Rob Ford’s wild ride

Inside the greatest political train wreck of our time

Photo illustration by Stephen Gregory

The term “Purple Jesus” never appears, but police surveillance reports offer compelling evidence as to Rob Ford’s go-to beverage in times of emergency. Officers had watched one evening last August as Toronto’s large, imperfect mayor stole down the footpath of a leafy park just a stone’s throw from his mom’s home in the western Toronto suburb of Etobicoke. There, away from prying eyes and apparently unburdened by mayoral duties, Rob Ford whiled away the better part of an hour, and officers who whisked to the scene afterward didn’t have to look hard for clues as to what he’d been up to: one spent bottle of Iceberg Vodka lay on the ground. With it was an empty container of Tropicana grape juice.

It was the sort of furtive scene familiar to more typical fans of the easy-to-swallow “P.J.”—teens getting loaded for high school dances. And it came complete with a shadowy actor in the role of bootlegger: Ford had been met on the footpath by Alexander “Sandro” Lisi, officers reported, his companion and occasional driver whom members of Ford’s staff suspected of supplying the mayor with drugs and alcohol. Aware that he might be followed, the surveillance team reported, Lisi had left the Range Rover he drove on the far side of the park and approached from the path’s opposite end.

But the scene is also a telling snapshot of the shrunken, secretive life Ford has been leading in the wake of the drug video scandal, which culminated this week with the mayor’s bombshell admission that he’d used crack cocaine. By mid-summer, Ford had retreated to the landscape he had inhabited in his youth, behaving in ways that would be easier to understand if he were still too young to order a beer. The park where he hid that day would have been familiar—it’s named after his dad, Douglas Ford Sr. Two weeks earlier, on a Sunday, he had bought some McDonald’s food from a drive-through and met Lisi at a high school parking lot less than a kilometre from his mother’s house. Officers watched as the two munched hamburgers in Ford’s Cadillac Escalade and, apparently, drank. After the pair drove off, police recovered two empty vodka bottles from the McDonald’s bags Ford threw in a nearby trash bin.

A vodka bottle left in Douglas Ford Park by Rob Ford and Alexander Lisi, according to police surveillance. (Toronto Police Services)

Then, on Wednesday, Aug. 21, Ford, Lisi and another man ate dinner at a down-market eatery called Steak Queen a few kilometres to the north. “All three appeared to be under the influence of alcohol and/or drug[s] but not to the state of impairment,” reported a plainclothes officer who watched them from inside the restaurant. “Mayor Ford appeared dishevelled with a large sweat stain circling his stomach, sweating profusely from his forehead, his eyes were squinting as he walked, his suit jacket was wrinkled and he wore it without a tie. He was observed leaving with what appeared to be three Styrofoam food containers in bags.” By this point in the 465-page report, which was released by a judge last week, Ford’s circle of acquaintances reads more like a court docket than the contact list of a big-city mayor: There’s a dry cleaner charged last month with pot trafficking; a man with numerous convictions for theft and fraud; another whose rap sheet includes theft, assault and weapons offences. And, of course, there’s Lisi, who has convictions for assault, harassment and uttering death threats, and who was charged last week with extortion in relation to the infamous video in which Ford was seen smoking what appears to be crack.

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The timing of all this bears repeating: it took place after news of the video broke last May, which is to suggest that nothing about the crisis caused him to reconsider the life he was leading. And if you thought the Oct. 31 announcement by Chief Bill Blair that police had recovered the offending footage would bring the whole surreal show to a halt, you were wrong. On Sunday, Ford stuck with on his strategy of bulldozing through the wreckage, admitting to radio listeners that he’d “made mistakes” yet refusing to resign. Then, on Tuesday, he blew everyone’s doors off: “Yes, I have smoked crack cocaine,” he blurted to reporters in an impromptu scrum outside his office. “Am I addicted? No. Have I tried it? Probably in one of my drunken stupors, approximately a year ago.”

Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair at a MADD press conference on the day when Councillor Doug Ford asked for the Chief's resignation. (Getty Images)

The admission all but rattled City Hall to the ground. Councillors scolded the mayor for lying in May when he said the video “does not exist.” Some urged him to seek help for substance abuse, noting Ford’s acknowledgement over the weekend that he needed to “make changes” to shore up the tire fire he calls his life. But whatever steps he imagined clearly did not involve setting down the Chain of Office. At a tearful news conference late Tuesday, he promised residents he would “never, ever, ever again” embarrass them thus, adding: “I love my job. I love this city. For the sake of the taxpayers of this great city, we must get back to work immediately.”

How, you might wonder, could he believe that’s possible? More to the point, how could Torontonians allow him to believe it—because that’s precisely what they’ve been doing. Even as Ford and his family hunkered down on Friday, Nov. 1 at the house of his mother, Diane, a newly published poll suggested the mayor’s approval rating had actually ticked up in the 24 hours after Chief Blair’s announcement. It now stood at 44 per cent, fully five points higher than the previous week. If a mayoral election had been held that day, Rob Ford would probably have won.

This startling response has lent weight to the theory that Toronto faces a political dynamic similar to the one that propelled Sarah Palin to stardom in the United States—a civic microclimate where crassness is rewarded and perverse logic rules. Far from being scared off by the mayor’s apparent excesses, countless Ford supporters have voiced hope over the last few days that he will stay in office. Many speak darkly of a media conspiracy against him, while others say reporters and police should stay out of the man’s personal life. “Given all that he’s accomplished and everything he’s done,” one man shrugged to CBC Radio in an astonishing, yet typical, response, “maybe all politicians should smoke crack.”

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford yells at reporters and photographers to get off of his property in front of his house in Toronto on October 31, 2013. (Mark Blinch/Reuters)

Their sympathy has held despite a steady flow of council colleagues, business leaders and newspaper editorialists who have called on Ford to step aside. Among them: the mayor’s former council allies Peter Milczyn, Denzil Minnan-Wong and Michael Thompson, as well as Carol Wilding, the head of Toronto’s Board of Trade, who urged Ford to “put Toronto first” and take a therapeutic leave. Yet these mild appeals served only to harden pro-Ford sentiment on Twitter, and on the streets of a city where no other news seemed to matter. The more fire the mayor drew, the harder his supporters fired back.

