'That is tinpot dictator stuff': Calgary Mayor Nenshi blasts Ontario Premier Ford

Nenshi says the newly elected premier's move smacks of political opportunism.

Calgary mayor sounds off on plan to reduce size of Toronto's city council

Mayor Nenshi on Premier Ford

5 years ago
Duration 0:18
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi sounds off on Ontario Premier Doug Ford's plan to reduce the size of Toronto's city council.

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi had harsh words Friday for Ontario Premier Doug Ford's plan to reduce the number of city councillors in Toronto from 47 to 25, calling it "tinpot dictator stuff."

The newly elected Ford said his Progressive Conservative government will move ahead with the plan before the Oct. 22 municipal election.

Nenshi said the move smacks of political opportunism. 

"Today is the deadline for filing nominations," he told reporters. "The election officially started on May 1, people have raised money, they've spent money, they're put their lives on hold, they've quit their jobs, they've made deals with their families that they're willing to do public service.

"And on the day the nominations close, for what appear to be perfectly political reasons, without any consultation ... for you to say to those folks who put their lives on hold ... 'by the way, the job you're running for doesn't exist anymore.' That's unconscionable, and I stand with [Toronto] Mayor [John] Tory on this and say that is a direct affront on democracy. That is tinpot dictator stuff."

Ford justified the move by saying Toronto's council has "failed to act on the critical issues facing the city," and called it the "most dysfunctional political arena" in the country.

Nenshi said he has also been critical of the size of Toronto's council but questioned the timing of the announcement and said the public should have a say.

"You don't do that on nomination day. You don't do that after you've just run an election in which you never mention this," he said. 

"You don't cancel elections where your political rival was running for an office, just because your political rival is running for that office. And I would strongly suggest, and support Mayor Tory in saying, we've got to find a legal answer to what the limits of provincial authority are here. It's not just for Toronto, it's for all of us.

"And certainly I stand with Mayor Tory and his council colleagues of every political stripe, saying ultimately, let the people decide."