Rob Ford

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Rob Ford
Born Robert Bruce Ford
May 28, 1969 (1969-05-28) (age 54)
Etobicoke, Ontario
Residence Toronto
Predecessor David Miller
Political party Independent (2000 – present) Note: Municipal politicians in Toronto run on a Nonpartisan basis
Spouse Renata Brejniak (m. 2000)
Children 2

Robert Bruce "Rob" Ford (born May 28, 1969) is a Canadian politician and businessman. He is the 64th and current Mayor of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Ford was elected mayor in the 2010 mayoral election, and took office on December 1 of that year.

Prior to being mayor, Ford was city councillor for a ward in the Toronto district of Etobicoke. He was first elected to city council in the 2000 Toronto municipal election, and was re-elected to his council seat in 2003 and again in 2006. His brother Doug Ford, Jr. is currently a Toronto city councillor. Ford's father Doug Ford, Sr. was also a politician and served as MPP. The Ford family owns DECO Labels, a multi-national labelling and printing firm based in Etobicoke.

Personal life

Born in Etobicoke in 1969, Ford is the youngest of four children of Diane and Doug Ford, Sr. Ford, Sr. was the founder of DECO Labels and Tags, which makes pressure-sensitive labels for plastic-wrapped grocery products at an estimated $100 million in annual sales.[1] As an indication of the family's wealth, the success of the family business allowed the family to build a six-bedroom home in Etobicoke, which has a swimming pool and gardens that can host nearly a thousand visitors.[1]

While growing up, Ford attended the public Scarlett Heights Collegiate in Etobicoke.[2] Ford dreamed of becoming a professional football player and his father paid for Ford to attend special camps of the Washington Redskins and the University of Notre Dame. After graduating from high school, Ford went to Carleton University to study political science. Ford made the football squad, but did not play in any games. Ford left Carleton after one year to return to Toronto and did not complete his degree.[1][2]

Ford continued his involvement in football as a high school coach. Ford first coached at Newtonbrook Secondary School in 2001 until he was dismissed over a dispute with a player. He coached at Don Bosco Catholic Secondary School from 2001 until 2013 until the Catholic Board dismissed him after a controversial television interview led to a review of his coaching.[3] Ford had donated $20,000 to equip the Don Bosco team and started a foundation to fund teams at other schools struggling to field football teams.[4] Ford continued coaching after becoming Toronto mayor and was criticized for involving his political aides in the Don Bosco program and the football foundation. His fund-raising for the football foundation on city letterhead led to his being sued for conflict of interest.[3]

After Carleton, Ford started a sales job at the family's DECO business.[1] After Doug Ford Sr.'s death in 2006, the Ford family retained ownership of the firm through the Doug Ford Holdings corporation.[1][5] Ford, along with his brothers and his mother are directors of the company.[5] Ford resides in Etobicoke with his wife Renata and their daughter and son.[6]

Ford Sr. became a Member of the Ontario Legislature during the term of the Progressive Conservative (PC) government of Mike Harris.[7] After Ford Sr.'s death, Rob has maintained political connections with the provincial PC party and the federal Conservative Parties. A picture of former Ontario Premier Mike Harris with Ford's father adorns the mayor's office. Ford describes his father as his "political hero, my business hero, he's my hero overall."[1] Ford has worked on the election campaigns of several PC candidates, including John Tory in a 2005 by-election.[8]

Ford has had various health issues, including asthma and kidney stones. He was hospitalized twice in 2012, once for kidney stones [9] and once for stomach and throat “irritation” that aggravated his asthma.[10]

Political career

City councillor

Ford served three terms as city councillor from 2000 until the end of 2011, representing the ward of Ward 2 Etobicoke North. During his term as councillor, Ford was a strong critic of councillors' spending.[11][12] Ford was known for his controversial comments and passionate arguments at Council.[13]

Ford was first elected to Toronto City Council in 2000, defeating incumbent Elizabeth Brown in Ward 2 Etobicoke North.[6] Ward 2 is located in the north-west corner of the city in the former city of Etobicoke. The ward's population of over 50,000 in 2006 was 53% composed of immigrants, the largest group being South Asians. It is mixed in nature with 40% of dwellings being single-family detached homes and 35% being high-rise apartments.[14] It is also known as an area that has seen gang violence, including six murders in 2000.[15] Ford had previously resided in the ward, but moved in 2000 prior to the election, after his marriage, to Ward 4. In 2003, Ford was re-elected with 80% of the vote in Ward 2,[16] defeating two candidates from the local Somali community.[17]In the 2006 election, he won again, this time with 66% of the vote.[18]

