Mayor Ford silent ahead of key council debates to neuter his mayoralty

TORONTO – Scandal-plagued Mayor Rob Ford brushed his way past reporters today ahead of unprecedented council meetings that could neuter his mayoralty.

He made no comment on the pending challenge to his leadership.

Councillors were less reticent to voice their opinions, most in denunciation of the crack-smoking, binge-drinking, foul-mouthed mayor.

Coun. Denzil Minnan-Wong says he believes there’s a “fair amount of unanimity” on council that Ford needs to be stripped of his powers.

He says Ford’s conduct has spoken volumes.

He also says he believes public support has largely turned away from the mayor, especially over the last few days.

“We need to protect the staff and we need to take away his power for the good of the city,” Minnan-Wong said Friday.

Friday’s motion before city council would take away Ford’s emergency powers and his ability to appoint the chairs of city committees, while another one set for Monday would relieve Ford of his duties as mayor.

Ford’s gaffes continued Thursday, as he spouted an obscenity on live TV, refused to apologize, then did apologize as his wife, seldom seen in public, watched from nearby.

The mayor’s frat-house vulgarity drew wide condemnation from councillors, who literally turned their backs when he spoke during the day’s various debates.

Coun. John Filion said Friday he thought the “vast majority” of council had had enough, but called the situation “sad.”

“Ironically, the mayor who had sort of divided everybody geographically and ideologically has now brought everybody together,” Filion said.

Asked how he thought Ford would react to the motions, he said he expected a “pumped up” mayor would likely “start doing body slams.”

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne is opening the door to provincial intervention but said council would have to make it clear it could not function as a result of the Ford scandal.

Several councillors said they were pondering appealing to the province.

Coun. Adam Vaughan said Ford should be allowed to function like any other councillor, but his staff should shift to the deputy mayor and city budget chief.

Ford has stubbornly refused to take a leave or resign but did say Thursday that he was receiving unspecified support from a team of health-care professionals.

Given the crush of media, staff have declared city hall unsafe for children.

For the time being, school tours will be going to the Toronto Archives instead.

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