NDP to Mayor Tory: “Nobody has that much power, Bill 39 is dangerous”

TORONTO  – “No one in Canada, not even the Premier and Prime Minister, has the power to govern with a minority vote. You can’t trust anyone with that much power”. This, in a nutshell, is the message that the NDP of Ontario sends to John Tory (in the pic above, from his Twitter profile), inviting him to request the withdrawal of the provincial legislation that gives him almost absolute powers to encourage the construction of new housing.

In a letter sent to the Toronto Mayor on Wednesday evening, Toronto-area NDP lawmakers say they are “deeply disappointed” to learn that John Tory has struck a deal with Premier Doug Ford to pass legislation that would allow him to make key decisions with only a third of the support of board members. In fact, with a minority.

The bill – 39 – is described as a “slippery slope” where democratic checks are continually overridden, opening the door to “backroom deals and scandals”. “Bill 39 is an egregious assault on the democratic rights of the people of Toronto and undermines the integrity of the recent municipal election” the letter read. “The people of Toronto just participated in a municipal election to elect 25 City Councillors assuming that their votes would be respected. To now learn that you asked the Premier to give you the power to govern the city with the support of only 8 councilors is a deep betrayal of people’s trust.” And then again: “Bill 39’s attack on our democratic rights will be your legacy”.

Also in the letter, we read that “the excuse for Bill 39 is to build houses faster”, but “every housing authority who has publicly commented has expressed concern that there is nothing in the Bill that actually guarantees the construction of new affordable homes”. An analysis, the latter, which coincides with the one made by the municipal offices which expressed, just the day before yesterday, a negative opinion on Bill 39 which would cause serious economic damage to the Municipality of Toronto, since it provides for the renunciation by the Municipality to a large part of the urbanization costs.

The NDP letter (you can read it entirely here above: click on the image to enlarge it more) is signed by Chris Glover (Spadina-Fort York), Jessica Bell (University-Rosedale), Marit Stiles (Davenport), Kristyn Wong-Tam (Toronto-Centre), Tom Rakocevic (Humber River-Black Creek) , Doly Begum (Scarborough Southwest), Peter Tabuns (Toronto-Danforth), Bhutila Karpoche (Parkdale-High Park) and Jill Andrew (Toronto-St. Paul’s).

Strong doubts about the mayor’s “new powers” had already been raised on Wednesday, during the first City Council meeting of John Tory’s new term after the last municipal elections. In particular, Councilor Josh Matlow said, addressing the Mayor, that “without revealing it to the public during the election or without any consultation with his colleagues who were elected by the people of Toronto, you questioned the privilege of this assembly … demanding that Premier Ford provide with anti-democratic and minority powers that are unprecedented in any democratically elected body anywhere in the world”. Matlow went on to call for a full debate at the earliest possible city council meeting to discuss the issue and to reverse the request for additional powers that would be granted under Bill 39.

“There will be a report at the December meeting of the City Council” Tory replied, explaining to Matlow that “some of the issues you referred had not even become law yet but are under consideration by the legislator. The matter will be discussed at that time” concluded Tory.