One of the first concerns of the newly elected councillor was raised in the 2001 budget deliberations. Ford proposed a cut to each councillor's $200,000 office budget, money for travel to conferences, ending city limousine usage and club memberships. According to Ford, "if we wiped out the perks for council members, we'd save $100 million easy."[19] Ford was one of only four councillors who voted against a 5% increase in property taxes for 2001.[20] Ford made a point of not using his allotted city budget for his office expenses, paying for the expenses from his salary. He claimed $10 for his first year, and $4 for his second year. In Ford's opinion, "all this office budget stuff is self-promotion to benefit yourself. Why should the taxpayers have to pay for it? It boggles my mind."[21]

During the debates around the 2002 municipal budget, Ford and councillor Giorgio Mammoliti got in several heated exchanges, where Mammolitti called Ford a "goon" and Ford called Mammolitti a "scammer". The argument got heated to the point where Ford called Mammolitti a "Gino-boy". Mammolitti called the insult a "racist remark" and filed a complaint with the city's human-rights office. Three councillors stated that they heard the insult said by Ford, who denied it. Ford dismissed the councillors stating that they were liars if they thought he had made a racist remark. "I'm a conservative and the majority of people are left-wing and cannot stand my politics."[22] The exchanges led councillor Pam McConnell to complain about 'testosterone poisoning' in the chamber. Ford extended his exchanges outside the chamber with columnist John Barber of The Globe and Mail: "I am not a racist. Anyone who calls me a racist is going to face the consequences!" to which Barber replied "You are a racist."[23]

In the 2003 municipal election, Ford endorsed twelve political candidates on a platform of fiscal responsibility to take on fellow councillors: "We just need to get rid of these life-long politicians that just give out money to special interest groups and don't serve the community. I'm really teed off. We need to get a new council or this city is going to go down the drain."[12] Ford targetted Brian Ashton, Maria Augimeri, Sandra Bussin, Olivia Chow, Pam McConnell, Howard Moscoe[24] and Sherene Shaw.[12] Shaw did go down in defeat to Ford's future budget chief Michael Del Grande,[16] while the rest were re-elected.[16]

Ford made a priority of responding to local constituents' problems, often returning calls himself or meeting with city staff to resolve problems.[25] In 2005, local radio station AM 640 tested councillors on their response by having a reporter make an after-hours call to report a pothole. Ford was one of only three councillors to call back in person, within a day.[26] His zeal in attending to constituents' problems became a competitive rivalry with fellow councillors Howard Moscoe and Gloria Lindsay Luby.[26][25] Ford gave out his personal phone number to constituents, a practice he continued as mayor.

In June 2006 Ford came under fire for making a controversial remark during a Council meeting. During the meeting Ford spoke out against the city donating $1.5 million to help prevent AIDS. Ford argued that most tax payers should not be concerned with AIDS because "If you are not doing needles and you are not gay, you wouldn't get AIDS probably, that's bottom line...those are the facts."[27] After then Mayor David Miller pointed out that women are the largest growing demographic of people contracting AIDS, Ford responded that it must mean 'they are sleeping with bi-sexual men'.[27] Ford publicly apologized for the comments in May 2010 during his mayoral campaign after his opponent, George Smitherman, called Ford's character into question over the remarks.[28]

On March 7, 2007, Ford made controversial comments about cyclists' use of the roads, saying, "What I compare bike lanes to is swimming with the sharks. Sooner or later you're going to get bitten... Roads are built for buses, cars, and trucks, not for people on bikes. My heart bleeds for them when I hear someone gets killed, but it’s their own fault at the end of the day."[29] On May 25, 2009, Ford said, "It's no secret, okay. The cyclists are a pain in the ass to the motorists."[29] As councillor, Ford opposed the installation of bike lanes on University Avenue and Jarvis Street and during his election campaign proposed spending money on off-road cycle paths.[30] Although lanes were installed on Jarvis in 2010, Ford made it a priority to get them removed, and as mayor, was able to get council to reverse the decision in 2011, a move which was criticized by cycling advocates and led to protests.[31] Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong proposed an alternate plan to install physically separated bike lanes on Sherbourne Street instead and the Jarvis lanes were removed after the completion of the Sherbourne lanes. While Toronto Cyclist Union president Andrea Garcia praised the Sherbourne lanes installation: '"Cities all across North America that are doing way more innovative things for cyclists have been building separated bike lanes for a long time...It’s great to finally see Toronto catch up" while still regretting the loss of lanes on Jarvis: "People live and work and go to school on both of these streets and they all need a safe way to get to these places." [31]

