Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Katz versus Ford

Winnipeg, Toronto mayors similar in some ways, dissimilar in many others

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In the spring of 2004, Winnipeg voters handed the reins of Manitoba's largest city to a small-C conservative populist named Sam Katz.

In the fall of 2010, Toronto voters handed the reins of Canada's largest city to a small-C conservative populist named Rob Ford.

At first glance, the only other connection between the two mayors seems to be their monosyllabic surnames.

On a purely physical level, the plus-sized Ford and the health-conscious Katz could never be mistaken for twins.

Ford has a terse relationship with some members of the Toronto media, especially reporters from the daily Star. Katz is always gracious with Winnipeg reporters, including those who work for the daily Free Press. Ford appears to be in trouble with his electorate after less than one term, while Katz has been elected three times.

Yet, there remain policy and political similarities between these very different mayors, as the following Ford versus Katz comparison illustrates:

 

Rapid-transit tribulations

 

TORONTO MAYOR ROB FORD: Within months of his election in October 2010, Ford declared the death of Transit City, a rapid-transit plan endorsed by previous mayor David Miller. Eighteen months later, Toronto's city council approved an amended light-rail transit plan. Ford has offered little love for light-rail transit, expressing a preference instead for more expensive underground subways.

WINNIPEG MAYOR SAM KATZ: Within months of his election in June 2004, Katz led a council drive to cancel the Southwest Rapid Transit Corridor, a busway approved under previous mayor Glen Murray. Four years later, Katz signed off on an amended version of what's now known as the Southwest Transitway. Katz has offered little love for bus corridors, expressing a preference instead for more expensive light-rail transit.

 

Waterfront amusement plan

 

ROB FORD: In 2011, Ford endorsed a Port Lands redevelopment plan that included a ferris wheel and monorail. The plan died on the floor of Toronto's city council after elected officials received hundreds of letters from concerned Torontonians.

Sam Katz: In 2008, Katz announced a plan to spend $7 million worth of recreation funds on a privately owned and operated water park. A version of this plan that would have placed a water park at The Forks was put off on the floor of Winnipeg's city council after elected officials received hundreds of emails from concerned Winnipeggers.

 

PC connection

 

ROB FORD: Former Ford strategist Richard Ciano is the president of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party. The mayor himself is the son of Doug Ford Sr., a longtime Ontario Tory MPP. Officially, there are no parties at Toronto's city council and Ford sits as an independent.

SAM KATZ: Current and former Katz advisers with Progressive Conservative ties include former policy-director-turned-Manitoba-opposition-leader Hugh McFadyen, current chief of staff Bonnie Staples-Lyon, former chief of staff Ryan Craig and former special adviser Brian Kelcey. Officially, there are no parties at Winnipeg's city council and Katz sits as an independent.

 

CTF connection

 

ROB FORD: Adrienne Batra, the former Manitoba director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, served as a spokeswoman for Rob Ford.

SAM KATZ: Colin Craig, the current Manitoba director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, served as the director of Katz's Economic Opportunities Commission.

 

Involvement in sport

 

ROB FORD: Toronto's mayor played football in high school and later became a coach. He also administers a football foundation.

SAM KATZ: Winnipeg's mayor is the majority owner of the Winnipeg Goldeyes baseball club. The ball team also administers a foundation.

 

Conflict-of-interest

kerfuffle

 

ROB FORD: Toronto's mayor will appear in court in September to face allegations he violated Ontario's Municipal Conflict of Interest Act. At issue is Ford's decision to take part in a vote that excused him from paying back donations to his football foundation. At stake is Ford's seat at city council.

SAM KATZ: Winnipeg's mayor is in no such trouble. In 2008, he recused himself from votes concerning a rent dispute over Parcel Four, a city-owned surface lot once sublet to his Winnipeg Goldeyes. In April, Katz recused himself from votes concerning a proposed hotel and water park at the same plot of land, situated south of Shaw Park, where the Goldeyes play.

 

-- additional sources: Toronto Star, Globe & Mail, National Post and Toronto Life.

bartley.kives@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 6, 2012 A8

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About Bartley Kives

Bartley Kives wants you to know his last name rhymes with Beavis, as in Beavis and Butthead. He aspires to match the wit, grace and intelligence of the 1990s cartoon series.

Bartley joined the Free Press in 1998 as a music critic. He spent the ensuing 7.5 years interviewing the likes of Neil Young and David Bowie and trying to stay out of trouble at the Winnipeg Folk Festival before deciding it was far more exciting to sit through zoning-variance appeals at city hall.

In 2006, Bartley followed Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz from the music business into civic politics. He spent seven years covering city hall from a windowless basement office.

He is now reporter-at-large for the Free Press and also writes an outdoor-recreation column called Offroad for the Outdoors page.

A canoeist, backpacker and food geek, Bartley is fond of conventional and wilderness travel. He is the author of A Daytripper’s Guide to Manitoba: Exploring Canada’s Undiscovered Province, the only comprehensive travel guidebook for Manitoba – and a Canadian bestseller, to boot. He is also co-author of Stuck In The Middle: Dissenting Views of Winnipeg, a collaboration with photographer Bryan Scott.

Bartley appears every second Wednesday on CityTV’s Breakfast Television. His work has also appeared on CBC Radio and in publications such as National Geographic Traveler, explore magazine and Western Living.

Born in Winnipeg, he has an arts degree from the University of Winnipeg and a master’s degree in journalism from Ottawa’s Carleton University. He is the proud owner of a blender.

On Twitter: @bkives
Email: bartley.kives@freepress.mb.ca

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