One day after Toronto's city council voted in favour of not only ending the three-year-old five-cent bag fee, it also approved a motion to ban plastic bags by 2013. Mayor Rob Ford took to the airwaves to call it the "dumbest thing council has done."
Who was expecting the city of Toronto to implement a ban on plastic bags? Mayor Rob Ford was just seeking to end the five-cent (six cents with the HST) bag fee, but certainly was not anticipating the motion.
During Wednesday’s city council meeting, Councillor David Shiner introduced a surprise motion to prohibit all retail stores in the city from distributing plastic bags. Councillors voted 27-17 in favour of the ban, including Councillors Gary Crawford, Josh Matlow, Denzil Minnan-Wong and Adam Vaughan.
Those who opposed Wednesday’s motion, such as Mayor Ford and Councillor Norm Kelly, expect the city to be sued over the plastic bag ban. Toronto now joins cities like San Francisco, Portland and Los Angeles in banning plastic bags.
Meanwhile, consumers will not have to pay the bag fee between July 1 and Dec. 31.
Ford spoke with radio host John Oakley on AM640 Thursday morning where he lambasted both the councillors who supported the motion and the people of Toronto for not participating in municipal politics.
When Oakley asked what happened, the mayor criticized Shiner and said he didn’t expect him to do it.
“I don’t know how he is going to explain to his constituents at election time that he banned all plastic bags, that’s going to be hard to explain,” stated Ford. “I feel sorry for him.”
“It’s the dumbest thing council has done and council has done some dumb things let me tell you,” said Ford, who noted that a body cannot ban plastic bags all of a sudden. He also believes the next municipal election campaign has begun already. “We have to get rid of some of these councillors.”
Ford reiterated his belief that the City is going to be sued by the likes of retailers, the plastic industry or grocery stores.
The mayor explained that he believes part of the blame should be placed on the people. Ford said he gets “frustrated” because constituents of this city “are just sitting back listening but they don’t pick up the phone, they don’t go down to City Hall, they don’t ask questions.”
Should the mayor have more clout on issues such as these? Ford said there should be a review of how much power a mayor should have instead of just one vote because he represents a city of more than three million rather than 50,000.
In order for the ban to be overturned, a councillor who voted against the motion has to get the support from 30 councillors to reopen the issue to garner another vote on the matter at hand, which Ford noted will be “a real challenge.”
“We’re turning the city around,” concluded Ford. “Call them for what they are, these NDPers are just used to the gravy train and the gravy train is over. So whenever they want to take a shot they can and if this is their way of taking a shot – banning plastic bags – it’s a pretty stupid shot.”