At a council meeting on March 5, 2008, Ford said, "Those Oriental people work like dogs. They work their hearts out. They are workers non-stop. They sleep beside their machines. That's why they're successful in life. I went to Seoul, South Korea, I went to Taipei, Taiwan. I went to Tokyo, Japan. That's why these people are so hard workers (sic). I'm telling you, the Oriental people, they're slowly taking over."[32] The comments led to a sit-in at City Hall.[32] Ford later apologized for using the term "orientals", but stood by his remarks, claiming that they were meant as a positive assessment of their work ethic. This comment continues to be re-published and re-broadcast, and continues to stir controversy.[33][34][35][36] Following media attention on Ford as reports circulated that drug dealers were trying to sell a 90 second cell phone recording of Ford smoking crack Slate magazine included this quote in an article that compared Ford with Diamond Joe Quimby, the corrupt may of Springfield, on The Simpsons TV show.[37] On May 22, 2013, Jon Stewart's The Daily Show devoted over 8 minutes of airtime to covering Ford.[38] The Daily Show included Ford's "work like dogs" comment in its coverage of Ford.[39][40][41][42]

Toronto mayoral election

Ford declared his candidacy for Mayor of Toronto in the 2010 election on March 26, 2010. Councillor Mike Del Grande endorsed Ford: "He’s very popular with ‘Joe Public.’ He’s definitely a contender, not a wild card."[43] At the campaign kickoff meeting, Ford laid out his platform, organized into four main themes: "putting people and families first, focusing on the fundamentals, reducing waste and eliminating unnecessary taxes." Among his campaign promises, he said that he would repeal the vehicle registration and land transfer taxes implemented during the term of mayor David Miller, and make the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) an essential service. During his campaign, he promised voters that "services will not be cut, guaranteed". While in office, he qualified this statement to no major service reductions, and called none of his changes cuts.[44]

During the campaign, Ford criticized the awarding of a sole-sourced contract to operate the Boardwalk Pub on Lake Shore Boulevard. The 20-year contract, awarded in 2006, gave the pub the right to be the sole provider of food and drinks to the public beach areas. Ford told the Toronto Sun editorial board in 2010 that the contract was "corrupt" and "stinks to high heaven." The comments led to the owner/operator of the pub, George Foulidis, to file a $6 million defamation law suit against Ford, claiming that Ford made "false and defamatory comments" about him. The suit went to trial on November 13, 2012.[45] Ford himself testified how he was describing the process was corrupt and that his words had been sensationalized by the Toronto Sun to sell papers.[46] The suit was dismissed in December 2012.[47]

Ford was elected mayor with 380,201 votes (47%) over George Smitherman's 287,393 (35.6%) and Joe Pantalone with 94,840 (11.7%). The voter turnout was around 52% of registered voters, the highest in Toronto's post-amalgamation history. Ford's 11% margin of victory was the largest for any incoming mayor in post-amalgamation history, roughly double that of Mel Lastman in 1997 and David Miller in 2003.[48] Ward-by-ward electoral results showed that Ford had won all of the former pre-amalgamation suburbs, while Smitherman topped districts in the pre-amalgamation Toronto districts. Ford also received 80,000 votes from the "Downtown 13" wards, or 20% of his total votes, while 60% of Smitherman's votes came from Wards 27 and 28, the two wards corresponding to the provincial riding he had represented as MPP.[49]

Ford spent $1,723,605.77 on his campaign, which exceeded the mayoral campaign spending limit of $1,305,066.65. This was not an infraction as the rules exclude a broad range of fundraising expenditures. Smitherman's campaign spent $2.2 million. At the end of the campaign, the Ford campaign was $639,526.60 in debt and this was repaid after a fund-raising dinner in January 2011.[5]

In April 2011, John Lorinc of the The Globe and Mail wrote an article about the Ford campaign finances, noting that $69,722.31 of campaign expenses were paid by Doug Ford Holdings, the Ford family firm. The family firm also paid for a $22,713.04 contract to rent the Toronto Congress Centre for a campaign kickoff event. Both expenses were repaid but the borrowing may have constituted an illegal corporate contribution to the campaign.[5] Activist Adam Chaleff-Freudenthaler and lawyer Max Reed filed a complaint about the Ford campaign's borrowing and over-spending to the City of Toronto Compliance Audit Committee.[50] In May 2011, the Committee voted to proceed with an audit of the mayor's campaign finances.[51] Penalties under the Municipal Elections Act range from fines to removal from office.[51] Ford first appealed the decision to audit the campaign, then dropped the appeal in April 2012. The city contracted the firm Froese Forensic Partners to conduct the audit.[50] The audit found that the Ford campaign had overspent by $40,000, but the audit committee decided to not refer the violation to a special prosecutor.[52]


After the election, Ford had outgoing councillor Case Ootes, a former City of Toronto budget chief, head the "transition team." From his campaign team, Ford named Nick Kouvalis as his chief of staff,[1] Mark Towhey, who had drafted his campaign platform, as his policy advisor.[1] and Adrienne Batra, his communications advisor, as press secretary.[53] Councillor Doug Holyday, who had helped elect Doug Ford Sr., was named deputy mayor.[1] For the Executive Committee of City Council, Ford named councillors who had endorsed him in his campaign. For the inauguration ceremony at the first meeting of the new council, Ford had television commentator Don Cherry introduce him and put the chain of office on him. Cherry, known for his audacious suits, wore a pink suit and garnered some controversy with his remarks. Cherry described how Ford had reversed a mistake of city staff cutting down a tree of a Toronto property owner for no good reason and then billing the property owner, who suffered from Alzheimer's. Cherry added "Put that in your pipe you left-wing kooks" and "I’m wearing pinko for all the pinkos out there that ride bicycles and everything, I thought I’d get it in."[54]

