bill 23 ontario john sewell

Chaos at Queen's Park as 81-year-old Toronto legend escorted out by police

A former Toronto mayor and Order of Canada member was escorted out of Queen's Park by police on Wednesday in a bizarre series of events, part of a chaotic day at the Ontario legislative building as Doug Ford's PC government held hearings on its controversial housing bill.

The legislation, dubbed Bill 23, strips away municipalities' planning powers and environmental protections under the guise of fast-tracking housing, a move that has been slammed by opposition parties, political commentators, and even former mayors.

John Sewell served as the 58th mayor of Toronto from 1978 to 1980, but the Order of Canada member is not a fan of the new bill, and was denied the opportunity to voice his concerns during delegations on Wednesday morning.

But it didn't exactly work out for Sewell. Waterloo MPP and Finance & Treasury Board Critic for Ontario's Official Opposition, Catherine Fife, posted photos of a shocking scene as the 81-year-old political legend was escorted out of the sitting by police.

Sewell has a personal horse in this race, as he has been heavily involved in social housing and urban planning affairs in his post-mayoral career.

He served as chair of the Toronto public housing authority from 1986 to 1988, and was later instrumental in leading the charge on planning reform in Toronto, sitting as chair of the Royal Commission on Planning and Development Reform in Ontario from 1991-1993.

So it's understandable why Sewell was so vocal in his dissent for Bill 23, which will basically undo his life's work in the name of urban sprawl and further line the pockets of the region's increasingly-wealthy real estate developers.

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