The scandal that has enveloped Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is creating tension in the Canadian cabinet, with Finance Minister Jim Flaherty suggesting he objected to Employment Minister Jason Kenney, a lawmaker from Calgary, commenting on the matter.
Flaherty, the minister responsible for the greater Toronto region and a long-time friend of Ford’s, said “I don’t comment on the mayor of Calgary” when asked late yesterday about Kenney’s comments.
Flaherty and Kenney have taken opposite positions about Ford, who has said he smoked crack cocaine. While Flaherty told reporters in November he was close to Ford’s family and that Ford should make his own decisions, Kenney said Nov. 19 that Ford “should step aside and stop dragging the City of Toronto through this – through this terrible embarrassment,”
The Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported Dec. 13 that Flaherty confronted Kenney in the country’s legislature following those comments, telling him to keep quiet on the matter in a profanity-filled exchange.
The federal government has sought to keep out of the debate over whether Ford, a Conservative supporter, should resign. Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Nov. 21 it was up to the “residents of Toronto” to decide Ford’s future even though his government could not condone the purchase of illegal drugs.
“We have ensured that we have strict laws in place and could never support the use or purchase of illegal drugs by anyone in political positions such as that,” Harper said at the time.
Kenney told the CBC on Dec. 14 that there were no “significant divisions” in the cabinet on the matter.
While refusing to resign, Ford was stripped of many of his powers by Toronto’s city council last month.
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