Toronto Casino Meeting Will Proceed Despite Mayor’s Cancellation

The city of Toronto went through a tough week, and could experience an equally tumultuous time next week.  Allegations that Toronto Mayor Rob Ford was caught on video smoking crack from a pipe drowned out the mayor’s earlier decision to cancel a special council meeting on the OLG casino, scheduled for May 21.  However, that meeting is likely to proceed regardless of Ford’s declaration that “the debate is dead.”

Councilor Mike Layton, a staunch anti-casino activist, proclaimed that councilors and Torontonians deserve the opportunity to put an end to the casino debate, one way or the other.  Ford already postponed the special debate from a council meeting earlier in May, but Layton and other anti-casino councilors refused to let their voices be silenced again.  The councilor, popular in the city as the son of former NDP Leader Jack Layton, told city hall reporters that the debate has already gone on for over a year.

“The people of Toronto have informed me that they want to see a debate on this item.  We promised it to them next Tuesday and we’re going to deliver.”

Ford cancelled the meeting after the Ontario government refused to provide a clear answer to the revenue sharing agreement between Toronto and the OLG.  The mayor said without that figure, there was no point to the debate, and conceded that he won’t support the casino unless it is in Toronto’s best financial interests.

Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday, fielding most questions at city hall on Friday due to the serious allegations against the mayor, agrees with Ford that the meeting makes no sense without all the information.

“The only thing I can see that we could do, but I think we could do this in our own time frame, is let Woodbine have an expansion.”

Under the rules at city hall, a majority of Toronto’s 45 councilors can sign an agreement to proceed with democratic meetings regardless of the mayor’s position.  Layton stated that enough councilors are in agreement to host the meeting on May 21 as scheduled, and put an end to Toronto’s casino question. 

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