Evidently the mayor heard them. On the morning of Friday, Nov. 1, with TV helicopters thumping overhead, he and family members hatched the idea of the partial apology, accompanied by Rob’s promise to change, figuring that would be enough to reassure his faithful base of voters. The statement would not have passed muster in the press office of any conventional politician. It did not, for starters, explain how Ford planned to transform his life while fulfilling his mayoral duties. It did not even specify what he was sorry for. (Later, during a surprise appearance on a competing talk radio station, Ford told a caller he “shouldn’t have got hammered” last August during Taste of the Danforth, an annual celebration of the city’s Greek district where an inebriated Ford was photographed reeling among the crowds; in light of his admission Tuesday, it seems the least of his misdemeanours.)

But none of that mattered. The apology won raves from Ford’s backers. Cowed by the outpouring of support, Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly announced he was satisfied with the apology and prepared to “move forward.”

There will be dissertations on how Ford pulled off this miraculous escape. But for now, it is enough to know that shrewd political minds believe he could very well win Toronto’s next municipal election, which is less than a year away. One of them is Mark Towhey, the chief of staff Ford fired when news of the video first broke. Speaking to Maclean’s on Friday, Nov. 1, before Ford offered his mea culpa, Towhey predicted that the mayor’s bedrock support—about 30 per cent of voters—would hold, barring some egregious revelation down the line. “Maybe half of that, 15 per cent, will never leave Rob Ford,” he says. “He needs to decide what’s good for him and his family, but there is a path for him to get elected. I don’t know if he can, but I know that he has defied political expectation up to this point. I wouldn’t put it past him.”

There’s a story Towhey likes to tell about Rob Ford’s relationship with voters. He’d been working as the mayor’s chief for several months, and was frustrated by his inability to divert Ford’s attention from the dozens of phone messages that pour into the mayor’s office each day. “All he wants to know is whether a phone call got returned,” recalls Towhey, “and I’m saying, ‘Rob, we’ve got more important things.’ ” But Towhey had hardly finished his sentence when Ford blew his stack. “This is a woman who has no water in her house!” he shouted. “There’s nothing more important! Nothing!”

Towhey has pondered that response in light of Ford’s political survival over the past few months, and he’s decided his former boss was right. “That’s the voters’ view of the city. They don’t care if there’s a casino downtown. They care if there’s water coming out of the tap, and that’s stuff Rob talks about. The questions he asks are the ones most people out there would ask if they didn’t feel it was too stupid to ask them.”

Trite as it might sound, that personal touch lies at the heart of what spin doctors call Ford’s “brand.” But it’s a brand that doesn’t work in every place, every time. And it certainly doesn’t work for every politician. Toronto, say experts who have examined Ford’s vote closely, has undergone a socio-economic transformation over the last four decades that was never fully expressed in its politics. Only in the last three years did it find voice in an inarticulate behemoth with a gravy stain on his tie, and a sizable chip on his shoulder.

It begins with Toronto the Good, a city comprised of an affluent downtown core surrounded by comfortable suburbs. In 1970, two-thirds of census tracts in what is now the amalgamated city could be described as middle-income, meaning the average household income in them was no more than 20 per cent above or below that of the city; only 19 per cent were low income. By 2005, however, the numbers had nearly reversed: the middle-income percentage had slipped to 29 per cent while 53 per cent of neighbourhoods fit the low-income definition. Almost all of the latter lay in the so-called “inner suburbs”—Etobicoke, North York, Scarborough—that would carry Rob Ford to office in the 2010 municipal election.

You’d think Ford’s tax-cutting, anti-spending, pro-car agenda would play best in wealthier precincts. Or that his image as an angry white man would scare off the working-class minorities who comprise more than half of the city’s environs. But analysis of Ford’s support base performed by Zack Taylor, a University of Toronto human geography professor, suggests the opposite. Fully 53 per cent of the 346,200 people who voted for him were first-generation immigrants; one in two had never gotten past high school, and their average household income, $75,000, was fully 25 per cent less than those who voted for his main opponent, George Smitherman. Taylor doesn’t know what drove these voters to Ford. But he has some ideas. “There’s a broad swath of people who feel left out by the economic success of the city, who feel the benefits are mainly flowing to the downtown, latte-drinking, bicycle-riding sophisticates,” he says. “They watch as property values [downtown] go up, and as a result, their tax bill goes up even if tax rates don’t. All they hear is a story of restraint and cutbacks to the services they value while they watch condos go up downtown.”

Ford, of course, is not the first politician to tailor his message to exploit these sentiments. But he is the first to make voters believe he’ll back up his words with action. The result, says Towhey, is a bond with voters that no candidate—not even a fiscal conservative—can hope to forge. “Nobody believes that, when push comes to shove, the other candidates are not going to build consensus in a big kumbaya moment by jacking up their taxes three or four per cent in order to get the votes they need to pass something so they’ll look like a winner,” he says. “Everyone knows that Rob Ford will stand there and bang his head against the wall until he falls down dead. Even if he fails, he’ll get credit for trying, because for many he’s the only one who got back to them about their problems.”

A photograph of Rob Ford from the Brazen 2 police report. (Toronto Police Services)

As that perception took root in the public mind, what Towhey describes as Ford’s “pigheadedness” became an unexpected asset. The deeper he dug in against established powers like the Toronto Star, or long-sitting small-l liberals on council, the more his supporters cheered. That dynamic served him well through a summer of incremental revelations that would have lacerated other politicians. His trouble now is that he’s running out of establishment forces to battle: The Star was right about the video, while liberal colleagues who called on him to take a leave have been vindicated.

That might explain Doug Ford’s jaw-dropping, hyperbole-laden broadside on Tuesday, Nov. 5, against Bill Blair. The police chief had done nothing more offensive than voice personal “disappointment” upon finally seeing the infamous video. But that was enough for the elder Ford to launch a meandering rant that ended with a demand for Blair’s resignation. “We have the most political police chief I’ve ever seen,” he told incredulous reporters. “The police chief doesn’t intimidate me. We don’t live in a police state.”

The attack was quickly eclipsed by Rob’s admission he smoked crack. But it hinted that the mayor and his brother still have their eyes on the long game—that they think they can ride out the crisis so long as they can paint the mayor as a victim. Ford confirmed as much at his Tuesday news conference, saying he “had nothing left to hide” and that he felt like he’d “had 1,000 pounds lifted off” his shoulders. “We live in a democracy,” he added emphatically, “and on Oct. 27, 2014, I want the people of this great city to decide whether they want Rob Ford to be their mayor.”

