pinching councillor to crack mayor
TORONTO Rob Ford is daring us to rifle through the skeletons in his closet.
It is April 2010. Ford is the controversial councillor for Etobicoke North whose politically incorrect outbursts have made him enemies in Toronto’s gay, Asian and even cycling communities. Called everything from a buffoon to a barbarian, he is relishing the apoplectic shock reverberating through the city’s downtown and left wing elites at the mere possibility of his having a shot at the city’s top prize.
After an exhaustive tour of rolex watches for sale his family’s Etobicoke printing company where he is CFO, the man who rolex watches for sale would be mayor sits down in the boardroom of Deco Labels and Tags for a rare feature interview.
Ford is overweight, but at 285 pounds, still far from the hefty size he will carry later in the mayor’s office. He’s surprisingly shy and socially awkward. The sweat that beads on his broad forehead belies his nervousness. He is the very antithesis of the poised and polished politician.
And that seems to be his secret.
Toronto is weary of the slick David Millers and their champagne spending and their broken city beholden to the unions. He is Toronto’s Everyman, the spendthrift who goes to Timmy’s, not Starbucks, drinks Molsons, not martinis, who’s more at home at the hockey game than the theatre.
He answers his own phone! He coaches at risk youth! He will watch our pennies at City Hall!
Asked about Ford’s surging poll numbers, veteran politician and strategist John Tory explains that the renegade councillor is tapping into the fury of the over taxed electorate. But he also warns it’s very early in the game and his surprising popularity will bring new scrutiny: Is Ford really fit to run a multibillion dollar corporation?
Told of Tory’s words, Ford says bring it on.
“There’s nothing left,” he laughs during that QMI Agency interview. “Everybody knows everything out there. My closet’s empty. What you see is what you get.”
How ironic those words resonate, almost four years on.
We should have known better, of course. All the warning signs were there for all but the blind Ford Nation to see: reports of substance abuse, an incendiary temper, a reflexive tendency to lie.
Ford’s modus operandi was already well known by then: a stubborn pattern of deny, deny, deny only to finally own up to his indiscretions when proof was irrefutable, followed by a half hearted “sorry” and a pledge to never do it again: a 1999 Florida drunk driving charge, his banishment from a 2006 Leafs game for drunkenly berating other spectators, flipping the bird at a driver and later his conflict of interest conviction, which would later be overturned on appeal all met with defiant denial only to be followed by a begrudging apology and insistence that the past was the past. And let’s move on.
Even then, no one could have actually mistaken Ford for harbouring any intellectual depth he admitted dropping out of Carleton University but fudged on exactly when that was; nor expected that he would be well versed on issues when he had a spotty attendance record at City Hall and a well known impatience for lengthy documents, including the municipal code of conduct.
But Ford never did hold himself out to be a Rhodes Scholar. He sailed forth on a simple, populist platform to “stop the gravy train” and take care of taxpayers’ money. And that was enough for a while. His initial accomplishments were something to boast about killing Toronto’s $60 vehicle rolex watches for sale registration tax, slashing councillors’ budgets, privatizing garbage collection west of Yonge St., a labour contract with CUPE Local 416 that finally served taxpayers’ interests.
Then Ford stalled when his reckless personality and lackadaisical leadership inevitably got in the way. He kept sacking himself with countless fumbles of spectacularly poor judgment: refusing to appear at Pride, photographed reading while driving, giving the finger to another motorist, calling the cops on a CBC comedian. More importantly, refusing to play nice to push his agenda.
Shameless, self destructive with a hefty persecution complex, the mayor wore his obstinacy with pride and liked to cast himself as the lone wolf who would not compromise even if he was the one most injured as a result.
Of course, he was destined to land himself in trouble. We just never imagined how much.
Ford’s political ambitions were lofty, even back then: “I want to be prime minister,” he told us in 2010.
The youngest of four children, Ford had always lived in the shadow of the father he worshipped. According to oft told family lore, Doug Sr. was raised in public housing by a single mom of nine children, widowed by a husband who died during the Second World War. From his hard scrabble background, the successful businessman founded a multimillion dollar printing business. A larger than life kind of man who reminded his employees of Harold Ballard with his thick fur coats and Lincoln Town car, they also praised his heart of gold. He went on to serve one term as a Conservative backbencher in the Mike Harris government and died in 2006 after an ugly six month battle with colon cancer.
“He was my idol. He made millions in this company but money didn’t drive him. He wanted to give back,” his proud son explained in 2010, his eyes filling with tears as he gazed as his dad’s portrait on the boardroom wall.
“I took a business approach to politics. My father instilled that: you never let a customer down, you return every call personally and you go out to see them,” he said. “They’re the boss. When they say ‘Jump’, you ask ‘How high?’ It’s fundamental. It’s just cour rolex watches for sale tesy and common sense.”
Unlike his dad, though, Ford was raised in a leafy part of North Etobicoke with all the comfortable advantages that a privileged upper middle class life could bring. He was a rich kid with cash to buy whatever he wanted including drugs and a sense of entitlement bred in his bones.
He also had a fatal affinity with those who lived on the wrong side of the tracks.
Before he died, Doug Sr. warned his youngest son that he was too much of a loose cannon. “My dad said, ‘You’ve got to chill out, you’re doing dumb things. You won’t be mayor until you straighten out’.”