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Four Things You Should Know About This Week’s Toronto City Council Meetings

by Brad Evoy

City Council coming back into session on July 9th 2014
City Council coming back into session on July 9th 2014

With Toronto City Council meeting daily Monday to Friday in two different meetings, a lot can happen that impacts life in the City of Toronto. Here is our rundown of four items you should know about.

 

1. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer/Questioning, and Two-Spirited (LGBTQ2S) Youth Focused Transition Hub Vote - 37 in Favour, Mayor Ford against.

While there has been a lot of hoopla raised around the fact that both Mayor Rob Ford and Councillor Doug Ford maintained a seated position during the standing ovations given to City staff and various organizations for their work during WorldPride, the true actions of the Fords on LGBTQ issues are much more concerning.

On the importance of the proposed transitional hub, city staff note that existing space is insufficient and creates barriers that…

may include lack of sensitivity to the unique needs of LGBTQ2S youth including homophobic and transphobic attitudes of staff and other services users, as well as inappropriate personal space, and/or washroom and shower facilities which do not respect the dignity and gender identify of LGBTQ2S youth. Mainstream services may also not have the capacity to support youth facing complex issues related to gender transitions, internalized homophobia and transphobia and risk factors related to HIV transmission.

Having held the vote on the transitional hub back from the floor until Day 3, Rob Ford continued his active repression of the queer and trans community. Without as much as a comment as to his reasoning for holding the vote back until then, Mayor allowed for a vote to proceed. Following this, the vote regarding the  transitional  hub passed with 37 votes in favour and only the Mayor voting against.

 

2. Councillor Mammoliti’s Code of Conduct Violation.

While all eyes rest on the Fords, there are still other major issues created in Council by other members. Giorgio Mammoliti, Councillor for Ward 7 (York West), is tied up in a fundraising event scandal that brought together lobbyists, companies involved in City affairs, and City staff to fund the Councillor personally. The Integrity Commissioner’s report on the matter recommended harsh sanctions against Mammoliti and it appeared conclusive in its findings regarding a breach of Council’s Code of Conduct. However, on the day of the Council meeting an anonymous email was circulated among Councillors claiming wrongdoing on the part of the Commissioner. With Mammoliti missing for most of the meeting, this led to Commissioner Janet Leiper taking the limelight.

Following an attempt to defer the issue (which will be discussed more in a moment), Council voted definitively (in favour 37 to 2 against) to revoke the Councillor Mammoliti’s salary for the next 90 days and to instruct city staff to investigate if there were grounds to approach this as a criminal matter. The sanction given is the highest available to the City within their Code of Conduct, but it’s only a fraction of the full amount raised by Mammoliti (around $80,000).
 

3. The Appointment of Two New Councillors.

As mentioned, there was an attempt to defer matters around Mammoliti’s code of conduct violation. This was raised by new Ward 5 Councillor James Maloney. Maloney replaces Peter Milczyn, while Ceta Ramkhalawansingh has replaced Adam Vaughan in Ward 20. Milczyn and Vaughan were both elected in their respective federal by-elections with the Liberal Party. Maloney’s motion was met with skepticism and disregard by some councillors (one referring to it as “just bad”), while others online accused Maloney of taking up the banner of the Fords in his decision-making. For himself, Maloney claimed to be attempting to be cautious, as was in line with his legal background, even as the motion failed.

Later in the Council session, Ramkhalawansingh moved her first motion – which was to have city officials and staff attend an Ontario Municipal Board meeting about proposed changes to heritage buildings at 562, 564 and 566 Spadina Crescent.

 

4. Sir John A. Macdonald Plaza Vote.

In an attempt to recognize the two hundredth anniversary of John A. Macdonald’s birth, Council moved to consider renaming Union Station after the long-dead first Prime Minister of Canada. However, this motion, as originally put forward by Denzil Minnan-Wong, was amended before presentation to Council to be restricted to the naming of an outdoor plaza at Union station.

Councillor Pam McConnell  and a number of other Councillors raised concerns over naming a section of Toronto’s primary railway station after Macdonald, given his well-documented racism toward Chinese migrant workers involved in building the Canadian railway and their families. To McConnell, this seemed contradictory in light of the 2006 Federal government apology regarding the Chinese head tax instituted by Macdonald.

However, other Councillors rejected these concerns outright. Councillor John Parker suggested that members of Council needed to “get over it” and raised the spectre of needing to more closely review the history of all honourees of this sort. Similarly, Councillors Josh Matlow and Minnan-Wong suggested that honouring a figure like Macdonald, regardless of the issues raised, was the right thing to do. All being said, some members raised further well-founded points on the issue.
The motion to name the outdoor plaza at Union Station after John A. Macdonald passed 21 to 15.

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Brad Evoy (Brad Evoy)
Toronto
Member since October 2013

About:

Brad Evoy is a graduate student at the University of Toronto, blogger, writer, commentator, and sometimes firebrand. He has served as one of the Summer Membership and Admin. Coordinators for the Toronto Media Co-op and in the past has written for various other publications. Meanwhile, as an organizer, he's associated with the Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG-Toronto) and Scientists for the Right to Know, along with past associations with various student organizations in two provinces.

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