After a tumultuous four years under Mayor Rob Ford, Toronto city council's final full meeting is now underway.
The marathon meeting — which includes more than 400 agenda items and could stretch over four days — will be the final gathering of this council before the Oct. 27 municipal election. Among the agenda items is a call by one councillor to change the words of O Canada to make the national anthem more gender-neutral.
Councillors will also consider a plan to build a new Toronto Raptors practice facility on the Exhibition grounds.
The meeting got underway just before 10 a.m. with speaker Frances Nunziata calling on councillors to "be nice." Her plea was a reference to some of the acrimony that has marked many council meetings this term.
Council began the meeting by voting 36-2 in favour of banning the use of e-cigarettes in city workplaces. Mayor Rob Ford and Coun. Josh Matlow voted against the motion. Earlier this month, Toronto's medical health officer recommended the city ban the use of e-cigarettes anywhere smoking is banned.
The meeting that began Monday could be the final one for Ford, who is seeking re-election after a four-year term in which he:
- Admitted to smoking crack cocaine.
- Was stripped of many of his powers in a council vote last November.
- Was the subject of a police investigation.
- Was featured in a handful of videos inebriated, swearing and acting erratically.
- Bowled over a councillor while charging toward the gallery in council chambers.
- Completed two months of rehab.
City Hall press scrums have already taken on a mid-election tone in recent weeks. Ford has defended his record, telling CBC city hall reporter Jamie Strashin he's "run the city better than any mayor ever has."
His opponents, meanwhile, say it's time the Rob Ford era to end.
Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam, an ardent Ford opponent, issued a tweet Monday calling Ford "Toronto's worst mayor ever":
Ford's main opponents in the mayor's race include former NDP MP Olivia Chow, former provincial Progressive Conservative leader John Tory and former councillor David Soknacki.
It will easily be 2 hours before council sets order paper and begins actual debate. Large agenda.— Jamie Strashin (@StrashinCBC) August 25, 2014