Rob Ford has lost yet another council vote on transit, this time by an overwhelming two-thirds majority.
Tuesday morning, TTC chair Karen Stintz successfully orchestrated a move to seize control of a staff report on transit revenue tools from Ford's executive committee and put it council's agenda. The vote was 27-13, with five members of Ford's executive committee siding with Stintz.
The report will now be debated at this week's meeting, which is expected to last at least until tomorrow night.
Ford, who opposes any new taxes to pay for transit, had tried to block the report from being debated at council. Last month, his executive voted 6-4 to delay its consideration until May 28.
After Tuesday's vote however, Stintz said that most councillors understood that it was vital for the city to give its input on the revenue tools proposed by provincial transit agency Metrolinx before the end of the month. The agency is expected to deliver its funding plan for a massive expansion of the GTA's transportation network on May 27.
"It was six members of the executive committee that voted to defer, and it was as council as a whole that said, no, this debate is important," said Stintz, adding that the city needs to ensure that whichever taxes Metrolinx chooses aren't detrimental to Torontonians.
The staff report recommends council endorse a sales tax, gas tax, parking levy, and development charges as part of the Metrolinx plan.
Going into the meeting it was believed that most councillors supported seizing the item from Ford's executive, but council rules dictated that Stintz and her cohort needed a two-thirds majority to succeed. They achieved it without a vote to spare, thanks in part to some gamesmanship on the council floor.
Councillor John Parker, an ally of Stintz's on the transit file, first delayed and then moved the snap motion at the start of the meeting when at least one reliable Ford ally, Mike Del Grande, was out of his seat.
Councillor Adam Vaughan, who worked with Stintz to bring the report to council, said the timing was no accident.
"We knew where the votes were, we knew where they weren't, and we knew when they were available to us," Vaughan said.
The Trinity-Spadina councillor and the mayor's most vocal critic said the vote was indication that Ford no longer has any influence on important issues like transit. The mayor's own Sheppard subway proposal was defeated last year.
"Council's in charge. While the mayor may have slogans, what he doesn't have is allies on council anymore," he said.
Mayor Ford declined to comment on the vote Tuesday morning, but his brother, Councillor Doug Ford, played down the loss.
"We lost by one vote. A couple of our members decided to take a little walk for one reason or another," he said.
Councillor Ford said he respected council's decision, but vowed to oppose the provincial Liberal government's efforts to implement any new taxes.
"What they want the public to do is hand over a blank cheque to the most irresponsible government this province has ever seen, and blindly raise taxes for the people of Ontario," said Ford, who has already announced his intention to run for the opposition Conservatives during the next provincial election. "It's unacceptable."