—Long-shot mayoral candidate Matthew Crack, when asked by the Star whether his last name was a factor in his decision to run in this year’s election. “Name recognition is half the battle when you run for politics right now,” he added.
The video above is 30 minutes’ worth of footage of Rob Ford, mayor of Toronto, riding in a cat-themed Ferrari with Deadmau5, EDM musician, to get some coffee from a Tim Hortons drive-through. It’s every bit as weird and awkward as that short description would suggest.
There are plenty of people we’d rather have seen Ford locked in a moving vehicle with (like, any member of the city hall press gallery, for instance), but this thing does have its merits. It’s a rare look at what Ford is like when he’s not in campaign mode—when he’s just trying to relax and act like a cool dude. Some standout moments to watch for:
A new Rob Ford campaign video, released on the mayor’s website at some point in the past 24 hours, is earning media notice for a lot more than its handsome photography and soothing soundtrack. The video, which highlights the mayor’s obsessive, sometimes-inappropriate dedication to personally helping individual residents with small problems, appears to have been shot partially in his office at city hall. The candid shots make him look like a real go-getter, but they may also be a violation of the rules. City policy forbids people who are running for office from using city property to promote their candidacies. In the past, when the mayor has committed policy violations (or alleged violations) like this, he hasn’t faced much in the way of consequences.
The Toronto Police Services Board has just announced that it won’t be renewing police chief (and Toronto Life cover model) Bill Blair’s contract, meaning the veteran cop’s last day on the job will be April 25, 2015. Blair’s nine years in the Toronto Police Service’s top spot have not been without controversy. He oversaw the TPS’s response to the 2010 G20 summit, dealt with fallout from revelations about apparent racial profiling by the force and also, perhaps most notably, signed off on an elaborate investigation into Rob Ford’s off-the-books activities. It’s unclear, at this point, whether Blair actually sought a contract extension, or whether the split is mutual.
UPDATE: The Post is now reporting that Blair sought a contract extension, but was denied.
The Ford family has held north Etobicoke’s city council seat since 2000, when Rob Ford won his first election. This year’s campaign will be a little different, though: Doug Ford, the seat’s current occupant, won’t be running for re-election (instead, he’s focusing his efforts on the mayoral race as his brother’s campaign manager), and the Fords are trying to continue their family dynasty by foisting their 20-year-old nephew Michael on area voters instead. Twelve candidates are trying to stop young Mikey from fulfilling his destiny, including Andray Domise. He might just be the guy to do it. A financial planner born in Toronto to Jamaican parents, he registered as a candidate in April, and has since declared his decidedly un-Fordian views loudly and fearlessly (his Twitter, in particular, is unmissable). We caught up with Domise at Auntie Bell’s in Rexdale—his preferred interviewing venue—to talk about the Fords, racism and spending money on toilets.
Each year, Rob Ford hosts Ford Fest, a giant public barbecue that he swears, for legal reasons, is not technically a campaign event. Campaign-related or not, though, on Friday the event drew thousands of likely voters and other assorted die-hard Ford supporters (these days, the mayor barely has any other kind of supporter) to Thomson Memorial Park in Scarborough, where they waited on hours-long lines: one giant one for free hamburgers, and another (slightly shorter) one to shake the mayor’s hand.
It can be hard for anyone outside the Ford Nation bubble to understand the mayor’s enduring appeal. Scandal after scandal, he continues to poll respectably well alongside candidates with none of his personal and political liabilities. In an attempt to figure out Ford’s unshakeable grip, particularly on young suburban voters, Toronto Life waded into the Ford Fest crowds, past the bigoted violence and the illegal horse-riding, to ask a bunch of seemingly normal attendees a simple question: why do you still support Rob Ford?
Click through the photo gallery to read their answers.
Almost a year to the day after the shooting death of 18-year-old Sammy Yatim, a long-awaited report on police encounters with mentally disturbed people is finally available for public consumption. The 400-page document was prepared at the request of police chief Bill Blair by former Supreme Court justice Frank Iacobucci in the aftermath of the tragedy. While it doesn’t deal specifically with Yatim, it does contain 84 recommendations intended to make the Toronto Police Service better at dealing with people like him, who seem to be suffering from some kind of extreme mental or emotional distress when they come into contact with cops. (Yatim, remember, is believed to have been intimidating fellow streetcar passengers with a knife before police got involved.)
There are a number of seemingly useful ideas among the recommendations, including a proposal to arm some front-line police officers with tasers on a trial basis, to give them a new alternative to lethal force. (It’s an idea that has been floated several times already.) The report also calls for the creation of a mental-health oversight committee that would consist of police officials and representatives from healthcare organizations and psychiatric facilities. Ultimately, though, the greatest idea to come out of the whole exercise is probably best summed up by Iacobucci’s statement at today’s press conference, quoted in the Star: “The premise of the report is the target should be zero deaths when police interact with a member of the public,” he said. “No fatalities” would be a fairly low bar to success for most organizations, but in the case of TPS, we’ll take it.
On May 27, the John Tory campaign summoned the media to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. After weeks of promising to build a “Yonge Street relief line,” Tory was set to announce his SmartTrack transit plan, a proposal to retrofit existing GO lines into subway-like commuter corridors. It’s since become the centrepiece of his campaign.
Tory’s address to reporters was preceded by a technical briefing, in which campaign officials laid out the logistics of the proposal. Before delving into specifics, though, the campaign official leading the briefing made an uncharacteristically frank—even embarrassing—admission about Tory’s commitment to another transit project: the controversial Scarborough subway, which Tory had promised, if elected, to “start digging” in 2015. This is what the official said: “We are, of course, duly chastened in regard to when that [project] can begin. It cannot have the shovels in the ground tomorrow morning, as we had previously advertised. And we’re very sorry; and we won’t make that mistake again.”
The 2015 prediction had always seemed far-fetched, but now this person was saying, definitively, that it was wrong. It was a newsworthy quote, but it wouldn’t make news. The reason the official was free to phrase the admission in such unflattering terms is that he expected that his words would never be printed, because he was speaking on background.
With about three months to go until election day, a new poll by Forum Research suggests that the mayoral race no longer has a clear frontrunner. Because of some apparent erosion in voter support for Olivia Chow, she, John Tory and Rob Ford all pulled roughly equal numbers in the July 21 phone survey, which canvassed 1063 Toronto residents.
Michael Ford, the 20-year-old nephew of Rob and Doug Ford (he’s their sister Kathy’s son) is officially running for city council in Ward 2, a seat occupied by one or another of his uncles for the past 14 years. The expectation, for most serious council contenders, is that they’ll speak to the media to promote and defend their candidacies, but apparently that won’t be the case for this special little guy. Speaking to reporters earlier today, Doug, who isn’t running for reelection in Ward 2, said that he’ll be discouraging Michael from speaking to the media during the campaign, because journalists are too biased. Presumably, the idea is that Mikey’s last name will be enough to bolster him at the polls.
After months of rumours, Michael Ford, the son of Rob Ford’s sister Kathy, has officially added his name to the ballot in Ward 2. If he wins in October’s municipal election, he’ll inherit the city council seat currently occupied by Doug Ford, his uncle. Young Mikey is only 20 years old, and at last check was splitting his time between the family label company, his uncle’s mayoral campaign and Humber College, where he attended business school.