During his term as mayor, Ford has been involved in several publicized incidents while driving, including reading while driving on the Gardiner Expressway,[55] and talking on his cell phone while driving.[55] In another driving incident, Ford passed the rear door of a streetcar, while the front door was open, leading to "an exchange of words with the streetcar operator."[55] As mayor, Ford is entitled to a personal driver and car paid for by the city, but Ford turned down the benefit and drives himself. Ford turned it down on the grounds that he did not want taxpayers to pay for the extra cost.[55] "A million people a day go to work in the city and they drive. They drive themselves. I don't see why I am any different."[55] Similarly, while a councillor, Ford had disagreed with the city giving councillors free TTC passes and fought for the eventual repeal of the perk on the same basis.[56] After the August 2012 incident of reading while driving, Ford was criticized by the media, other mayors[57] and safety advocates[58] and the Toronto Police urged Ford to hire a driver.[59] His brother Doug promised that Rob would get a driver, but it would be an existing staff member.[60] Ford later announced that he would continue to refuse a driver.[61]

Mayor Ford was the focus of further controversy when, according to a report in the Toronto Star, he personally asked city officials to approve drainage and road repairs outside the DECO Labels and Tags headquarters building before its 50th anniversary party in August 2012. Critics such as Councillor Adam Vaughan stated "This is a clear-cut example of using one’s office to gain preferential treatment for private interests."[62] Ford stated that he had made thousands of such requests on behalf of homeowners and other businesses. "Someone has a pothole in front of their house, in front of their business, I go out and fix it. Just like I did for our company."[63]

The Ombudsman for the City of Toronto, Fiona Crean, published a report in September 2012 suggesting that Mayor Ford's office had “compromised” the civic appointments process for city boards and agencies.[64] The report was discussed at Council and Ford refused to discuss the report at Council, instead responding on a radio talk show. "When people are just going to make up stories about you, why are you even going to try to defend yourself when you know it’s just a bunch of malarkey so obviously this is politically driven and I disagree with it."[65] The Ombudsman and the existence of the position itself were later criticized by Ford and became the subject of further debate. In October, Mayor Ford said he wanted to eliminate three watchdog positions: that of the Ombudsman, the Integrity Commissioner and the lobbyist registrar. "You don’t need a lobbyist registry, an ombudsman and an integrity commissioner. They have 20 people; they’re tripping over themselves. They’re trying to make themselves look busy. I’ve never voted in favour of it and never would." All three positions are required under Ontario law and were established after the MFP computer leasing scandal inquiry.[66]


At its first meeting in December 2010, council voted to cancel the annual $60 personal vehicle tax passed by the previous council. The tax cancellation, a campaign promise of Ford's, took effect on January 1, 2011.[67] For the first budget, which was for 2011, the budget was balanced with no tax increases and no significant changes. The budget used a surplus from 2010 and reserve funds to avoid raising taxes. A planned TTC hike was cancelled after Ford objected to it.[68]

For 2012, the Ford administration initiated a consultant review of the services provided by the city. The study included public consultation via online and at public meetings. Participants were asked to group services as 'necessary', 'nice to have', etc. and how to expect to pay for them. Ford himself suggested that the city get out of running the several venues it owns, including the Sony Centre, selling off the Toronto Zoo and closing other zoos run by the City of Toronto. Ford's team promoted a figure of over $700 million as the projected shortfall with no new taxes or cuts made. The budget as proposed by Ford included cuts to various services, including environmental programs, libraries, parks and recreation, and social services, while increasing property tax by 2%, TTC fares and user fees, including those of sports teams of city facilities. In Ford's election campaign, Ford had promised to make savings at City Hall without cuts to services. Two public meetings held at City Hall turned into overnight marathons with hundreds of citizens, labour groups and special interest groups protesting the various cuts. The budget was revised at council to restore over $18 million of spending and send the administration of the Toronto Zoo and the venues for further study. Three smaller zoos were given deadlines of June 2012 to find other funding or close. Later in 2012, the increases in sports teams' user fees was postponed until 2013. In April 2012, it was found that the city was running a surplus of nearly $270 million for 2011, attributed to greater-than-expected land transfer tax revenues and cost-cutting at City Hall.[69] In October 2012, Toronto Council voted to cancel plans to get expressions of interest in purchasing Toronto Zoo.[70]

