Toronto mayor wins important garbage vote
'So we're going to have the left or you're going to have the right'
Toronto politicians have voted to push ahead with a plan to privatize garbage collection.
City council voted 32 to 13 on Tuesday evening to support a plan to implement privatized collection in the area of the city west of Yonge Street, to the border with Etobicoke.
For Rob Ford it was a crucial win on an issue he used to help propel himself into the mayor's office.
In 2009 a strike by Toronto's municipal workers closed daycares, community centres and swimming pools. But for many in the city the real inconvenience was the disruption to regular garbage collection.
During his 2010 mayoral campaign Ford promised to end garbage strikes by privatizing collection — much in the same manner as in the former city of Etobicoke, which privatized its garbage collection before amalgamation.
Earlier on Tuesday Ford lashed out at opponents, while at the same time he announced a conciliatory move that gives council the final say on garbage contract bids.
A sticking point for many on council was the part of the original plan that recommended a committee comprised of unelected city staff - and not council - would vote to award the contract.
But that obstacle was removed after council approved a motion introduced by Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday stipulating a council vote on approval of any private bids.
"So all the fear mongering goes out the window," Ford said.
Ford struck an impassioned and partisan tone as he extolled the need for outsourcing garbage collection.
He said the vote will expose a clear cleft in council that "will be very simple for taxpayers to see."
"You're going to have one side of council that is going to support high taxes, big spending, out-of-control union contracts," he said.
"We're going to have the other side of people that are going to have respect for taxpayers' money, that want to bring accountability to City Hall, that are sick and tired of the tax-and-spend socialists down in this city. That's where it's going to come down to. So we're going to have the left or you're going to have the right."
City staff say the deal could save taxpayers about $8 million a year. The union that represents the affected workers disputes that figure.
The vote was expected to be close. Holyday told CBC News before Tuesday's meeting many members of council campaigned on a promise to save taxpayers' money, and must now deliver.
"We will see if they are going to live up to their word. Those who are not willing to do that may pay a price come 2014."
In the end the Ford forces won by a sizeable majority.