Surviving long enough to be on that ballot won’t be easy. At last week’s news conference, Chief Blair revealed that investigators had recovered a second video whose content is “relevant” to the first, and rumours have swirled ever since as to what it shows (police have not confirmed that Ford appears in it). Then, on Thursday, the Star posted a video on its website that gives form to the worst imaginings of what the mayor might be like when he’s high: a one-minute, 17-second clip showing him on a frenzied, profanity-filled rant, bobbing around the dining room of an unidentified home, screaming about killing a man and “ripping his f—ing out.” Ford declined to provide context, saying only: “I was very inebriated.” But the surreptitiously filmed clip does not appear to be related to the crack tape, or the people implicating in it. It has, however, led some to wonder just how many compromising clips of Rob Ford might be out there.

Finally, there’s the extortion case against Lisi, which police say centres on efforts to prevent the offending video from reaching the public domain. What role, if any, Ford played in trying to get the footage is not clear. But the mayor has been noticeably reluctant to fill in that blank, repeatedly refusing police requests for an interview. When asked why, his lawyer, Dennis Morris, has cited the universal “right to remain silent, and not make a case against [oneself].”

Not the legal posture you’d expect from a man with nothing more to hide. Yet for all that, it seems as foolhardy as ever to write off the mayor. Back in June, when the crack video crisis first consumed the media, a former key adviser to Ford told Maclean’s he thought the big man had reached the end of the line. “He’s done. It’s over,” the aide said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “More staffers are going to quit. More people from the past that [the Fords] have bullied over the years are going to come forward. It’s going to be unbearable.” Yet Ford has borne that and more, and as the curtain went down this week on a gobsmacking few days, there was no indication that the show was going to end. If the next act is as punishing as the last, Toronto would do well to fortify itself with a giant collective drink—something it can down fast, like a Purple Jesus.


This map shows places frequented by, or connected to, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. The locations are noted in a Toronto police document outlining surveillance of Ford and his friend, Alexander Lisi, from March to September 2013. Lisi was arrested and charged with extortion on Oct. 31. None of the allegations against the mayor or Lisi have been proven in court.

Click on each location for more information about the event, or events, that took place there.


View Mayor Rob Ford’s Toronto in a larger map




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Rob Ford’s wild ride

  1. Everyone assumes that this story started with the first rumors of a video tape. However, the question is not why did a hammered Ford “try” crack, the question is how did a hammered Ford end up at a crack house.

    I could buy someone experimenting with hard drugs spontaneously at a party after drinking. I wouldn’t condone it, but it would at least be plausible. Given what we know, it is far more likely that Ford was a frequent visitor at 15 Windsor Rd prior to the video being taken.

    • Ford is known by police and others to have been a frequent visitor at 15 Windsor.

      • So why is he not arrested?

        • Why is he not arrested, yet? Given time he will be. Police are gathering enough evidence so they can be darn sure that they nail his Fat A** . Listen to StewartSmith, listen to reason !!

          • This comment was deleted.

          • Next time, take your caps lock off before posting please.

    • Absolutely!

    • Finally, somebody with some common sense on the issue !! Yes, StewartSmith, we will find out just how frequent a visitor Ford was.

    • I am waiting for someone to say something about the connection between the guy who got stabbed, the guy who was shot and killed……… and the video…….. and FORD. Hopefully the police are still working on this. The dots are already 90% connected now hard evidence needs to be found. My faith is with our police that it will be.

  2. Again I ask, why do you find it necessary to take shots at Ford about his size/weight? That commentary adds NOTHING to the discussion & is yet another reason why many Ford supporters feel that the media is unfair to him – and in some instances they aren’t wrong.

    • Well such a great Honey Boo Boo, how can this be missed? And this scarecrow represneting Toronto! Honey crack head Boo Boo

      • You seem to be assuming I am defending Ford – I’m not – simply commenting on Gillis’ propensity for taking shots re: Ford’s weight. There are lots of reasons to be unhappy with Ford & his behavior – the subject of his weight doesn’t need to be part of the discussion. And your incoherent post adds nothing to the conversation either.

    • Sympathetic stupid infidel !!! WTF do you think Rob Ford was doing at a crack house??? Taking pictures!!! And YES!!! He is a bloody slob!!! And eh doesn’t give a shit about you or this city! The Ford family wealth (look it up on Wikipedia) is the ONLY thing that supports this FAT BASTARD who has used power and money to murder and lie ….

      • What part of “There are lots of reasons to be unhappy with Ford and his behavior” don’t you understand, vegan? When you call other posters “infidels,” you make us wonder if you’re as deluded as Ford supporters.

  3. Everyone politician seems to have some skeletons in their closet. I can’t help but feel as though the media likes to come down on Ford just for his appearance. It’s like they’re picking on a really easy, slow target because going after the truly corrupt in this country would be too difficult.

    • No, the media is just the medium. The Toronto elites (the Marxist academia, the welfare industry, the unions, the Cosmopolitan Tribe, etc) would like to crush this – and any future – attempt of any fiscal conservative to inject fiscal responsibility and take away the trough from them.

      • Who did the crack, drank and drove, hanged out with criminals, lied repeatedly? Do you expect that everyone is simply going to accept that behaviour because of some dubious benefits to the bottom line?

      • Fiscal responsibility? like canceling the Scarborough LRT already under construction, wasting $85 million already spent on that just to build a subway that the experts say is not needed, with cost $1B+ more, before the inevitable cost overruns, will now have to be operated by the city at a cost of millions more, just so that Ford can drive himself around the city (inebriated) uninterupted by streetcars? Please explain how this is fiscally responsible – while you’re at it, explain why city spending is up since Ford took office.

        • City’s spending is up because of efficiencies and cuts (renegotiating municipal employees remuneration, outsourcing, individual departments’ budgets for 2013 were reduced by $187 m). In the 2013, no prior-year surplus funds were used to balance the opening operating pressure (aka deficit).

