Frances Nunziata ended up with egg on her face after a Twitter blast yesterday from Chiara Padovani, her former rival for the Ward 5 seat.
Padovani pointed out that though Nunziata had promised to support affordable housing during the campaign, she voted against several homelessness and affordable-housing motions this week at City Council.
1/5 Today at City Hall our #YSW councillor broke several housing promises she made during her campaign as she consistently voted against the #right2housing in Toronto.
Nunziata voted against declaring a homelessness a state of emergency. She was following city staff advice–and voting with a substantial majority–when she did so. Staff said that Wong-Tam’s motion was a panicky reaction to “social and economic problems of an ongoing systemic nature that cannot be resolved in days, weeks or months.”
Nunziata also voted against making many new developments rent controlled, and against an amendment that would have made more of those units affordable and doubled the number of very deeply discounted units–and done so at enormous expense.
What to make of this? On the one hand, Padovani’s criticisms are sharp, and Nunziata did march with ACORN, the way-left anti-poverty group that was championing the amendments to the Housing Now plan.
Ebony from #Weston doing some fine tuning on her speech calling for improvements to Housing Now. Mayor Tory and Council must do more for low and moderate income families! Rent control on all developments on public land! pic.twitter.com/GIV3ymYVQc
Hussen’s department admitted late on a Friday that there is a problem in Toronto’s shelters, and that they are overcrowded due to refugee claimants. Hussen had said–falsely–that “the status of people seeking access to the shelter system in Toronto is unknown”. He had also said (incorrectly) that the number of asylum seekers has declined 75% year-on-year.
Still, the department of he leads gave the city $15 million on Friday to cope with the crowding. Hussen, perhaps meaningfully, was not quoted on the press release.
Hussen has had an ongoing argument with Lisa MacLeod, his Ontario counterpart, that started last year when he said her tactics were “not Canadian”. He says she is “fear mongering”, and stoking “fear and division”. She took offense to that.
MacLeod has asked the feds to reimburse the province for the full cost of attending to refugee claimants, laying the blame at their feet. She said she’d like the rest of the $200 million that she says the feds owe:
Unacceptable to bypass Ontario, forget the City of Ottawa and all in still owe Ontarians $185 M remaining from the $200 M bill. I will continue to press for the @JustinTrudeau Liberals to make Ontario whole for their failed border policies. https://t.co/0qeEXR5E6O
After a storm of controversy, Ron Taverner has rescinded his resignation from the Toronto Police Service and is back on the job as north west district commander (Divisions 12, 23 and 31) that he left on Friday. On Saturday, Mr Taverner asked that his appointment as OPP Commissioner be put on hold pending the results of an inquiry (requested by the NDP) by the Integrity Commissioner.
Two days after the OPP Commissioner’s job was posted, the requirements (deputy police chief or higher) were lowered thus allowing Superintendent Taverner to apply and his selection, according to the Ontario Newsroom site, was the, “unanimous recommendation of a selection committee comprised exclusively of members of the Ontario Public Service and supported by Odgers Berndtson, an executive search firm.”. Apparently 23 out of the 27 candidates for the job met the original requirements so lowering them was probably not merited on the basis of a shortage of candidates.
Acting OPP Commissioner (and fellow candidate for the job) Brad Blair cried foul on Taverner’s appointment and has since been demoted.
Many pundits have claimed that the fix was in and that Taverner’s friendship with Premier Ford was the reason for his appointment. Superintendent Taverner may well have been the best candidate to lead the OPP. Unfortunately, perceptions of the Premier’s large thumb on the scale have tainted his appointment and there is likely no going back regardless of the Integrity Commissioner’s report.
City Hall had to make some tough decisions this week, among them what to do about marijuana legalization. Council voted to allow regulated marijuana retailers, and to ask the province for the power to zone the stores.
Had Toronto voted to stay pot-free, we would have lost out on provincial money for police and bylaw enforcement.
Frances Nunziata got into some hot water for clumsily referring to the store in Weston that advertises it donates a portion of its proceeds to Black Lives Matter. Some thought that this was uncalled-for.
Yesterday while speaking about illegal dispensaries, I referenced one with a sign in the window claiming that a portion of proceeds was being donated to Black Lives Matter. Some are calling this racist. I will be on @NEWSTALK1010 at 1:05 pm to discuss.
Angus Reid asked those voters who could identify the ministers whether they were doing a good job or a bad job–thereby screening out the less informed.¹ They subtracted the bads from the goods, getting ratings between -36 (Amarjeet Sohi) and +20 (Chrystia Freeland).
Among the ten most-recognizable ministers, Hussen came in last. Liberal voters gave him a +18 rating, but 61% of non-Liberals think he is doing a bad job.
Hussen is the Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship, and likely suffered because he has a tough portfolio. As Angus Reid notes,
As controversy builds around the appointment of local police Superintendent Ron Taverner (and friend of the Premier) as head of the OPP, the Toronto Star (via the paywall free ourwindsor.ca) has found that Mr Taverner purchased a home in Weston in July 2017. The deal was private with $550,000 changing hands for the home near Church and George.
The problem? The seller, Simone Daniels worked for the Ford family business, Deco Labels, and is currently employed as Deputy Chief of Staff for the Premier.
In related news, the Globe and Mail reports that when Doug Ford was a Toronto councillor, he suggested to former Police Services Board Chair, Alok Mukherjee that his longtime friend would make a good Toronto Deputy Police Chief (Taverner did not apply for the job and was not appointed).
Rightly or wrongly, this steady drip of negative stories adds to the perception of strong connections between Doug Ford and Ron Taverner and a possible conflict of interest.
It will take great deal of determination to stare down this kind of pressure. My guess is that Mr Taverner (who has not commented publicly on the current brouhaha) may decide that the job isn’t worth the bother, plus, he’ll probably not want to begin his new job under a cloud that will likely persist during his term of office.
Update: We’ve removed the picture, because that seems like the right thing to do.
At today’s brief session of Toronto City Council, Frances Nunziata was the only nominee as Speaker and she was elected unanimously by her colleagues in a recorded vote. Similarly, Councillor Shelley Carroll was also the sole nominee and unanimous choice for Deputy Speaker.
Some random observations from today’s opening session:
Council opened with an acknowledgement that Treaty 13 granted settlement rights over the land that covers Toronto and lands to the north. The money paid for the quarter of a million acres or so? Ten shillings (nowadays 50p or 84 cents). Even taking inflation into account it’s less than $40.
Only four new councillors were elected in Toronto’s 25 wards.
Councillor Jim Karygiannis is a very tall man.
Mayor John Tory seemed to be nursing a bad back as he walked into the ceremony with some difficulty. In his opening day speech he mentioned:
We don’t need to be divisive to do our job – possibly a dig at the Premier.
Toronto is Ontario’s financial engine – a message for both the Premier and Prime Minister
We need to keep taxes low and spend money carefully – more austerity coming
Land transfer tax revenues are falling – more austerity coming
Toronto needs to be a more liveable city (whatever that means).
Everyone was on their best behaviour today with lots of hugs, handshakes and nice words. We’ll see how long that lasts with the new, smaller and more intimate Council.