Toronto Coun. Jaye Robinson got some unexpected news Monday afternoon: she was being removed from Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s executive committee, a 12-member group of councillors that is suppossed to set priorities and direction for council.
Robinson isn’t too happy about the decision, and she made sure to let reporters know it during a speech delivered at a press conference Tuesday morning.
Robinson said she recieved a call from one of Ford’s junior staff members Monday around 4 p.m., saying she was to meet with the mayor in 10 minutes. Since she was in her ward for meetings, there was no way she could make it to City Hall in time, Robinson said. The junior staffer told Robinson she was being removed from executive council.
“It is unfortunate that the mayor does not have the courtesy or respect to remove me from executive in person after two and a half, nearly three years, of service,” Robinson said.
She told reporters that she has not spoken to Ford and has been given no reason for her removal.
Robinson has been critical of Ford in the past weeks, amid controversy surrounding an alleged video of the mayor smoking crack-cocaine. She has urged Ford to address the allegations and to take time off if he needs to, and she said she stands by those comments.
“I think the mayor has personal issues that he needs to address,” Robinson said.
Notably, Robinson’s removal means there are no women left on the executive committee. It is now made up of 12 male councillors and the mayor (there are 44 councillors in Toronto).
While Rob Ford didn’t immediately speak to Robinson’s removal, his brother, Coun. Doug Ford, said that her removal wasn’t personal, but was meant to put Rob Ford in a stronger position going into the 2014 municipal election.
“I don’t think this was a big deal, of shifting one councillor to another,” Doug Ford said. He also accused Toronto media of being biased.
Shortly before noon Tuesday, Rob Ford told reporters that he had tried to reach Coun. Robinson six times, but her voice mail inbox was full and she did not respond to calls. He called her version of events “completely not true” and played down her removal from the executive committee.
“Changes happen all the time with politics,” Mayor Ford said.
In the staff shuffle Coun. Paul Ainslie, who has also been critical of Ford, was pushed to a lesser role.
While the mayor has yet to speak on Robinson’s dismissal or on Ainslie’s demotion, he may be heard from in the next couple days. City council begins two days of a full council meeting Tuesday morning, the first one since news of the alleged Ford crack-cocaine video was first reported.
Some good news for Ford
In Ford news not related to crack cocaine, a court has found that a man who sued Ford for libel in 2012, and lost, will have to pay a portion of Ford’s legal fees. George Foulidis, the owner of a waterfront restaurant in east Toronto, has to reimburse Ford’s lawyer $137,000, a court found Monday.