          That cost you as a property tax payer 2% more in 2013 than in 2012.

          http://www1.toronto.ca/wps/portal/contentonly?vgnextoid=61c5e03bb8d1e310VgnVCM10000071d60f89RCRD&vgnextfmt=default

          Re LTR; that black hole was not Ford’s folly to initiate. Re the subway cost override you mention, please provide CREDIBLE link to back your assertions.

          • Ahh, the old, “it’s not Rob’s fault, it’s everyone before him”. The fact is, he constantly claims to have saved the city $1 billion, but can’t say how.
            Ford did not initiate the LRT, but he IS responsible for cancelling a fully paid line that was already under construction. As for a “credible” source for the costs? try Rob Ford.

          • Read Metrolinx studies, as is. The LRT was completely cost-effective And while you’re learning how to do research, here’s a hint: Go to credible sources, not Ford support group websites. I know where you go, because you didn’t even realize that Ford did indeed use a surplus to balance his budget. And if you start to get capable at this, read the conservative C.D. Howe institute’s study that suggests that workers in essential services who can’t collectively bargain actually get paid higher. Everything Ford does is for show, and people like you eat it up. By the way, your link doesn’t work. I will bet it was the one-man Ford support group called Toronto Taxpayers Foundation.

      • Listen carefully, as is. Property taxes have gone up under Ford. Why? Because he cancelled the vehicle transfer tax, and because the Scarborough subway, if it’s ever built, will cost huge money. Privatizing garbage collection does not save money. Municipal reports indicate that Toronto pays less per ton for publicly collected garbage than suburbs that have privatized collection. Ford lies like a rug. All of his other supposed cost savings have been debunked. Attendance records indicate that Ford missed dozens of city council meetings. Police video indicates that he was often spending working hours in parks with Sandro Lisi. Unfortunately, as is, there are many people (mostly in the suburbs) as deluded and willfully stupid as you, which is why Toronto should be de-amalgamated. In the city proper, Ford’s chances of being re-elected are those of a snowball in hell.

    • This is a frequent charge, but the truth is that there was a decade-long record of Ford’s professional performance, and it was always buffoonish and incompetent. Have a look on youtube of his behaviour in city council meetings as a councillor.

      No, his critics don’t hate him for his appearance. But I think his supporters think that is the case because they only engage with politics on a superficial level.

      • I love buttermilk!!!

    • Your statement does not make fell anyone better. Your idol will not become more acceptable just because “everyone does that”. NO ONE has done anything close so disgusting in Canadian history – and so publicly like this monster! He has to face criminal charges,and also be given a pink slip from City Hall – just as any regular citizen would in this situation. THIS I would call democracy! No one is above the Law!

    • Not many have lied so vociferously or have accused the media of a witch hunt only to see them vindicated.

  4. It’s not a political train-wreck until he loses an election.

  5. By the way, your shots at the former governor of Alaska are pathetic, Gillis. The fact that you qualify as a journalist is more of a wonder than anything Palin or Ford has done.

    • Had Sen. John McCain–a septuagenarian cancer survivor–been elected President and subsequently died during his term of office, do you really think Sarah Palin would have been qualified to lead the greatest military and economic power on the globe? Really? I don’t think John McCain himself believed her to be prepared for that role.

      Sure, she was Governor of Alaska, a state whose population is barely a fourth the size of Toronto’s. Bogged down in a swamp of ethics scandals, however, she resigned the governorship with 18 months left in her term of office. Palin knew when to leave office, if only to cash in on her own fame before her celebrity reaches its expiration date.

      • But Biden the clown is fine? You’re quite the misogynist.

        • I never said anything about Governor Palin’s gender, nor did I even mention Vice-President Biden. You seem to be having an argument with yourself. Also, cleverly, you avoided answering my question about Palin’s qualifications to serve as President.

          • That was supposed to be an answer? I’m not allowed to mention Biden, the other candidate VP in the same election? Because you say so? You sound like a true misogynist, someone who likes to dictate his own rules.
            Of course misogynists like you are not explicit, they never are. But apparently a clown who has trouble tying his own shoes is qualified to be VP. Someone who happens to be male. Anyone can read between the lines.

          • What did I lie about? Disapproving of a single politician–Palin– who happens to be a woman hardly makes one a misogynist. I would welcome a well qualified woman as President of the United State–or PM–and they are out there.
            Didn’t know about Biden’s trouble with shoelaces. Maybe it’s arthritis–he is 70 years old. But a good pair of loafers would take care of that.

      • What about the current WH occupant? Do you REALLY think he is “qualified to lead the greatest military and economic power on the globe”? Where’s the proof? In the enormous scandals and economic decay?

        • American voters appear to believe he deserved a second term. Unemployment, which peaked at 10% during Obama’s first year in office, is now at 7.8% again, same as when he took over amidst the worst economic crisis in over 80 years. the banking crisis. New banking regulations that are moving toward Canada’s much more stable policies. Health insurance policies that will move the U.S. gradually closer to Canada’s universal coverage. U.S. forces out of Iraq, where they never should have been. The end of Pentagon rules discriminating against gays and lesbians serving in uniform. The end of Federal discrimination against same sex marriage. Yeah, I think he has been qualified, though not perfect. Haven’t seen a perfect one yet.

          • Labour participation is at its lowest since the 50s and the Carter era. Read unemployment beyond the rosy U-3. 56-60% want Obamacare seriously restructured or repealed. His current approval rating (39%, Gallup) is on par with W’s first year of second term.

          • Okay, labour participation rate is fine, if you accept that politicians have anything other than a negligible impact on economies, which I presume you don’t given that you’re probably a conservative (although, the opposite could be said to a “liberal” defending Obama).

            But are you really going to appeal to popularity as an objective sign of the effectiveness of a presidency. Don’t get me wrong, popularity is the lifeblood of politics but it’s a pi$$ poor indicator of anything other than electability, which in Obama’s case, is completely irrelevant.

    • Palin ran Alaska like a fiefdom, and she had zero sense of personal responsibility. Start your research with the “bridge to nowhere” and continue on with the many accounts of her personal vendettas. And don’t attack Charlie Gillis’s skills, scf. You’re only making yourself look foolish.

      • You forgot to take your medication.

  6. Every day that this man infuriates the politically correct media I love him more for it. I hope he stays the course and wins again.

    • These days it isn’t “infuriate”. Baffle and amuse, sure, but no one is mad, At best, it’s pity.

