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The woman behind the mayor: who is Renata Ford?

For a political wife, Renata Ford is an enigma—neither humanizing homemaker nor independent careerist. So who is she?

(Image: André Carrilho)

Renata Ford is the invisible wife. Most Torontonians caught their first glimpse of her on election night: a smiling, slender blonde, wearing a jacket constructed of leathery gold leaves and standing one step back from her triumphant husband. Immediately afterward, she disappeared from public view. Today Renata remains an enigma, the first mayoral spouse about whom almost nothing is known, including her age, background and occupation.

In Canada, the media generally regard political spouses as off limits. They are, after all, unelected and unpaid. Nowadays, as women out-earn their husbands, head up political parties and dominate graduate-school enrolment, there is less of an obligation or even an expectation for a political wife to play a public spousal role. David Miller’s wife, Jill Arthur, declined, but at least we knew she was a lawyer at the Ontario Court of Appeal.

So is the media discreet, or merely cowardly? You be the judge: a rumour has been circulating for months now about the infidelity of a high-level political wife in Ottawa, possibly involving a female RCMP officer. And yet not a whiff has made it into print (until now). It’s the kind of rumour tabloids and talk shows love in the U.S., Britain and France, and for good reason: a politician’s home life speaks to his character.

In Canada, deference to authority is embedded in our political DNA. We’ve never fought a war of independence, guillotined a king and queen or rammed a Magna Carta down the throat of a recalcitrant monarch. That doesn’t mean we aren’t curious about the personal lives of politicians. A literal bedfellow is a confidante, someone with a potential influence on public policy.

So what’s it like to be married to Rob Ford? A fiscal hawk might be great for taxpayers, but not so great if he’s your husband and (probably) the main breadwinner. I know that if I had two toddlers at home, I’d be less than thrilled if my husband spent hours every week coaching high school football, and occasionally brought home troubled team members for sleepovers. I’d ask, “Honey, where are your priorities?” The city has asked the same question. Surely the mayor of Toronto won’t have time for charity work. Ford’s reply: he’d give up coaching to tend to city business only if a suitable replacement could be found.

Imagine being married to someone who claims to have personally returned more than 200,000 calls in the past decade. A YouTube video of a campaign appearance shows Renata sitting at her husband’s side, nodding like a bobble-head doll, while he waves a fridge magnet with his telephone number on it and tells the audience, “I return phone calls personally.”

As this city’s mayor, will Ford ever stop being receptionist-in-chief? After I left several messages, I received one of his famous 54.8 returned calls per day (although exactly why he bothered is a mystery).

Ford: “Hi, this is Rob Ford.”

Me: “Wow. So you really do return calls.” I quickly repeated my voice mail—that I was a journalist, writing about him and Renata.

Ford: “All media has to go through Adrienne Batra.”

Me: “Well, can you at least tell me how old Renata is?”

Ford: “Sorry, you have to go through Adrienne.”

Me: “Can you tell me when you were married?”

Ford: “Sorry.”

Me: “Well, is your person going to set something up?”

Ford: “You have to go through her.”

Batra, his press secretary, and various assistants all declined my repeated requests for an interview with the Fords and refused to answer any questions.

  • Mike

    The nation has no business in the bedrooms of the state.

  • Moderate

    Mayor Ford is the elected official and there is plenty to scrutinize. She has not put herself in the public sphere, so she is off limits. Move along TL.

  • David

    If Mrs. Ford chooses to speak to the media, she will speak. After all, it’s not as if she doesn’t know how or where to find them. Until then, if she’s content in her husband’s very large shadow, then good for her.

    Also, the reference to the rumours around the politician’s wife and the RCMP officer: tacky. I don’t like the people at the centre of this rumour and would be delighted to see them skewered–but the reason this hasn’t appeared in print is that, despite the efforts of seemingly hundreds of media personnel to unearth otherwise, the rumour is apparently trashy erotic fiction and sadly nothing more.

  • stella

    No kidding she won’t speak I would be embarrassed to be married to a selfish person like him. With new cuts to services to the disabled and the blind no wonder she would hide or him for that matter avoid the press. I could care less who he is married to as I won’t be voting him in again he is an arrogant self absorbed moron who should try and live on an ODSP or welfare diet and see how much weight he will lose.

  • realerman

    someone married that slob??!!
    poor dumb woman!!

  • lonewolf

    What’s with the obsession over age? I personally could care less how old a politician is. It’ll suffice to mention a general number,ie.30′s. As for political spouses,unless they choose to be in the public eye outside of staged moments,they should be allowed to live in privacy. Acts of indiscretion caught by the “public” are fair game. Contrast high profile off springs,President Bush’s twins had their moments,yet Chelsea Clinton stayed below the radar.

  • Kandeezie

    “a politician’s home life speaks to his character” Really? Maybe we’re more progressive in that we see wives aren’t the mushroom growing out the side of the tree, but a tree herself. Her business doesn’t reflect his or his ability to do his job. Woah with the patriarchy.

  • Rolf

    Good for Renata for keeping her private life private!

  • dumbstuff

    leave her alone, if she campaigned she would be fair game but she left this to him she wasn’t paraded around nor were her child(ren)

  • Brorack Brobama

    We don’t know anything about her that we didn’t at the beginning of the article. This is a complete non-story. Not to mention you are trying to make a story where there is nothing there, and being a little disrespectful of personal privacy. Some people can’t take a hint!

  • Cyberonimo

    No one is above the law, unless of course you are God and Ford you are not one! If this happened & if you were an Indian you would have been arrested & a no-contact would have been imposed until a court date but it seems if you are rich & famous & a BULLY then you can get away with anything! Renata take the children & run!! This BULLY can’t control you.

