It was not the councillors’ annual party, but then again, the event is not exactly the city’s official holiday.
Rather, the 50th council session is being celebrated in various ways, including a party at the Olive Garden on College Street. After two decades at Queen’s Park, the Progressive Conservatives are now guests at the table. This year, that meant a special permission slip for PC MLA Mike Colle.
Despite the new relationship, the pair were not seen in public together, and Mr. Tory was only in the lobby near the end of the session, when the celebrity began to try and persuade them to reconsider the legal status of short-term vacation rentals.
Mr. Tory’s office had earlier urged Toronto City Council not to adopt a resolution that would have made it illegal to stay in rooming houses for less than 28 days, an issue Ms. Ford has twice refused to support. (She did so on her first day as premier, and again in early November, prior to a holiday recess.)
After the party ended, Mr. Tory was assigned a meeting with Mr. Colle at City Hall. But just as the official start of the session was about to begin, Mr. Tory gave his guests the boot.
“They chose to be here at a time I didn’t want to be there,” Mr. Tory told the gathered reporters outside the council chamber, in response to a question about his direction to the caucus. “Obviously they’re under orders to be here.”
Mr. Tory then left for a meeting with his caucus.
Asked if he has had any contact with the province, Mr. Tory said he doesn’t plan to. “I haven’t talked to anyone in the Minister’s office — not personally, not over the phone.”
Mr. Tory said there is an environment now, between the end of the last session and a new one beginning Monday, that would be “a little more conducive” to them reconsidering on the issue.
“Our agenda certainly was to ensure that we came into the new session that we started as opposed to the session that we ended with a focused effort to deal with as many things we can before we move on to many other things,” he said.
So will that mean they will defy the premier?
Mr. Tory wouldn’t speculate on anything. “You will have to wait and see,” he said.
Mr. Colle wouldn’t say anything of substance, either. But he did say that it was a “mixed bag” the party that his group and others may or may not reach out to Toronto City Council to reverse its vote.
It’s unclear what the province will do, if anything, on the issue.
The premier has already said that Toronto’s new status as a court of appeal city, which means the province and not the federal government has legal authority over the province’s will, will affect whether they pay attention to it.
Ms. Ford also alluded to the possibility of some slight tweaking to the wording of Toronto’s bylaw, which is where most of the current confusion over the issue lies. The bylaw specifies that recreational purposes — such as cooking — are permitted in rooming houses; Toronto has done this since at least 2007, but recently decided the city may consider some changes to that limitation, which would put a stop to the limited stay policy that helped Ms. Ford put her campaign together.
On her last day as Progressive Conservative Leader, Ms. Kwok told the Globe she was interested in getting more space for recreational activities in rooming houses, and the so-called “six-week rule.”