    • Ah, the politics of spite. It is a surefire path to disaster, as this case study once again confirms.

    • Oh yeah – Leno, KImmel, Ferguson, Stewart and Colbert really seem infuriated while milking endless laughs out of the situation

    • How old are you?

  7. “Inside the greatest political train wreck of our time” – I guess if “our time” is the last few weeks in Toronto… Maclean’s really loves hyperboles.

    • The word is “hyperbole.” And yes, being ridiculed around the world with your dirty laundry hanging out is the greatest political train wreck of our time.

  8. We all smoked weed in our younger years. But crack and meth are what the low lifes and addicts smoked. There is a big difference between crack and weed despite what Stephen Harper and the medical association say.

    • The medical association is perhaps more aware than anyone else that there is a big difference between crack and weed.

  9. If he doesn’t get help for his alcoholism, I predict Ford will be dead in about a year. Inevitably, the pathetic comment will be made: we are all responsible for Rob Fords death. I don’t know anything about the Fords but I suspect there must be a history of addiction there somewhere. How else do you account for family members who say he needs a holiday of a week or two (Doug Ford) or, incredibly, that he just needs to install a breathalyzer in his car (Ford’s mother) Ford needs an intervention, STAT. It’s his family that needs to do it. Brother Doug needs to man up. Set aside the denial, and try to save Rob’s life. The saddest thing of all would be to see Ford drop dead from a disease that could have been treated.

    • Can’t care less about his health and disfunctional famliy- a mixture of Here comes Honey Boo Boo and the Sopranos. He has to face criminal charges in court and get punished just the way any regular citizen would be.

      • Well said

      • Absolutely correct ! I’m sure we will all be there to see and hear every minute of it !

  10. This comment was deleted.

    • 11. You teach/study PoliSci/Women’s Studies/Colonialism
      12. You have already saved three polar bears and two whales by turning vegan
      13. You occupied your parents’ basement ten years before Occupy Wall St
      14. You ware a Che T-shirt
      15. You work in the welfare/social justice/”sustainable” development or energy “industries”
      16. Etc.

      • 16. You have standards

        • This comment was deleted.

          • Incorrect. Sorry for confounding your bizarre expectations.

          • sounds like someone didn’t get the job…

      • Wow I detect a little jealousy here…You are a Rob Ford supporter if you fit in one these categories

        1. Entitled
        2. Self absorbed
        3. Enabled
        4. Never had to work hard for anything
        5. Privileged
        6. Had everything handed to you on a silver platter
        7. Not interested in human rights
        8. Believe in a two tier system. The Rich and the Poor
        9. Don’t believe in fair wages
        10. Has a personal driver.

        This is about a man who is an elected official who needs to step down to take care of himself and his family, before he can try to take care of the City.

        • Add Extremely Embarrassed…I am a Canadian living outside of Canada and to see this alcoholic representing and reflecting a image for our country (in virtually all the American and international media) and the City of Toronto is simply sad for all us Expats

          • I absolutely agree with you!

          • James. Im actually glad you left Toronto. The unions have screwed us for so many years. AND one mone is brave enough to stand up to them comes into office…. Well you know the rest. Just read the wonderful newspaper the Star.. (btw the star lost 70 million last year!!!))

          • Explain how unions have “screwed it for us” Please enlighten me…oh what is “mone” mean?…My dear, we’ve been getting screwed for years….example banks….

          • By distorting labour costs. Good news is, whenever labour costs are pushed up, businesses move to lower labour cost jurisdictions. Poor unions end as victims of their success.

        • Well said!

        • You workin’ for NSA? Nice try but 100% off reality. There’s no Ford Nation – just revolting TO taxpayers, and complete disconnect between taxpaying citizens and political/municipal “elites” under Miller’s regime.

          Please explain, what is a “fair wage”? How much would that be, and who will provide the financing for that fair wage to people with low/no qualification/skills, or graduates of Women’s studies/PoliSci/Colonialism.

          • Is this Rob???? lol

          • For the record…in case you didn’t know, Rob Ford graduated from Carleton University in Political Science…..which most likely included some Colonialism courses….

          • Actually, Rob Ford didn’t graduate from Carleton or any university. He dropped out after the first year to take a job at his daddy’s business.

          • I stand corrected…Thank you. He doesn’t even have a post secondary degree.

          • So?

            Still awaiting your kind reply on “fair wages”.

        • This comment was deleted.

          • Listen my, dear…when you are 80 arm pit hair isn’t an issue anymore…it might bother you, but it doesn’t bother me..

          • I can show you a fat crackhead..his name is Rob Ford

        • You forgot
          11. Live in a basement
          12. Live off your parents
          13. Your IQ is under 50
          14. You have no social skills
          15. You suffer from cognitive dissonance

        • Off the mark, dear vegan. Too much class envy. Your two minutes of hate are up. What is a “fair wage”?

      • Yes neither am I there. You guys should stop profiling anti-Fords. It is very simple. We are people who want smart and honest politicians.

        • Miller? Smitherman? McGuinty? Wynne?

        • Are you saying Rob Ford is smart and honest? Really?

    • Yeppers! We are also very caring members of society who like to give back to the community. We are also most likely to donate blood. Think about should you or any of your family members ever need a transfusion.

    • And you are so low and ignorant.

    • You got me. I rarely shave my armpits.

    • They’re right. Ford Nation IS Toronto’s Tea Party. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

    • SO WRONG. Stupid assumptions to defend a bumbling buffoon who humiliates this country. I am skinny – that is the only category I fit – and that is because I just lost 30lbs from having cancer. Get a reality check.

    • I am none of those and I despise this guy and his brother.

  11. Etobi-COKE

    • Etobi-CRACK !

  12. Mr Gillis, you seem to one of the numeracy-challenged leftists wondering why, oh why support for Ford is not only not waning, but, oh horror, even increasing. Here’s some food for thought:

    2010 Miller last TO budget:

    Opening budget pressure (aka deficit): $823 m
    Property tax increase to cover part of deficit: 2.90%
    Total TO operating budget: $9.2 bn

    2013 Ford last TO budget:
    Opening budget pressure (aka deficit): $476 m (after savings, efficiencies, cuts, and renegotiated remunerationn of city employees)
    Property tax increase to cover part of deficit: 1.90%
    Total TO operating budget: $10.86 bn

    Under Ford, more funds ($10.86 nb vs. $9.2 bn ) were available than under Miller, at a lower cost to TO taxpayers (1.90% vs. 2.90%)

    It’s ALWAYS the numbers/economy, stupid. Meanwhile, you may continue examining the garbage bins for Ford’s vodka bottles.