In 2013, the city budget increased to $9.4 billion for operating expenses and $2.27 billion for capital projects. Unlike previous years, the budget did not use prior-year surplus monies to balance the budget; individual departmental budgets were reduced by $187 million and projected revenues increased by $251 million. The 2012 year-end surplus was used for TTC vehicle purchases and other projects not already budgeted for. As in previous years, taxes increased, including an increase of 2.0% on property taxes, 0.67% on business taxes and a 5 cents per trip increase to TTC fares.[71] Ford supported the budget produced by the Council budget committee, stating that "this budget improves services, lowers our debt, keeps taxes affordable and is based on sustainable spending."[71] At the Council meeting to approve the budget, Ford surprised other members of the executive committee by first voting to freeze taxes, before supporting the 2% increase as proposed.[72]

Labour relations

As part of Ford's campaign promise to "end the gravy train", the administration spent time on consideration of staffing levels at the city. In 2011, the budget committee of council passed several recommendations to cut staff through layoffs and buyouts. In July 2011, the city offered buyout packages to 17,000 staff, depending on department approval, hoping to cut staff by 2,500 voluntarily.[73] At the end of the period, over 1,000 Toronto staff accepted buyouts. In October 2011, council also voted 26–16 to 'contract out' garbage collection west of Yonge Street to a private contractor.[74]

In 2012, several of the city's contracts expired with their unionized staff: inside workers, outside workers, part-time parks and recreation staff, paramedics and library staff. Ford and deputy mayor Doug Holyday put the unions on notice that the unions should expect tough negotiations. The first union to settle was the outside workers, represented by CUPE 416. Negotiations with the outside workers went to the deadline and a deal was made averting a strike or lockout. One major change was the controversial "jobs for life" clause in the bargaining agreement which stated that all permanent employees with 10 years of service or more were guaranteed a job of equal pay for equal value if theirs was contracted out. CUPE accepted a change to 15 years of service under the same provision. During the 2012 bargaining sessions, Holyday refused to allow the union to employ delaying tactics to drag out the talks until the summer, as they had in 2009 and previous years, by negotiating early and threatening to unilaterally impose the city's offer.[75][76][77]

In other contract negotiations, the paramedics were named as an 'essential service' in the outside workers deal, which meant that the paramedics could not go on strike in the future, and contract negotiations would go to arbitration. This provoked a threatened split from CUPE, but the paramedics eventually voted to accept. The inside workers settled with the city without any strike. The part-time parks and recreation staff initially rejected their first offer, but accepted a revised city offer. The library workers' union went on strike in February and a settlement was made one week later with the city.

Transit policy

In the mayoral campaign, Ford proposed to make the TTC an "essential service". Under Ontario law, an essential service designation bars its workers from striking as part of the collective bargaining process, and disputes during collective bargaining are handled under binding arbitration. Toronto City Council approved the designation of the TTC in January 2011. The Government of Ontario introduced the The Toronto Transit Commission Labour Disputes Resolution Act in February 2011[78] and it became law in March 2011.[79]

Another of Ford's campaign pledges was to halt the Transit City transit plan.[80] Instead of the surface light rail transit (LRT) lines of Transit City, Ford proposed to build underground lines. After being elected, Ford negotiated a Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of Ontario and the City of Toronto for the Metrolinx provincial transit agency to build the Crosstown LRT entirely underground while the City of Toronto would build an extension for the Sheppard subway line using its own funds, private funding agreements and any monies remaining from commitments from Ontario and the Government of Canada. Metrolinx subsequently put a stop to the construction of the Sheppard light rail line, which was already started.[81]

The Memorandum of Understanding was to be ratified by Toronto City Council, but never was. Ford set up an agency to study funding of the subway project, under the direction of former councillor Gordon Chong.[82] Chong proposed user fees, parking fees and/or road taxes, but these options were rejected by Ford. In 2012, Toronto City Council held a special meeting to overturn the Ford-Ontario plan and voted to put a section of the Crosstown above-ground, and use the savings to build a LRT line along Finch Avenue West. Council decided further to study whether to put a subway line between the Don Mills subway station and Scarborough Town Centre or put an LRT line along Sheppard as far east as Morningside Avenue.[83] The Council meeting, at the instigation of TTC chair Karen Stintz, led to a special TTC management committee meeting where TTC general manager Gary Webster was fired.[84] Webster, against the wishes of Ford, had recommended that Council build the light rails as proposed in the Transit City plan.[85] Council then held a special meeting to depose the TTC committee, replacing the board members who fired Webster.[86]

The Sheppard panel returned in March 2012 with a recommendation to build the LRT option along Sheppard as originally proposed. Ford opposed the LRT but Council voted to approve the project. At the last minute, Ford's allies on council attempted to set up a parking lot fee to help fund the project, but Ford did not support the fee, and his allies could not sway the majority of council.[87] Ford stated after the vote that this would be an issue in the next municipal election and he would do what he could to prevent the LRT construction and start campaigning to overturn the decision. In April, Metrolinx approved a plan of construction on the LRT transit projects, projecting a completion in 2020.[88]

