June 11, 2013
Robinson should be ecstatic; Ainslie should leave before the Ford administration collapses.
Jaye Robinson is too nice, too good, too principled and too caring to be associated with Rob Ford.
The city councillor should have concluded as much over the Christmas holidays and quit the mayor’s executive committee then. The fact she stayed while others jumped ship only burnished her reputation.
The mayor repaid her Monday. As is his privilege, Ford dumped Robinson from his executive committee. It’s his loss, another in a bulging list.
A rookie councillor, Robinson should be rejoicing — freed as she is now to vote her conscience without feeling guilty about not supporting the mayor and his nonsensical policy directions.
Who can forget her agony over the seminal transit vote a year ago? An inept leader, armed with nothing but bluster and untruths about “subways, subways, subways,” Ford gave Robinson nothing to cling to as she valiantly sought a way to support his unsustainable boasts.
In the end, Robinson rightly concluded that you can’t build subways with hot air; that contrary to Ford’s claims — a position he mendaciously maintains to this day — Ford has no private sector funds to build subways; that Ford, conclusively, doesn’t really want to build transit, not when he rejected the most benign olive branch of a study of parking fees to finance a city plan to build the subways.
Even before the transit epiphany, the freshly elected Robinson set up her own private meetings with Waterfront T oronto to learn about the plans for waterfront revitalization. She had to go incognito — afraid of the bullying of the mayor’s brother, who wanted to bring in megamalls and a Ferris wheel on prime land.
She rebuffed the Fords on that one, too.
The marriage was always a difficult one for Robinson. She represents one of T oronto’s most affluent wards, including the Bridle Path. The majority of her constituents may embrace fiscal conservatism, but they abhor fools and are hardly tolerant of the buffoonery that passes for mayoral behaviour at city hall under the current mayor.
While Councillor Frances Nunziata swallows everything Ford says and dutifully votes in lock step with the mayor — a namby-pamby, boot-licking sycophant that few would have anticipated from the once nervous but brave and bold mayor of Y ork — Robinson’s character traits wouldn’t allow such unquestioning allegiance.
When Ford was elected in 2010 he had a tough time fielding his executive committee. As a cabinet of sorts, a group of 13 men wouldn’t play well, Ford was told. Nunziata was already locked up for the job of Speaker, and Karen Stintz had the T T C chair, exempting both from the executive. T he rest of the women all presented a dilemma or two.
Pam McConnell, Janet Davis, Paula Fletcher, Kristyn Wong-T am, Sarah Doucette, Mary Fragedakis, Maria Augimeri and Shelley Carroll were, heavens no, lefties. Four other women — Mary-Margaret McMahon, Ana Bailao, Michelle Berardinetti and Robinson were rookies.
In fact, Ford had the perfect candidate — a conservative councillor from Etobicoke named Gloria Lindsay Luby. Oops, sorry, never mind. Ford once dismissed her as “a waste of skin.”
So Ford settled on Berardinetti from Scarborough and Robinson — hailing them as two young, bright lights.
Berardinetti faced the same struggles as Robinson. She quit the executive committee in frustration in December; Robinson stuck with it.
When news of Ford’s crack-smoking video surfaced in May, a bewildered Robinson repeatedly asked the mayor to address the issue squarely and fully. She was one of the signatories to a letter demanding same.
Ford responded Monday, tossing her overboard.
The lifeboat is getting full — populated by Ford’s ex-staffers, aides, and political allies.
Councillor Paul Ainslie is hanging to the side of the ship of state. He is not trusted by the administration. It was he who told the Star he asked Ford’s handlers to get the mayor home from the military ball because the mayor wasn’t functioning properly — he seemed either intoxicated or high
on some substance.
Ainslie could have wilted under the pressure to recant. He stood firm in what he saw and did.
If more of Ford’s allies and handlers were more like Ainslie, the mayor would have long since been forced to leave office to repair what’s broken in his private life.
Instead, it is the good people being sacrificed to keep the ship afloat.