If Ford's subway dream is going to die, he at least made sure Thursday that it won't go quietly.
After being absent for much of yesterday's debate over the future of transit on Sheppard Ave., Ford made a speech to council on the second day of the meeting this morning, and it was explosive.
"The people of the city have spoken loud and clear. They want subways, folks. They want subways, subways, subways," said Ford, as he became increasingly incensed.
He railed against the St. Clair streetcar right of way, which he says will be replicated if council decides to build light rail on Sheppard.
"People hate the St. Clair. They hate these streetcars. You can call them what you want, people want subways, folks," he shouted. "They don't want these damn streetcars blocking up our city!"
He warned the light rail plan will be a "boondoggle of billions of dollars to make the eHealth scandal look miniscule."
After his two-minute remarks, tempers flared in the chamber and speaker Frances Nunziata was forced to call a five-minute recess to calm the meeting down.
Council is poised to endorse an expert panel's recommendation to build a surface LRT on Sheppard, a major blow to the mayor who rode into office on a promise to deliver subways. Councillors have already defied him by approving three other LRT lines.
Backed into a corner, the mayor is now pushing for a decision on Sheppard to be delayed until after the federal and provincial budgets come down later this month. Last night he provoked and uproar in the council chamber when he attempted to delay a vote until April 4. Thursday morning subway boosting councillors tried again and sought a referral of the matter to the May 8th session. Council voted 24 - 18 against.
Ford believes Ottawa or Queen's Park could chip in the money needed to build the subway he wants on Sheppard, but TTC chair Karen Stintz countered that both governments are in austerity mode and are unlikely to inject millions of dollars into the TTC.
Hinging his hopes on other levels of government is a change from his previously stated position, which was to find the needed funds from the private sector.
Earlier in the day, a Ford ally tried to walk back a funding idea he tabled only yesterday. Wednesday morning Councillor Mike Del Grande proposed a parking levy to pay for subway line, but asked to withdraw his motion Thursday. Council however wouldn't oblige, and blocked the withdrawal by a vote of 21-15.
Del Grande said Wednesday night that he doesn't believe the levy will pass and it now appears that it never had the mayor's support.
The council meeting continues, and a final vote on Sheppard is expected Thursday afternoon.