Deputy mayor Norm Kelly, a veteran politician who was first elected to Metro Toronto council in 1994, was thrust into the spotlight this week after city council stripped Rob Ford of more of his mayoral powers.
After a tumultuous council meeting that lasted more than five hours and transferred more than half the mayor’s budget and staff to Kelly, Ford threatened councillors with litigation on Monday, telling them it would soon be war and they had just “attacked Kuwait.”
But Kelly, 72, sought a new direction for the remainder of the mayor’s term.
“The mayor apparently wants to wage war and I would rather wage peace,” Kelly (Ward 40 Scarborough-Agincourt) said after Monday’s vote.
He said his three immediate goals were to restore the public’s confidence in government and Toronto, to repair damaged relationships between councillors and to focus on the city’s business.
Kelly will replace Ford as the head of the executive committee, manage the mayor’s office dozen staff who no longer work for the mayor and oversee about 60 per cent of the mayor’s office budget. As he did previously, he will continue to chair the government management committee.
He will also assume responsibility in the face of an emergency.
Kelly’s political history
Kelly was first named an alderman on the Municipal Council of the then Borough of Scarborough in 1974, a position he held until 1980, according to his biography on the City of Toronto website.
He left after winning a seat under Pierre Trudeau, serving as a Liberal MP on Parliament Hill until he was defeated in 1984. The following year, he ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Scarborough.
Outside of politics, Kelly is a respected historian and was a real estate agent until he was next elected for municipal office in 1994.
Kelly on council
Nov. 19, 2013: The transfer of power begins at city hall
Nov. 18, 2013: Council votes to hand over much of Ford’s powers to Kelly.
Nov. 14, 2013: After Ford uses vulgar sexual language while on live television, Kelly said Ford’s moral authority to govern is eroding.
Nov. 11, 2013: Kelly supports Ford’s decision to attend the city’s Remembrance Day ceremony, saying his father, who served during the Second World War, told him, “You salute the office, not the person.”
Nov. 6, 2013: Kelly urges Ford to take a pause and temporarily step away from his duties at city hall.
Nov. 5, 2013: Ford admits he has smoked crack cocaine.
Nov. 4, 2013: Kelly says he accepts the mayor’s apology and said his acknowledgment that his personal lifestyle was affecting the life of the city was a good first step. Kelly added that Ford also addressed at least three concerns of the executive committee including getting a driver.
Nov. 3, 2013: During his weekly radio show, Ford says he will not resign. After the episode airs, Kelly appealed for everyone, including Ford’s critics on city council, to give the mayor a second chance.
Nov. 2, 2013: After police say they had found what appears to be the so-called crack video, Kelly holds a private meeting with Ford. Kelly says he presented three options for Ford.
Aug. 19, 2013: Kelly is appointed deputy mayor.
Aug. 1, 2013: Holyday wins a provincial byelection and leaves city council.
June 11, 2013: Ford removes Coun. Paul Ainslie as chair of the government management committee, replacing him with Kelly. Ainslie is now chair of the parks and environment committee.
April 16, 2013: Kelly supports a casino in downtown Toronto
Jan. 29, 2013: Kelly, a global warming skeptic, said he was in favour of preparing the city for extreme weather situations, adding it was “better to be safe than sorry.”
Nov. 1, 2012: Kelly opposes a deal between the City of Toronto and the provincial transit agency Metrolinx on the new light-rail transit (LRT) lines set for Eglinton, Sheppard Avenue East, Finch Avenue West and along the Scarborough RT route.
Feb. 24, 2012: Kelly says he supports a sales tax – not a parking spot levy – to fund the Sheppard subway extension. He suggested raising the HST by 0.5 per cent. It’s estimated that would bring in $250 million a year.
Feb. 20, 2012: In a 5-4 vote, Webster is fired. Kelly, Denzil Minnan-Wong, Cesar Palacio, Vincent Crisanti and Frank Di Giorgio supported his termination.
Feb. 17, 2012: Kelly, a member of the TTC board, is one of five members who called for a special meeting to fire TTC general manager Gary Webster.
Feb. 1, 2012: Kelly said he supported keeping the Eglinton-Scarborough Crosstown transit line underground.
Dec. 1, 2011: Kelly says the cost of restoring St. James Park could be $60,000.
Nov. 15, 2011: After an eviction notice was issued for Occupy Toronto protesters at St. James Park, Kelly thanked protesters for protecting the botanical garden at the park and asked them to “move out peacefully.”
June 14, 2011: Kelly said he was open to selling the naming rights to public parks. The comments came during a debate on selling names rights for public spaces, including TTC stops.
May 27, 2011: Kelly unveils the first phase of Underpass Park near King and River streets.
Nov. 29, 2010: Ford unveils the team that will surround him as mayor. He names Kelly the chair of the parks and environment committee, and Doug Holyday the deputy mayor.
Nov. 4, 2008: Ryerson student Alexandra Hunnings asked city councillors if they supported Barack Obama or John McCain in the U.S. federal election. Kelly was one of two councillors who refused to participate in the survey. (The other councillor was Mike Del Grande.)