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Rob Ford’s chief of staff quits—and there are plenty of rumours about why

(Image: screenshot from

Rob Ford is losing a key aide (no, Doug Ford is not making the leap to provincial politics—yet). Amir Remtulla, the mayor’s chief of staff, will leave city hall in less than two weeks to become vice-president of external partnerships for the Pan Am Games. Remtulla took over the job from Nick Kouvalis (also known as the mastermind behind Ford’s mayoral win) 18 months ago, and earned a rep for being a conciliatory professional who helped the mayor engineer his major labour victories. Naturally, city hall watchers are deep in speculation about why Remtulla is jumping ship and who might replace him. Here’s what they’re asking:

• Is working for Ford really awful?
CBC was all diplomacy in its reporting of Remtulla’s big move, suggesting that the chief of staff job—under any mayor—is always a tough gig with plenty of pressure. However, the article did note that this is the second high-profile departure from the mayor’s office (Adrienne Batra left her post as the mayor’s press secretary to work for the Toronto Sun in November). CBC’s objective tone still doesn’t disguise the insinuation that Ford can’t keep key staff.

• Is it all Doug Ford’s fault?
The Toronto Star reported plenty of juicy tidbits from unnamed sources, suggesting that Doug Ford consistently undermined Remtulla. Shadowy MPPs told the paper that Remtulla was managing to rein in the chaos surrounding Rob Ford (er…really?), but couldn’t handle Doug’s constant interference. A Liberal close to the premier said, “Sometimes, we’d leave at night thinking we had an agreement with (Rob) Ford and Amir only to learn the next day things had changed because Doug had gotten to him.”

• Will this mean the end of any cooperation at city hall?
Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong told the Toronto Sun that Remtulla served as a good bridge between the mayor and councillors (he did meet with Ford rival Karen Stinz about OneCity last week, after all). Similarly, centrist and budget-killer Josh Colle said he dealt with Remtulla often and called him “very professional and well-respected.” When Remtulla is gone, left-winger Shelley Carroll said any hope of good council relations will likely go with him: “My only way to deal with that office was someone like Amir.”

• Who will take the high-profile post?
Though the mayor said he hasn’t yet started the search for a replacement, a couple of names are already circulating: Mark Towhey, Ford’s “policy czar” (and self-confessed evil guy) and Andrew Pask, the mayor’s former council liaison. Pask left Ford’s team in 2011 after a dust up with Kouvalis—who, incidentally, says he’s not interested in getting his old job back.

Amid latest departure, Rob Ford says he’s proud of staff [CBC News]
Mayor Rob Ford’s chief of staff quits for Pan Am gig [Toronto Star]
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford loses top aide [Toronto Sun]

  • W. K. Lis

    What would the job description be written up as?

  • JoeTory

    “CBC’s objective tone”

    Any article criticizing Rob Ford is by definition biased against him. This is why I look to the Toronto Sun to get my news. CBCommies and The Tsar are just out to promote the interest of the middle class instead of focusing on serious issues of economic growth and labour flexibility.

  • Stinky Wizzleteats

    Lol, yes, I do believe the Toronto Sun is the most objective newspaper out there indeed. Yeah …. sure.

  • Go Big Or Go To EtobiCoke

    Key qualifications include:
    Either married to, or willing to marry, a mini-van.
    Driver’s abstract must include a fatal car-bicycle accident.
    Must love Ferris wheels.
    Possession of a magic shovel that lays golden eggs when inserted in ground.
    Watch NFL and/or lingerie football.
    Working knowledge of decal printing machines.
    Subways, subways, subways.

  • W. K. Lis

    In 2011, the Toronto Sun had a weekly circulation of 956,482. The Toronto Star had a weekly circulation of 1,932,385. The Globe & Mail had 1,906,336, while the National Post had 914,898.

    I think just relying on a 3rd place newspaper for “Joe Tory”‘s news will not get you a complete picture. You need to look at all different views to form an opinion. Research, verify, and then form a opinion. Don’t rely on one source for your news.

  • PiL

    The Sun,CFRB and Talk 640, kisses Rob’s arse.

  • Jack Rock

    If objectivity is what you are looking for ask the Sunshine girls .

  • Leo

    My files have come to the rescue. The clue was:Me: cats or dogs and so on with rifghtul human risk? I warn otherwise!(2,6,3,4,6,3,6,2,4,9)The answer is close to what Rob had. Does DA use computing assistance with such clues? If not, they are brilliant, but their brilliance does not translate into a commensurate difficulty, I find. Often if you close your eyes and squint at the words required and their numbers of letters, the answer springs out at you, especially if you have a handful of letters. Do other solvers agree?