    • Speaking of innumerate…

      • Please elaborate.

          • What exactly “debunks” Ford’s budgets, besides the provocative title? Provide relevant paragraphs from this truly authoritative piece in a truly authoritative medium (Metronews). That makes good reading for low-information voters on the subway.

          • “the gross operating budget is a lousy measure of the city’s fiscal health. Both because Toronto has to balance its budget every year — with no deficit spending — and because a huge percentage of the gross budget is made up of programs that are funded via provincial funding transfers or supported 100 per cent with user fees.
            [...]
            a fairer comparison of city spending growth is to look at what finance staff call Toronto’s net operating budget. It’s called as such because it represents city expenditures that are left over once you account for all the user fees, transfer payments from other governments, investment income, fines, and so on. It’s the remainder that has to be covered through the assessment base via property taxes.
            [...]
            Since amalgamation, the part of the budget paid for with property taxes has increased from $2.5 billion to $3.7 billion. That represents an increase of about 2.6 per cent per year, which is pretty darn close to matching the rate of inflation.
            [...]
            Under Miller, the average increase was about 3.1 per cent per year. Under Ford, that increase has been a bit smaller. He’s closely kept to the pattern set by Mayor Mel Lastman in his first term, with below-inflation increases that will probably have to be made up for with larger increases over the next decade. You can’t fight inflation for long.”

            I think those excerpts capture the heart of the matter. And as for your snide comments about Metro, that is what’s known as “shooting the messenger” – a frequent hobby of Ford’s defenders.

          • W
            Again, what exactly “debunks” Ford’s budget and numbers in those verbose paragraphs?!

          • You can lead a horse to analysis, but you can’t make him think.

          • Apologies for the previous reply. I typed it in a fit of snottiness, then tried to delete it, not realizing that disqus would just publish it as “guest” which prevents me from editing it. You are clearly a smart person, who is unwilling to make the inferences from that analysis that I make. And I’m unwilling to write the essays and create the graphs that would make my point of view explicit enough for you to accept (or perhaps you never would.)

            Simply put, the relationship between the gross operating budget and property tax increases is not direct. And Ford is using unsustainable tools to pay for the opening pressure. Meanwhile he’s wasting vast amounts of money on the transit file.

            That ain’t fiscal responsibility in my book! Does it ‘debunk’ these numbers? Well, they’re still numbers, but that doesn’t mean they reflect reality in any meaningful way.

          • It debunks his claim to have saved a billion dollars. Do we really have to hold your hand here?

          • As is doesn’t want us to know that he trolls pro-Ford websites. This is why he doesn’t give his sources.

    • Rob Ford could of least recycled those vodka bottles. Yes I’m one of those! A vegan…..

      • Yeah and at least not urinate in a school backyard!

      • Well, then I’m 100% correct, see No12 below. Unlike you.

        • Aren’t you clever….so smart..

          • No, it’s just that you leftists are so predictable.

      • Naw; he was doing the homeless a favour by leaving them so they could be cashed in. What a sweet guy.

    • And has a daughter who is working on her PhD in PoliSci/Women’s Studies/Colonialism….

    • But really, is Rob Ford the only fiscally conservative populist candidate the political right could find in all of Toronto? Is he really the most qualified guy conservatives can find to lead the nation’s largest city? Surely they can do better than this.

      • Awaiting your suggestions…

        • Well, I would say that choice belongs to conservatives, not myself. But I do have faith that the right could find a much more suitable candidate who could successfully carry forward the same policies without the burden of what appears to be a significant substance abuse problem. Rob Ford’s personal health and welfare should take precedence over his being used as a sherpa for anyone’s political agenda–conservative or liberal.

        • Anyone who can breathe.

    • Um, the amount I pay in taxes to the City of Toronto hasn’t actually decreased under Ford, @disqus_iCQiyOhcZV:disqus . The decrease in the percentage is due to the increase in population, as the percentage levy is based on the budget divided by the number of households in the City, based on the market value assessment of one’s property. True, I don’t pay the VRT anymore, but the cost of my Metropass has gone up by $60, so that’s a wash. User fees have increased for many people too. Meanwhile, the City’s credit rating remains unchanged now as under Miller. Very few “efficiencies” have been found, and in fact taxes and debt will increase because of Ford’s 3 stop Sheppard subway for 30 years to come. So pppftt to his “fiscal responsiblity” (as per the recent misspelled billboard from his supporters along the Gardiner).

      A politician who has had 900 interactions with a criminal, and shady transactions involving manila envelopes and secret drops at service stations deserves to be suspended from office. But perhaps the Mayor can explain…however, I have yet to receive a response from the Mayor’s office as to what was going on there, but I’m sure we’ll find out soon enough through other channels,.

      • It cannot decrease, and I never wrote that. Under Ford, property taxes have increased, but the rates of increase are far below Miller’s. However, even if the rate of increase were 0%. i.e. no increase of property tax, you will still pay more in absolute $$, because of the phase-in increase of the value of your property (as assessed by MPAC).

        Before posting nonsensical rants, check what is the tax increase rate (1.95-2.00% for 2014), AND the phased-in increase of the value of your property (as determined by MPAC). Of course, City of TO (and Ford as its mayor) and MPAC are completely different and independent entities.

        Even TOStar acknowledges that To user fees are much lower than those of other municipalities of GTA (in the beginning of the Ford regime in late 2010, user fees covered on average 30% of the cost of TO services):

        http://www.thestar.com/news/city_hall/2011/07/19/city_user_fees_poised_for_big_jump.html

        If you use public transport, then it is fair that YOU should pay for it, and you should not expect to be subsidized by other TO citizens.

        You must quantify your assertion of “few efficiencies”. My advice is to look at the difference between the opening pressures under Miller and Ford (close to $350m less under Ford). The significant decrease does not come out of thin air: renegotiated remuneration of city employees; outsourcing; freeze of hiring in certain departments, etc

        • Automobile use is massively subsidized by all taxpayers. A good transit system will reduce the numbers of cars on the road, which is a direct benefit to drivers.