In 2013, Metrolinx began a study of user fees and taxes to fund future public transit improvements in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area. All area governments were asked for their input before a June 1 deadline for Metrolinx's final report to the Ontario government. Upon the election of new Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, Ford announced his opposition to any of the fees: "If the province puts (tolls) through that’s up to them. I talked to Premier Wynne last week and told her adamantly I’m opposed to tolls…she said she has to look out for the whole province which I understand, but I said I don’t support tolls." In early April, Metrolinx issued a short list of 11 funding sources, including the four options supported by the Toronto Board of Trade: sales tax, payroll tax, parking space levy, gas tax.[89] City of Toronto staff were commissioned to examine the short list and propose a list for City Council to consider and recommend to Metrolinx. The staff report, advocating the parking levy, sales tax and development fees, was delivered to Toronto City Council executive committee, the committee which Ford chairs, for deliberation and recommendation to City Council. Ford announced his opposition to any new fees and expressed a distrust of the Ontario government to implement any fees wisely.[90] When the committee met, however, instead of making a recommendation, the committee voted 6–4 along with Ford to delay the report to Council until after May 28, which would be too late for Council to make any recommendations to Metrolinx. Ford's chief of staff commented that Ford and his team would make any new taxes an issue in the forthcoming 2014 election.[91] City Council removed the item from the Executive Committee's jurisdiction and the report was debated at Council. Council objected to most of the proposed taxes, but did not object to a sales tax and development fees directed for transit.[92]

Media relations

Ford's mayoralty campaign had seen a polarization of the media, and this continued on into his mayoralty. The Toronto Star newspaper and NOW alternative newspaper continued their criticism of Ford[citation needed]. The Toronto Sun newspaper[93][94] and Talk Radio 640 radio station supported his causes.[95][96] Ford had announced his candidacy for mayor on Talk Radio 640 and gave Talk Radio 640 the first interview after his election.[97]

Not long after his election, NOW published a fake nude photo of Ford on its cover, with a strategically placed fig leaf. The issue (NOW is distributed as a free weekly) was initially removed from all locations at City Hall and later returned.[98] While Ford did not ask for an apology, his supporters on council did, but NOW refused. The Toronto Star and Ford began an ongoing dispute. Several columnists regularly wrote critical articles of Ford.[99] In response, Ford refused to meet with Toronto Star reporters and in December 2011, the Toronto Star filed a complaint with the City of Toronto's integrity commissioner.[100]

Ford took a different approach from his predecessor Miller when dealing with the media. The doors to the mayor's office that had been symbolically open during the Miller era were shut. Adrienne Batra, his press secretary, kept Ford's meeting schedule secret except to freedom-of-information requests. After reporters asked if Ford had met with one of his campaign donors Vaughan developer Mario Cortellucci, Batra stopped including the names of Ford's meeting partners.[1] Batra later left the mayor's office to join the Toronto Sun.

On October 24, 2011, Ford was confronted in the driveway of his home by Mary Walsh, a cast member of the CBC satirical show This Hour Has 22 Minutes, in costume as her character Marg Delahunty. Walsh has frequently conducted "ambush" interviews of Canadian politicians as this character, a housewife who dresses in an outfit inspired by Xena: Warrior Princess.[101] When Walsh and the CBC TV crew tried to interview Ford, Ford instead retreated into the house and called 911. Ford called again a few minutes after the first call. In his second call to 911, Ford used obscenities. CBC News reported that Ford had sworn at the dispatchers, which Ford denied, although he admitted that he had used obscenities. "After being attacked in my driveway, I hope I can be excused for saying the f-word. I never called anyone any names. I apologize for expressing my frustration inappropriately."[102][103][104] Walsh's segment was shown on television, along with a segment of her interviewing Ford's brother.

In 2012, along with his brother Doug, Ford held a public weight-loss challenge entitled Cut the Waist with an accompanying web site ''. The site encouraged others to lose weight and encouraged pledges to charity for every pound that the Ford brothers lost.[105] In February 2012, Ford, along with his brother Doug, began the The City with Mayor Rob Ford & Councillor Doug Ford two-hour radio talk program on Newstalk 1010 on Sundays. The Fords' show discusses current topics affecting the City of Toronto, with phone-in guests.[106]

In May 2012, when the Toronto Star was investigating a potential purchase of public lands bordering his home, Star reporter Daniel Dale and Ford had an incident. According to Ford, at 7:30 pm, a neighbour told him that someone was taking pictures of his home while standing on a cinder block on public property behind his house, while the property in question is on the side of his house. Ford confronted the reporter and yelled at him.[107] According to Dale, he was "cornered like a rat" by Ford, yelled for help, repeatedly asked Ford not to punch him, dropped his cell phone and digital recorder and ran, scared of Ford.[108] The next day, on Talk Radio 640, Ford stated that he would no longer meet with any City Hall reporters if Dale were present.[109] No charges were laid in the incident.[110]

