Rob Ford fights back as Kathleen Wynne refuses to meet
Toronto mayor wants face-to-face meeting with Ontario premier to discuss ice storm relief funds
The divide between Rob Ford and Kathleen Wynne is growing, as the Ontario premier continues to refuse to meet face-to-face with Toronto's mayor to discuss relief money to pay for damage from last month's ice storm.
Wynne made it clear Wednesday she would only meet with Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly, who assumed many of Ford's duties when council voted last fall to strip the mayor of his powers in the wake of a drug-use scandal.
"This isn't about a political grudge," said Wynne.
"I have been consistent in my approach, which is to meet with the deputy mayor who has the responsibility to be the leader at Toronto city council and that's what I will continue to do," she said.
But Ford is fighting back, circulating a briefing note Wednesday that argues he remains the head of council and the city's chief executive officer under the City of Toronto Act.
"The City of Toronto Act assigns this role to the person elected to the office of mayor," reads the briefing note. "Council cannot take it away."
The note also says the mayor continues to be the city's representative, both nationally and locally.
Ford wants the meeting with Wynne so he can ask for money from a provincial disaster relief fund to help cover the costs of last month's devastating ice storm.
At its height, the storm left 300,000 Toronto Hydro customers without power in freezing temperatures. It also left the city with an estimated $106 million in cleanup costs.
The city is asking the province for two-thirds of that total, plus relief money related to last summer's rain storm.
In the early days of the ice storm Wynne met regularly with Kelly, but not Ford.
Among the powers stripped from Ford last fall was special powers in a state of emergency. But the power to declare a state of emergency remained with Ford, because it falls under provincial legislation that city council couldn't change.
Ford has said calling a state of emergency was unnecessary, would not have sped the flow of provincial relief money and may have created undue panic.