          It’s all part of the same system. A functioning city must include efficient, affordable public transit.

          • That’s interesting – I had no idea that Toronto was an outlier in this respect.

            I’d say there are a couple of obvious interpretations of this information though, besides the one presented in this article. For example: that T.O. drivers are subsidizing rural drivers; and that this analysis only considers money that actually has been spent rather than the amount that *should* have been spent to maintain enough infrastructure. That is, T.O. drivers are only overpaying because of hideous congestion, and the fact that we’re allowing infrastructure to crumble.

            Nonetheless, thanks for the link. Interesting stuff. (And you shouldn’t make any assumptions about my relationship to the Toronto Star. In my opinion, all of Canada’s newspapers are garbage.)

        • Ah, that’s a good one, @as is, telling me to do some research before posting rants. You are wrong about how MPAC is used to calculate propety taxes. Dylan Ried explains it here: http://spacingtoronto.ca/2008/03/28/property-taxes-are-weird/. And in fact if Ford was such a fiscal superstar, rates could go down (KPMG has basically shown that there were no efficiencies to be found).

          In any case, my point was that I have not noticed a difference in the amounts of taxes I pay. Thus the main plank that Ford apologists are using to laud him doesn’t seem well supported, and makes why they’re ignoring his egregious behaviour even more mystifying.

          As an aside, you’re also nonsensical for saying that user fees for rec programs are too low, while at the same time TTC riders (who are often poor) should be paying more. For your information, they pay one of the highest percentages towards operating costs (around 70%) of any transit system anywhere. If Ford were serious about reducing congestion, he’d be boosting transit across the City, instead of building a gravy trainlet to Scarborough, which will result in above average tax increases for the next 30 years, and substantially increase the City’s debt.

          • !? No mention of MPAC in your link. T

            The following ruins the already ruined credibility of this NOW “expert”:

            “By contrast, anti-government politicians can call for a
            reasonable-sounding and attractive “tax freeze,” which actually means cutting city revenues in real terms (because of inflation).”

            Property taxes do not cover 100% of the opening pressure (deficit in an operating budget. They cover app. 40% of the opening pressure (deficit): their share in covering the opening pressure/deficit may be reduced if efficiencies and cuts are identified. That’s what Ford did.

          • The author mentions how MPAC is used in the comments section: basically your individual assessed valued as a percent of the sum of everyone’s values is used to caculate your fraction of the property tax you pay. If everyone’s value goes up, then that fraction will stay the same.

            In any case, I reiterate my point was that I have not noticed a difference in the amounts of taxes I pay. Thus the main plank that Ford apologists are using to laud him doesn’t seem well supported, and makes why they’re ignoring his egregious behaviour even more mystifying.

            Comically, you’re willing to discredit Dylan Reid, an independent journalist, because of a turn of phrasing he used yet you still give credit to Ford even though he has dishonoured the office of mayor through drug use, binge drinking, dubious meetings with Lisi, profanity laden rants, urilnating on school property, and who knows what will come out in the near future. Perhaps you can tell me what i should tell my children regarding such behaviour from someone in the highest office of the City. With that, I am done this conversation, @disqus_iCQiyOhcZV:disqus .

        • Are you a complete idiot? The majority of people use transit. If you don’t want your taxes paying for city services, go live in a hole in the Sahara. Juvenile.

        • From Nick’s link to the Dylan Reid article:
          “Between 2002 and 2007, Toronto’s residential property tax rate dropped from 0.73081% of a property’s value to 0.5888434% — a cut of about 19%. Commercial taxes dropped by slightly more.”
          That would be during the Miller years. Maybe you’d like to explain that to all of us.

    • 11. You troll pro-Ford websites
      12. You troll pro-Ford websites
      13. You troll pro-Ford websites
      14. Etc.

  13. As if when we think of our crack smoking, Purple Jesus drinking mayor, we should hear the Rocky theme. Toronto has to give up its addiction to politics as trashy scripted reality TV programming. All those who say he’s been great fiscally wouldn’t even hire him as an entry level bookkeeper for fear he’d mess up the books while very very inebriated, but because they follow him like some Honey Robbie, they’d have him again as mayor.

    • I wouldn’t invite him to a birthday party – leave alone something else!

  14. Yes, we find it hard to believe that this buffoon has an approval rating go up. Yes, it is absolutely terrible for democracy that this is the case. But are we listening to the why, which I’ve seen explained both here and elsewhere at least twice. We need our ‘lefty’ politicians to work for what matters to the individual voter when it matters to the individual voter. No more important lunches, or blowing off ‘a person’ for the sake of ‘the constituency’. We can have both thoughtful and competent politicians who make people their number one priority–but only if we demand it.

    • There are suckers born every minute..thats a lot of Ford supporters

  15. How old are Fords children? This must be affecting them terribly, especially if they go to school outside the home. You would think, if anything, he would go for help for them

    • If it were anyone else from Fraud Nation, like one of his racialised constituents those kids would have long ago been removed and placed in care. Did you know they were in the car with him the night of his St. Pat’s Day drunken/drugged marauding and they were taken away BY A STAFFER to keep them safe?

  16. Why is the police chief getting a free pass on this? The cops had the Crack video for months but he only chose to go public once budgets for 2014 showed a marginal increase in the police budget – far below what Blair was demanding. And that issue, combined with the fact that at least one of Blair’s buddies is running for the mayoral election prompted the leaks.

    • Actually the police didn’t get the deleted video off the hard drive until a couple of days before the chief made the announcement.

  17. He has to face criminal charges,and also be given a pink slip from City Hall – just as any regular citizen would in this situation. THIS I would call democracy! No one is above the Law!

    • agreed!!

    • Actually, I don’t think you can outright legally stop employing someone just because he/she has an addiction. The problem with Ford is that we are way past the “just because”.

      • Sure you can. You pay severance or offer a buy-out.