  • Nils Lofgrin

    Jan Wong is back at work, spreading her idiocy and crushing souls wherever she treads. In a just world, some half-bright kid out of the J program at Humber College would follow and harass Wong, peering into her home and hassling her neighbors, while blithely insulting her appearance (aged, unlovely), temperament (objectionable, calculating), and professional abilities (a sick, fucking joke.) Aside to Brorack Brobama: Calling Jan Wong disrespectful is like accusing a snake of being scaly and slime-covered. Precisely like that.

  • T. D. Votes

    Mrs. Ford is too scared to talk.

  • Daisee

    Sounds like the entire Ford family, in-laws included, are more than dysfunctional, they’ve crossed the rubicon. Rigidity, silence, blame & avoidance, chemical dependency, emotional abuse etc all useless coping mechanisms that can lead to some horrific outcomes. There is a pattern here and I feel for Mrs. Ford and her children, how will they ever find normalcy if they don’t know what normal is. Relative I know, but still……so sorry for them all.

  • Moran b eeghuzzar-rykala

    Rob ford = Walter White without brains/ability

  • No Fan

    If I was “married” to that BULLY I would have a mental meltdown too :(

  • Gingy

    If I was married to that no one would see me either….he’s probably just blocking the view or maybe she is hiding in shame.

  • Gingy

    Blasphemy! Ford is nowhere even close to being anything Heisenberg

  • Clementine4

    MAybe she is also embarassed because of the 911 calls when her lovely porcine husband beat her. Maybe she is a timid wife for hire?? I only feel for their poor kids.

  • sunbeamcatcher

    You know, Renata’s parents are survivors of Auschwitz. Polish Jews. Will that help you to understand the “dysfunctions” as you call it?

  • sunbeamcatcher

    Yup – her parents survived Auschwitz, she grew up with their memories. Now, will you get off her back?

  • Dave

    …because David Miller’s wife, and Barbara Hall’s husband were just that much more known to Torontonians than Renata Ford? Who cares?!?

  • Sherene

    If I was a politician’s wife, I wouldn’t talk to the media either. Some people just like to maintain their privacy.

  • Polishgirl

    @sunbeamcatcher: having gone to grade school and highschool with Mrs. Ford, I can assure you that she is not Jewish by any means. My parents are also Holocaust survivors, and I believe they’ve all raised pretty normal kids. Know your facts before you spew inaccuracy!

  • Guest

    this story should run again.. its very interesting..

  • Shaunanew

    very interesting story.

  • chipi

    You have all failed to realize; she was not the one elected into politics; and to Mayor Rob Ford; you are definitely in the line of fire…anyone else on council care to stand in his spot and receive the same treatment… who are we to judge his personal life as long as it is not affecting his role as mayor… FIGHT FOR YOUR RIGHTS!–last time I checked, NO ONE IS PERFECT! He has apologized–accept it and move on!

  • Alma Belhumeur

    I have much compassion and empathy for this woman. I believe she is abused mentally physically and emotionally. she looks so out of touch with her surroundings.
    Reading the article about their home tells me that she is not happy. I would love to be the fly on the wall just to see if my thoughts about this whole situation are right.

  • Lixii

    Maybe he was just interviewing the hooker to see if she could offer some advice to his wife on how to take the beating like a whore?

  • Lixii

    I heard she’s a shrew, not a jew.

  • Lixii

    Why should we get off her back when he’s got he ron her hands and knees, treating her like a dog, with her fist in her mouth? Quit waving this Jew card you’re trying to apply to her.

  • Mamikakaza

    Oh, ppleeasee… She is soooo ugly!!!!!!!!!!!! Pheewwww……:-(((

  • ExcessOfConstraint

    “who are we to judge his personal life as long as it is not affecting his role as mayor…”

    Well, his personal life is obviously and definitely very much affecting his role as mayor, so no, apology not accepted, we’re not moving on.

  • Eileen May

    NOT TRUE!!!

  • Eileen May

    No, Dougie just invented that to shut you up

  • Eileen May

    He does parade the kids. He arrived with them in tow (he was in a drunken stupor ) at the Garrison Ball. Staff took them home.

  • Eileen May

    How do you know she is not also a drunk, drug addict, and the one behind the cuts to services?

  • Eileen May

    Nonsense. How do you know she is not also an alcoholic, crack smoker. Know any local cops?

  • Eileen May

    I think that’s the POINT of the article, that it’s unusual for anyone in politics to be seen out in public without the wife/with another woman/ and also for the wife not to be at least seen once in a while at public events.
    Running for office/having a radio/tv show is NOT the way to ensure your privacy.

  • Myworkisdonehere

    Racist much, Nils?

  • Myworkisdonehere

    Too drunk to meet the Prime Minister at public event? If that’s not affecting his role as mayor then I guess neither is the fact he is an uneducated, obnoxious, drunken boor.

  • Moran b eeghuzzar

    Or just standing behind him & couldn’t be seen.

  • Moran b eeghuzzar

    But at least Renata feeds Robfo a lot!

  • X_Mayor

    she’s not old enough.

  • X_Mayor

    The time the police responded to a 911 call, they said she was incoherent.

  • Celine Miller


  • canadian123123

    The house sounds dismal and unkempt and her parents show up each day to look after the kids.Sounds bizarre but everything about them is bizarre

  • april

    It must be hard too not approach this woman for an interview but really why She is going through hell I imagine and with two kids and a idiots to have to deal with I dont think she has time or the emotional strength to do a interview .. Leave her alone and set your sights are the real target Robbie and Dougie boy … She and her kids should be off limits . I see a book or movie of the week in her future so all will be known then. what purpose would it really servie asking her what she feels about her husband the answer is on her face when you see her with him.