While it’s somewhat understandable that Doug and Rob Ford would be unhappy with the Toronto Police Service’s ongoing investigation into the mayor’s activities, this week’s escalating hostilities between the brothers and police chief Bill Blair are completely baffling. Demonizing enemies is chapter one in the Ford-family crisis-management playbook, but fighting with Blair gives the appearance of an effort to undermine the rule of law, which is something most politicians would avoid.
How bad is it? This is a direct quote from a press conference Rob Ford held earlier this afternoon:
If he’s going to arrest me, arrest me. I have done nothing wrong. And he’s wasted millions of dollars. I want him to come clean and say, how much money did it cost the taxpayers? For surveillance on me and planes that he had to rent. That is absolutely game-playing, it’s politics. And I am not apologizing.
Here’s how things got to this point.
1. The press conference
The beginning of open hostilities between Blair and the Fords was October 31st, when, at a news conference convened just for the purpose, the chief made an explosive declaration. Police have the crack video, he told reporters, and it’s all it’s cracked up to be. At the same press conference, when questioned about whether the video had shocked him, Blair said, “I’m disappointed.”
2. Doug Ford fires back
On November 5th, in a series of media appearances, Doug Ford went on the attack. “This is the most political police chief this city’s ever seen,” Ford told Breakfast Television’s Kevin Frankish. “He went out believing he was the judge, jury and executioner, he’s created a bias towards the mayor, he’s also compromised himself and jeopardized the case.” On the same day, Ford said he’d be filing a complaint about Blair with the Office of the Independent Police Review Director.
3. Rob Ford invents an ulterior motive
In a December 9th interview with Conrad Black on VisionTV, Rob Ford claimed that the ongoing police investigation into his activities was politically motivated. “I want to save money, and I guess [Blair] disagrees with that,” Ford told Black.
4. The Steak Queen video
On January 21st, the press discovered a cellphone video of an extremely inebriated Rob Ford delivering a slurred, Jamaican-accented rant about Blair to fellow customers at Etobicoke’s Steak Queen restaurant. In the video, Ford calls Blair a “cocksucker,” among other things.
5. The official complaint
Earlier this week, it emerged that Doug Ford had actually made good on his threat to lodge an official complaint about Blair, and that the Office of the Independent Police Review Director was investigating. Although the substance of the investigation was initially unclear (Ford had told some reporters, apparently incorrectly, that his complaint had to do with a fishing trip Blair took with a police board member) we now know that Blair is being probed specifically as a result of his “I’m disappointed” comment in November, because of Doug’s belief that the chief’s disapproval could prejudice the justice system against the mayor.
6. Blair responds
During an interview on Wednesday, the Star asked Blair about his reaction to the mayor’s “cocksucker” comment in the Steak Queen video. “It’s a filthy obscenity. It was a disgraceful thing to do. And I found it disgusting,” Blair said.
7. Doug Ford, again
This morning on AM640’s John Oakley Show, Doug Ford lashed out at Blair once again, this time suggesting that the chief’s criticism of the mayor was part of an effort to ensure John Tory’s victory in the 2014 mayoral campaign. “[Blair] might as well just stick a John Tory button on his chest and go around there and start campaigning, in my opinion,” Ford said.
Which brings us to the present. Blair is usually reluctant to wade into controversy, and so his willingness to comment on the Fords is a little odd. The police investigation into the mayor’s activities is still active, so we can only wonder what the chief isn’t saying at this point in time.