July’s Council meeting was a feisty three-day affair with a strong emphasis on an issue I’ve already written about at length: the Jarvis Street bike lanes. I’ve included the key voting result from that item in this month’s scorecard, along with an item relating to the acceptance of two provincially-funded public health nurses. While it was the former that captured the city’s attention, the latter is probably more interesting in that it provides a very clear glimpse at existing ideological voting lines within Toronto City Council.
- PW5.1, Motion 7A — Moved by Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam, this was the most explicit “Save Jarvis” motion. It read as follows: “That the Jarvis Street bicycle lanes be retained and the traffic signal improvements to accommodate left turns for the Gerrard Street East intersection be implemented no later than July 31, 2011, as recommended by Toronto Transportation Services.” It should be noted that, without explanation, several councillors who voted in favour of installing the lanes in 2009 flip-flopped on their position, voting now to remove them. Councillor Josh Matlow said afterward that he voted incorrectly on this item, and should have been recorded in the affirmative. But I’ve decided to institute a policy: the scorecard will always reflect actual, recorded votes, regardless of intent.
- MM10.9 — A member motion moved by Councillor John Filion, this item required a tough-to-find two-thirds majority to pass. It would have seized and allowed a new debate on an earlier item, deferred by Rob Ford’s Executive Committee, regarding two provincially-funded public health nurse positions. Ford had deferred the item in a bizarre decision not to accept the funds. This 21-21 result gives a clear indication of the current ideological lines at City Hall. I’ll highlight, too, that three councillors — Ford-supporters Karen Stintz, Jaye Robinson and James Pasternak — are conspicuous in their ‘absent’ votes on this item.
After crossing the 75% threshold, Councillor Ron Moeser has now officially joined the ‘Ford Nation’ faction on council. The Scarborough politician had shown early signs of independence, voting against pivotal motions like designating the TTC an essential service, but in recent months has been a more reliable vote for the mayor’s office.
Of the remaining ‘mushy middle’ councillors, Chin Lee and Josh Colle tend to swing toward Ford Nation more often than not, while Mary-Margaret McMahon and Ana Bailāo have been edging toward the left. Josh Matlow, fittingly, is at a dead-even 50%. Maybe, for him, the truth is in the middle.
For those who have noticed that this document is getting progressively harder to read as it grows, take solace: things are happening. Stay tuned.