In April 2013, Ford was hurt in the face after colliding with a television camera after exiting a meeting in a hurry.[111] The video clip of the collision and Ford's subsequent swearing was shown on the Jimmy Kimmel Live! television program and was also widely available on the internet. A cartoon depiction mocking the incident was used in an advertisement by internet job site Workopolis.[112]

Conflict of interest trial

In August 2010, Janet Leiper, the City of Toronto's integrity commissioner filed a report with City Council. It concerned then-Councillor Ford's fund-raising activities on behalf of his private foundation that aided high school football. In March 2010, Ford has sent out letters requesting donations for the Rob Ford Football Foundation. The back of each letter contained a gold seal, the City of Toronto logo and bore the stamp "Rob Ford Etobicoke North Councillor."[113] The integrity commissioner had ruled that Councillor Ford had not followed City Council's Code of Conduct and had abused his council position by using official letterhead and other council resources. Ford had accepted $3,150 on behalf of the foundation and the commissioner indicated that Ford should pay back the money.[114][115] In the report, the commissioner had noted that donors had included lobbyists, clients of lobbyists and a corporation which did business with the City of Toronto.[116] Ford indicated that he would challenge the report at Council, stating that he was being treated unfairly. He publicly asked "why the integrity commissioner doesn't investigate the $12,000 retirement party for Kyle Rae or the $6,000 French lessons for Adam Giambrone. Or better yet, why not that Tuggs deal, that 20-year lease behind closed doors. Why doesn't she investigate that?"[117]

On August 25, 2010, City Council debated the integrity commissioner's report. Ford participated in the report discussion and the vote after being warned by then-Council Speaker Sandra Bussin that he was in a potential conflict of interest.[116] Council agreed with the commissioner and voted 26–10 for Ford to return the money.[113] In the months following the meeting, Ford discussed the repayment with his donors. Several did not want repayment and Ford forwarded letters from several donors expressing their wishes to the integrity commissioner. By February 2012, Ford had not paid the amount and the matter was raised at a February 7, 2012 City Council meeting.

Ford spoke and voted at the February 7 meeting: "[A]nd if it wasn't for this foundation, these kids would not have a chance. And then to ask for me to pay it out of my own pocket personally, there is just, there is no sense to this. The money is gone, the money has been spent on football equipment ..."[116] City Council voted on a motion "[t]hat City Council rescind the previous decision made under Item CC52.1[118] and direct that no further action be taken on this matter", which carried by majority, 22 voting Yes, 12 No, with 11 absent.[114][119]

In March 2012, a complaint was filed by Paul Magder, a Torontonian, alleging that Ford's actions at the February 2012 Council meeting had violated the Ontario Municipal Conflict of Interest Act (MCIA).[120] The lawsuit came to trial in Ontario Superior Court on September 5, 2012. The case was argued on Magder's behalf by Toronto civil rights lawyer Clayton Ruby, who represented him pro bono.[121] Ruby argued that Ford had clearly violated the act by "having spoke to and voted on a matter in which he allegedly had a pecuniary interest ... contravening s. (5)1 of the MCIA and an order was sought under s. 10(1) of the MCIA declaring his seat on Toronto City Council vacant."[116][121] Ford's defense was that the MCIA did not apply to Toronto City Council's Code of Conduct; that the Council Resolution was ultra vires to Council's powers under the City of Toronto Act and therefore null; that the amount was insignificant, and that the contravention of the MCIA was committed through inadvertence or by reason of error in judgment.[116]

During the trial, Ruby argued Ford was "reckless" and "wilfully ignorant" of the law when he did not remove himself from the debate and vote. Ford testified he never read the MCIA or a City of Toronto councillor orientation handbook which included a section on conflicts of interest. Also, he did not attend City Council training sessions that covered conflicts of interest.[122] The mayoralty oath of office includes a pledge to "disclose conflicts of interest", and when asked by Ruby if he understood the words, Ford said: "No. My interpretation of a conflict of interest, again, is it takes two parties and the city must benefit or a member of council must benefit." Ruby argued that "as mayor he ought to have had a clear understanding of his obligations. This entire pattern of conduct shows that he chose to remain ignorant, and substituted his own view for that of the law." Ford disagreed, stating he only acted in the best interest of high school students.[122] The trial concluded on September 6 with no immediate judgment and the judge promised "to deliver the ruling in a timely fashion."[123]

