Mayor accuses councillor of being “chippy and partisan,” says he did “the right thing” with Public Works Committee appointment

4:22 p.m. May 24, 2018. Chair of the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee, Councillor Jaye Robinson (standing), speaks to council while Mary-Margaret McMahon (left), looks on.
4:22 p.m. May 24, 2018. Chair of the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee, Councillor Jaye Robinson (standing), speaks to council while Mary-Margaret McMahon (left), looks on.

May 24, 2018

By Arianne Robinson

Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon was unanimously appointed to the Public Works & Infrastructure Committee (PWIC) by council on Thursday, following Councillor Chin Lee’s resignation.

The appointment, which usually happens when the office is filled, happened differently this time, because  of repeated problems with quorum, as the Chair of the Committee, Councillor Jaye Robinson, explained.

“The last meeting we were lucky to keep quorum for a couple of hours … it’s a $2.6 billion dollar portfolio and we can’t keep quorum.”

Deputy Mayor Stephen Holyday moved the amendment to add McMahon to the PWIC committee.

Not all councillors were happy about the motion. Councillor Janet Davis accused the mayor’s office of trying to keep certain councillors off key committees.

“It’s not just me. It is not about me. It is about respecting the diversity of both political views in this council chamber … I’m sorry, this isn’t about Councillor McMahon. It is about the process, and it is about a consistent pattern of exclusion that has been happening here in this chamber from day one.”

However, when Councillor Joe Mihevc suggested that Davis be added along with McMahon, Davis could be heard saying she did not want the appointment, and that it was about the process.

Councillor Gord Perks brought a motion that Mike Layton be on the committee instead of McMahon, and Layton did the same with Perks. It was not clear whether these motions were meant to be serious. Even Councillor Joe Cressy said in his comments to council, “The vote today – we all know what it is.”

Mayor John Tory defended the decision.

“Playing politics, which someone referred to a moment ago, would have had me stick to the original recommendation I was given, which was to appoint another suburban councillor,” Tory said to council, explaining that he was actually influenced by a downtown councillor who had urged him to consider whether it is “fair” that there is no downtown councillor on the committee.

“So we changed [the decision], and it shows you no good deed goes unpunished around here when people want to be chippy and partisan when I actually did the right thing,” Tory said.

As councillors recorded their vote, Speaker Frances Nunziata spoke to councillors over the mic.

“This is nothing personal.”