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Not worth City time: Tory

Debates put off indefinitely on Hydro One and banning Uber on city cellphones
May 26, 2015
By Don Peat

Mayor John Tory made no apologies Tuesday for burying two motions - one aimed at banning Uber on city cellphones and one slamming the sell-off of Hydro One.

Tory and the rest of the executive committee quickly voted to defer indefinitely a request from Councillor Janet Davis for council to oppose the privatization of Hydro One and a request from Councillor Jim Karygiannis to ban the Uber app from city-issued cellphones. The vote, which procedural buries the items from further discussion, came before the committee heard from a handful of speakers that had signed up to address the topics.

After the vote, Karygiannis said "leadership was not shown" on the issue.

"The democratic process was not allowed to take place," he said. "That doesn't show responsibility, us as an employer."

Tory argued the Uber issue will come up as part of a larger debate over Toronto's ground transportation once the city's court case against the ride-sharing app is resolved.

Councillor Janet Davis said she was "shocked" by the vote to dump the Hydro One debate.

"Mayor Tory decided that he did not want to hear from the people of Toronto about the privatization of Hydro One," Davis said. "They shut it down, they buried the motion and they cut out the deputants who were committed to come down and signed up to speak today."

Davis said the city has an "absolute interest" in what happens to Hydro One.

"We spend close to $200 million on hydro in all our agencies, boards, commissions and departments, we rely on the electricity grid and we have an interest in making sure that our hydro corridors are accessible," she said. "And the people of Toronto, I think, have a right to have a voice on this issue."

Asked about the votes, Tory said he's made no secret of the fact that the hydro issue isn't council's decision to make.

"There is a fulsome debate going on up at the legislature about Hydro One and if members of city council want to go up and appear in front of committees and make their views known, I'm sure they are most welcome to do so," Tory said.

"To have people sit in that room for say two or three hours this afternoon - not only is it 12 members of city council but it is like 50 city officials sitting in a room - while we debate an item over which we have no jurisdiction, I would have said is not a good use of the people's time."

As for the Uber item, Tory said "it would have just been another grandstanding opportunity for people.

"(Karygiannis' motion) was a solution in search of a problem," Tory said. "There are, out of 12,000 city-issued phones, 24 that have Uber on them."

A city spokesman said Tuesday that 19 city mobile devices have the Uber app - 10 belong to councillors or their staff and nine to city staff.