Protesters bring anti-Ford message to new council meet and greet

First-time city councillors got a taste of what may be in store for them during the next four years at a reception at the University of Toronto Wednesday night.

And if student reaction at the university is any indication, Mayor Rob Ford’s agenda will dominate the discussion.

A small group of student protesters disrupted a meet and greet for newly elected city councillors at the University of Toronto’s Croft Chapter House Wednesday. The University of Toronto Political Science Alumni Association hosted the event, bringing together councillors, students, alumni and various city stakeholders in the public and private sectors. Twelve out of the 14 rookie councillors attended.

The protesters shouted anti-Ford messages and unfurled a banner that read: “Even a rookie knows better than to pick Ford as captain.”

“A lot of us are unhappy with the fact that Rob Ford was elected as mayor,” said Danielle Sandhu, a protestor and vice-president of equity at the University of Toronto Students’ Union. “We’re not pleased with his politics, we’re not pleased with his priorities for our city and we wanted to make sure that the other councillors are well-aware of what our priorities are.”

For Sandhu, one of those priorities includes support for Transit City, which Ford vowed to halt earlier in the day.

David Rayside, a political science professor at the University of Toronto, doubted the outbursts’ efficacy.

“There’s a fairly broad range of people who are very uneasy about Rob Ford being mayor,” he said. “But now that change has occurred, it might make more sense to focus on what the mayor will actually do and to actually be more strategic about protesting specific things.”

Other attendees expressed concern over Ford’s plans and a perceived shift to the right in council. But councillor Jaye Robinson (Ward 25), Ford’s recommended appointment to the executive committee, says those fears are unfounded.

“The fact that he’s included me I think is a sign that he’s open to hearing all different ideologies,” she said. “I’m looking forward to actually serving on the executive because I feel it’s a place where you can affect positive change.”