The abrupt decision to ban plastic bags in Toronto was a surprise to everyone (even David Shiner, who introduced the motion at council last week). Now that enough time has passed to progress beyond the “what the heck just happened” phase, the city’s columnists are weighing in on the unpredictable vote and whether it amounts to a sucker punch to Rob Ford (the consensus: yes).
What the pundits are saying about the ban and the political fallout:
• It all went down too quickly
At Torontoist, Steve Kupferman argues that even if the ban is a good idea, council was too impulsive in forcing the decision. “They voted a significant change in the life of the city into existence sight unseen,” he writes. “At best, that’s irresponsible.” Kupferman details the usual procedure for adopting a bylaw, which includes detailed analysis of the proposal, a survey of similar cities that have already implemented similar bylaws, legal opinions and recommendations for how and when to implement the ban. In comparison, Toronto council’s sudden decision wasn’t good governance, but “a bunch of hand-wavey crap.”
• Ford is losing it (and by “it” we mean power)
The National Post’s Peter Kuitenbrouwer sees the ban in the context of Rob Ford’s slipping grip on city council (and becomes the thousandth person to wonder if the mayor is a lame duck). Kuitenbrouwer thinks Ford had been gaining momentum in recent days, earning praise both for attending an anti-homophobia event and for a recent speech on his city vision. But the mayor’s decision to scrap the tax alienated some supporters, like Jaye Robinson, and inspired others, like Shiner, to a pull a Karen Stintz–like change of heart. Worse, the outcome of the bag showdown turned off voters; callers to Ford’s Newstalk 1010 show lambasted him for losing control over council.
• Ford’s going to fight the ban with every trick he’s got
Rob Ford trashed the ban to the Globe and Mail, calling it “outright stupid, never mind dumb.” Liberally citing legal advice from city solicitor Anna Kinastowski, Ford initially said the ban wouldn’t stand up in the courts should anyone challenge the decision. However, that seems like a creative interpretation of Kinastowski’s comments. She told reporters the ban “may be legally supportable, but we haven’t looked into it yet.”
Expect the plastic bag debate to stretch through the summer: in September, Ford’s executive committee will review a report from Kinastowski and council will also vote on whether to enact the bylaw in the fall. “I don’t see this ban going through as expected on January 1,” Ford said Thursday. Although his track record on predicting the future of plastic bags in the city isn’t exactly perfect.
• Good Idea or Not, the Bag Ban Came About in the Wrong Way [Torontoist]
• Peter Kuitenbrouwer: Plastic bag debacle sends Rob Ford back into political hole [National Post]
• Plastic bag ban: Mayor Rob Ford says lawsuit coming [Metro News]
• Mayor plans to put lid on plastic bag ban [Globe and Mail]