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Doug Ford gives budget chief’s role a pass

Toronto councillor Doug Ford speaks during budget committee deliberations at City Hall in Toronto January 8, 2013.

J.P. MOCZULSKI/The Globe and Mail

He led Friday's committee meeting, but it wasn't enough to persuade Doug Ford to take over for former Toronto budget chair Mike Del Grande full-time.

Mr. Ford, the budget committee's vice-chair, will remain at its helm until Mr. Del Grande's formal replacement is named. But he reiterated after the meeting that he is not interested in the permanent gig.

"No, 100 per cent not, no way," he told reporters.

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Mr. Ford is one of several councillors – including Denzil Minnan-Wong, Peter Milczyn, and David Shiner – to say he is not after the job. Michelle Berardinetti, a budget committee member, joined their ranks Friday.

Some councillors have questioned who would want the job – and to be the public face of potential budget cuts – heading into next year's election.

Paul Ainslie has said he has not been offered the post, but would be happy to take it.

Friday's meeting lasted only a few minutes and Mr. Ford said soon after, "I'll never be a chair."

"I've got a lot of things on the go right now. I'll always support the team any way I can. I'll fill in for the time being, until we pick a proper chair," he said.

Mr. Del Grande resigned as chair this week, after council added $12-million in new spending to the budget, and after the mayor went against the fiscal agenda to support a long-shot bid to freeze taxes.

Mr. Del Grande also said he believed a motion calling for greater transparency in the budget process, which passed 25-20, was essentially a vote of no-confidence.

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Mr. Del Grande told The Globe and Mail on Thursday that he would make a "clean break" from the mayor's office, quitting not only as budget chair but also leaving the high-powered executive committee.

If there was any animosity over the resignation, Doug Ford didn't show it Friday.

"He's a good guy," he said of Mr. Del Grande. "He's just tired. We've got to move on, that's all."

Mr. Ford did add the resignation could have been better timed. Mr. Del Grande handed his resignation letter to Mayor Rob Ford on the day of the budget, overshadowing it.

When asked who should replace Mr. Del Grande, Doug Ford didn't offer any names, but said there are plenty of talented people to choose from. He wouldn't say whether Mr. Del Grande could return.

Ms. Berardinetti said Mr. Del Grande's replacement should come from the budget committee, though she declined to name anyone specifically.

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She said she believes "a fair amount of people" want the job and that "a lot of the really hard work" when it comes to setting the fiscal agenda has already been done.

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