After two months at GreeneStone, a rehab facility in Muskoka, Rob Ford made his return to city hall earlier this afternoon. At a 3:30 p.m. press conference, from which all but a select few journalists were barred, the mayor apologized (again) for his past behaviour, without specifying what it was that he was apologizing for. “When I look back on some of the things I have said and some of the things I did when I was using,” he said, “I am ashamed, embarrassed and humiliated.” He added that he had been blind to the dangers of “some of the company I kept,” and that “those associations have ended.” After apologizing a few more times to Toronto residents and city councillors and promising to receive continuing treatment for his substance problems, he rededicated himself to his reelection campaign. He took no questions.
The Globe reports that Democracy Watch, an Ottawa-based pro-transparency group, has filed yet another integrity complaint against Rob and Doug Ford. The organization alleges that the Ford brothers used their influence to lobby city staff on behalf of companies that do business with Deco Labels and Tags, their family firm. This is one of at least two formal complaints to result from a series of Globe stories about the Fords’ behind-the-scenes efforts to win favours for private companies.
—Approximate percentage of respondents to a Heritage Toronto survey who were opposed to a proposal that Union Station be renamed after John A. Macdonald, Canada’s first prime minister. City council’s executive committee will vote next week on whether to press ahead with the renaming anyway. City staff are recommending that a plaza in front of Union Station be named after Macdonald, instead.
“I ain’t got nothing to do with Rob Ford. He can’t match my record.”
—Washington D.C. councilmember Marion Barry, speaking to TMZ. In 1990, while mayor of the city, Barry was convicted of cocaine possession after the FBI and local police taped him smoking crack. So there you have it: even D.C.’s crack-smoking mayor wants nothing to do with Rob Ford (who can’t match his record, but will certainly try). This isn’t the first time Barry has been asked to comment on Toronto’s situation.
A poll conducted on June 23 by Forum Research finds that Rob Ford will still be a major contender in the mayoral election when he makes his return from rehab on Monday. Despite other polls over the past four months that have shown him steadily shedding vote share to Olivia Chow and John Tory, the mayor is back up at 27 per cent, second only to Chow at 34 per cent. This week’s other big winner is David Soknacki, who is now at six per cent (up from three), putting him in a tie with “don’t know.”
The Globe reports that Rob Ford may have more trouble waiting for him upon his return. Before the mayor left for rehab almost two months ago, the city’s integrity commissioner had already embarked on an investigation into his apparent attempts to use his influence to win special favours for a company that does business with his family’s label-making firm. The investigation was suspended at the start of Ford’s leave of absence, but now, because of a Globe story that detailed even more abuses, Ray Fredette, the Toronto resident who initially lodged the integrity complaint, is asking for the probe to be widened.
Mayoral candidate Sarah Thomson, whose dreadlocks grow more impressive by the day, released a third music video late last week. Here, for the sake of anyone looking for a gradual introduction to Toronto’s potential future overlord, is a rundown of her musical output, arranged from least to most terrible.
Today marks the first bizarre criminal accusation of the 2014 mayoral election, as Doug Ford says he has informed police about an alleged contact-list theft by Karen Stintz or someone working for her. According to CP24, Doug, who is managing his brother Rob Ford’s campaign, claims that people on the mayor’s private contact list were recently also contacted by Stintz’s campaign—which, in itself, proves nothing at all. “Someone, and I am not pointing fingers at anyone, but someone has received the information and has given or sold the information to the Karen Stintz campaign,” he told reporters.
Toronto Police have confirmed that they were informed about the matter, but haven’t said whether they plan on investigating, or whether they have already. Stintz has stopped just short of denying the allegation. “We have people supporting Karen who have supported other candidates in the past, and we accept lists that are given to us,” Lauren Souch, the Stintz campaign’s spokesperson, told the Post. Several Twitter users say they recieved unsolicited email from Stintz on Wednesday, so it seems to be true, at least, that she recently obtained some new addresses from somewhere.
Anyone who wants to see see a small-business owner panic should try this fun experiment: walk into a shop on any major downtown street and tell the person behind the counter that the two or three on-street parking spaces outside are about to be removed. The notion that a loss of parking will lead to a loss in business is often a sticking point in negotiations for things like new bike lanes. And so mayoral candidate David Soknacki is a very brave man for promising to impose an outright ban on street parking in the downtown core if he’s elected. A very brave man.
—The number of Ontarians who showed up at polling stations during last week’s provincial election specifically to vote “none of the above,” according to unofficial numbers from Elections Ontario. That’s by far the largest number of declined ballots in a single election since at least 1975. (The next highest was in 1990, when 20,795 ballots were declined.) One possible explanation for this year’s spike would be the media’s heavy coverage of the decline-your-ballot option leading up to the vote.
Soon-to-be-former Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak arguably lost last week’s provincial election because of his promise to cut 100,000 public-sector jobs, a scary proclamation that even some party loyalists admit wasn’t sold to the public particularly skillfully. At best, Hudak’s rhetoric was brutally truthful, and now, as intra-party discord begins to leak into the press, we know that it narrowly avoided entering just-plain-brutal territory.
According to the Star, the Tories’ campaign strategists considered and rejected the idea of actually naming some of the public employees that would have been fired under the PC plan. Hudak would have handed out mock “pink slips.” The Star says the campaign even considered holding a press conference in a room wallpapered with the names of Ontario Power Generation employees who earn more than $100,000—some of whom, presumably, would have had their jobs eliminated. To recap: members of Hudak’s inner circle thought that the way to win the election was to incite even more uproar over the single most controversial aspect of their platform, a move that probably would have intensified support among their base while further alienating everyone else. This, evidently, is how elections are lost.
“[Voters] were upset with the leader and in their mind we were moving to the right. It didn’t matter what I said.”
—Rosario Marchese, an NDP MPP who represented downtown Toronto for 24 years prior to being defeated in last week’s election by a Liberal upstart, expressing a view common among partisans: the party’s massive losses in Toronto were mostly the fault of Andrea Horwath, its leader. Two other Toronto NDPers (MPPs Jonah Schein and Michael Prue) also lost their seats during the bloodletting.
—The city’s net operating surplus for 2013, according to numbers released on Tuesday. Contrary to popular belief, Toronto routinely posts year-end surpluses, in part because of some very conservative budgeting practices (the city is legally forbidden from running a deficit). Last year was evidently no different, despite all of Rob Ford’s scandals. Thanks, bureaucrats.