Ontario Superior Court Judge Hackland's ruling was released on November 26, 2012. Hackland found that Ford had violated the MCIA and declared his seat vacant, the decision to take effect in 14 days.[114] In his decision, Hackland disagreed with all of Ford's legal arguments. In his disposition, Hackland stated: "Ford's actions were not done by reason of inadvertence or of a good faith error in judgment. I am, therefore, required by s. 10(1)(a) of the MCIA to declare the respondent's seat vacant. In view of the significant mitigating circumstances surrounding the respondent's actions ... I decline to impose any further disqualification from holding office beyond the current term."[116] Opinions differed on whether the ruling allowed Ford to run in a by-election should Council order one to fill the vacancy. According to the City Solicitor, the ruling disallowed Ford from holding office again until 2014, the next term of office.[124] However, on November 30, Judge Hackland clarified his order, and did not bar Ford from running in a by-election, should one be held before 2014.[125]

After the ruling, Ford announced that he would appeal the judgment, which he said was due to "left-wing politics". "I'm a fighter. Sometimes you win some, sometimes you lose some. I've done lots of great work for the city ... This comes down to left-wing politics. The left-wing wants me out of here and they will do anything in their power to and I'm going to fight tooth and nail to hold onto my job and if they do for some reason get me out, then I'll be running right back at 'em soon as the next election is, if there's a by-election I'll have my name the first one on the ballot."[126] Ford's counsel Alan Lenczner immediately announced that they would file an appeal in Ontario Divisional Court and ask for a stay on the ruling.[121] Ford was granted a stay of the decision on December 5, and remained mayor during his appeal.[127] The appeal was heard in court on January 7, 2013.[128][129]

On January 25, 2013 the appeal decision was released stating that Superior Court allowed it. The judges declared that the original judge had erred because the financial judgment was not under the City of Toronto Act or the Council Code of Conduct. Further, the sanction was beyond the authority of the City Council to enact.[130] After the ruling, Ruby promised to appeal the decision to the Canadian Supreme Court. The appeals court hold a later hearing into awarding costs. The appeals court disallowed Ford's claim for $116,000 in legal costs.[131]

Allegations of substance abuse

During his mayoral campaign, a 1999 arrest of Ford in Miami, Florida for driving under the influence (DUI) and marijuana possession became an election issue when the Toronto Star published details of the arrest. According to the statement recorded by the arresting officer, Ford was acting nervous, had bloodshot eyes and had "a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on his breath". Ford threw his hands up in the air and told the police officer, "Go ahead, take me to jail."[132][133] When questioned by reporters about the incident, Ford initially denied the DUI charge, saying instead he was arrested because he "refused to give a breath sample".[134] Ford later admitted the DUI conviction, but omitted the marijuana possession.[135] Ford later admitted to the marijuana possession, saying that the marijuana charge had "completely, totally slipped my mind" because the more serious issue during the arrest was the DUI charge.[136]

On April 15, 2006, Ford (a sitting councillor at the time) attended a Toronto Maple Leafs hockey game at the Air Canada Centre. Visibly intoxicated and belligerent, he began to insult a couple seated behind him, who were visiting from out of town. Two security guards escorted Ford out of the building. When confronted about the episode three days later by a National Post reporter, Ford initially denied having been at the game. He later told the Toronto Star: "This is unbelievable, I wasn't even at the game, so someone's trying to do a real hatchet job on me, let me tell you", but later on said: "I reflected on it last night, and talked to my family. I came forward and admitted it. That's all I can do. I mean, I'm not perfect," said Ford. "Being in politics, you're in the spotlight all the time. I made a mistake. I made a major mistake. I really regret it."[137]

In March 2013, former mayoralty candidate Sarah Thomson accused Ford of touching her inappropriately and making inappropriate comments while posing for a picture together at a political function.[138] Thomson, in a later interview on radio, suggested that Ford was on cocaine: “I thought he was, yes, but I don’t know,” she said. “I went back and looked up, you know, what are the signs of cocaine use. I looked it up and you know sweaty, talking quickly, out of it, arrogant — all these things were on there. What I read on Google, I would think he’s either on that or some other substance … he was definitely out of it.”[139] Ford responded on his radio show by saying that Thomson's story wasn't true and commented on Thomson: “In my personal opinion, I’ve always said I don’t know if she’s playing with a full deck from the first time I met her.”[139]

Later in March, the Toronto Star reported that Paul Ainslie, a member of the Toronto City Council executive committee, had asked Ford to leave a function two weeks prior to the Thomson event, due to Ford being intoxicated. The Toronto Star then published a front-page story accusing Ford of having a "drinking problem", which was an "open secret" at City Hall.[140] In both cases, Ford or his chief of staff Mark Towhey denied the allegations. Ford said the Star story was an outright lie; he said "Let’s just wait until the election, and then we’ll see what happens ... It’s just lies, after lies and lies".[141]

Further reading

  • The Unknown Torontonian (2011). The little book of Rob Ford. Toronto, ON: House of Anansi Press Inc.. ISBN 978-1-77089-007-7. 


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