voted for Tory in the 2014 election. Furthermore, most of the same councillors that support Tory at least 70 percent of the time also supported Ford’s agenda in 2011 and 2012. Key supporters of Ford’s early agenda went on to sit on John Tory’s Executive Committee.

While there’s a slightly conservative bent to Toronto City Council, left-leaning mayor David Miller was able to work with centrists and conservatives, including suburban councillors, to implement his agenda, appointing several to key boards and committees. Tory, on the other hand, has frozen out council’s progressives, perpetuating an urban-suburban divide.

Mayor Rob Ford’s allies and foes in 2011

It’s possible that Tory’s hold on power will slip as councillors get restless, or if there’s a backlash to cuts to city services such as the TTC or the Toronto Public Library. After all, Rob Ford’s hold on power slipped long before the crack scandal as residents fought back against budget cuts, and council quashed the Ford Brothers’ attempt to build a Ferris wheel and mall in the Portlands.

The mid point between municipal elections is coming up, and there’s an opportunity to make changes to committee and board appointments. There’s still an opportunity for new alliances to be made and for goals to change to support a growing city and address growing economic disparity.

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