  18. How are things in London, Ontario?

  19. That Ford has personal problems related to substance abuse is now a fact.
    That he meant to do and did as promised to improve life of taxpayers of Toronto is also a fact. There always will be pro Ford and anti Ford crowds. But what I have witnessed in past year has nothing to do with his abuse of substance. Any politician who gets caught doing something stupid will deny it as much as possible, so you can call it lying, denying or whatever you wish. There is plenty of examples in Canadian or international politics

    However, regardless what he is guilty of does not justify the attacks on his persona, personal looks, his fashion preferences these attacks by media in the form of grotesque pictures picked by the editors including this rag, Shows that Toronto media and liberal Ford haters have no class. For one, because these attacks started well before any of the facts known now were proven. Toronto media indulging in this type of criticism are nothing but attack dogs and hyenas preying on the wounded sick prey. Alcoholic will be only an alcoholic no matter how many times he gets drunk. But you journalists (did not you say that alcoholism and drug abuse is a disease?) You are worse than a cancer. You are greedy inhuman beings in this situation. It is not Ford but you Toronto Star, CBC etc. who made Toronto look like bunch of idiots. It is you feeding another bunch of losers south of the border with this nonsense. Yes I am sure they are your poster boys of morality Leno, Stewart, Colbert.

  20. Boy oh boy. I remember when reading Macleans was like reading Time or Newsweek. Now it steh equivalent of the Toronto Star and Inquirer. How sad… You really dont make money from selling your crappy magazine??? Didn’t think so. You get paid by gauging me from my Cable and phone bills. Thanks ROGERS!!!!

  21. It’s like a kid getting in with the wrong crowd and I think there is a LOT more behind and involved with this than just Rob Ford’s “isms”. It seems that those perhaps are weaknesses of his re booze and weight but slimeballs from somewhere pushed him more, involving him slowly into drugs — wait there is more — extortion is somewhere underlying but it is sure going to look like it was ALL Ford’s doing before this is over. He had best step down and get his health looked after before he blows up and pops with pressure! Wouldn’t all those slime buckets just love that one!! And it gets worse —
    while the world was thriving on drama of Ford and Harper’s Senators, Cristy Clark, BC Premier and Alberta’s Premier come walking in the back door very quietly and announce that the pipelines will run thru BC and of course there will be no damage done but no one even sees this huge controversial issue happening before our eyes as everyone is glued to Ontario’s soap opera. Not too much is being done for taxpayers anywhere these days; all that is happening is taxpayers are paying dearly for all these idiots in government while they continue to spend our dollars on themselves! What happened to education/teachers/medical/seniors pensions being the issues for a while? Putting monies where it is needed the most. The pipelines will leak and earth will be hooped so guess there is no concern for the basics; the politicians will all have money to move elsewhere.
    Rob Ford has some serious problems but I hope they dig deeper than his actions that have come to the forefront before this is over as there are more involed big times. Same as Harper — such a liar!

  22. Macleans deleted my pro ford rant. I checked their rules and I did not break any of them. Ahh censorship. No wonder no one reads the articles any more.

  23. I do not understand why a man like Ford can get away with all this story’s surranding him, imbarrasing all of us the the city of Toronto. I think it is time we all do what ever needs to be done to take this person away from City Hall and to end this horrific story and let the city run in the proper manner again,,,,GO AWAY FORD, YOU ARE NO LONGER WANTED HERE..

  24. Another year of unpredictable madness is in the making…………

  25. Six months of Rob Ford circus summarized in 2 cartoons: parliamenthell.wordpress.com

  26. I know it’s small potatoes but few things pi$$ me off more than a person who litters. This scum bag rattles on about tax dollars all the while littering in public parks that need to be cleaned up (in theory) by parks staff who are paid with, you guessed it, tax dollars.

    Hey Slob, if people took pride in their communities and respected other people’s communities ya’ll might be able to reduce costs.

    If you’re not going to respect the rights of others by allegedly getting blasted behind the wheel, at least you could pick up after yourself.

    • …so you want park staffs to be unemployed?

  27. Why does police headquarters show on the map as located at St Clair & Vaughan Rd?

  28. Our society is chock full of hypocrites, especially those who claim to have morals, administered from the barrel of a gun, taser, mace, night stick, knife, 9mm pistol, 12-guage shotgun, steel-toed boots that can stomp you to death, a car that can be used to run you over (and get away with it), and a plethora of submission techniques and tools, used by a gang of thieving, murderous thugs with radios, mainly against mainly to poor, who are heinously and disproportionately imprisoned by the same iniquitous forces who would hate Rob Ford. Almost one quarter of the prison population in Canada are natives, compared to their 4% population here.

  29. I have never seen a person judged and convicted without a trial since the last western movie I watched. It is unbelievable how many self righteous people there are in the world. The ones screaming the loudest must be the most righteous of the pack. Who is making money from the Ford debacle is the Canadian MEDIA. They have put more time and resources into the Ford story than they did for 9/11. He admitted to smoking crack once, does that make him a junky? I don’t think so. The MEDIA would have you believe he is. He admitted to driving while intoxicated, how many councilors have done the same thing? But never got caught.
    In the end, why don’t you self righteous hypocrites revert back to the old west ways, you’ve already convicted the man, without a trial, you might as well hang him too. The whole lot of you are sickening.

  30. He may have tried it, but not a crackhead. He is too heavy. People addicted to crack cocaine are normally skinny…they do not eat…anything..

  31. Yes, when the media CREATES the news, its sure to happen! Funny though, the media has not created any news, or in fact, done little reporting on the fact that the ONtario Premier’s office was the subject of a search warrant by the anti-rackets squad of the OPP, or the fact that a senior cabinet minister(who denied signing anything but turned out they did) who is now the unelected Premier of the Province, is responsible for massive scandals that have made Ontario the highest in electricity rates in North America, driving out the last vestiges of industry, or the fact that little if any coverage was done on her closest friend, and a Deputy Minister of Education who was charged with many many counts of producing and distributing child porn.!

    ah but in the liberal mindset, SEX is good, even if it means it harms kids. Drugs are bad, well unless you’re a liberal who uses drugs, then its all good.

    But hey folks, the city of Toronto has now begun its spending and tax binge! Something the taxpayers do remember!

  32. I see the minions from Fraud Nation have arrived. Before you repeat the canard that Fraud has saved the city money…please, please, please familiarize yourself with the actual facts! He has cost us hundreds of millions on the transit file ALONE! You will find actual numbers is a recent article in the CONSERVATIVE Globe and MAil and also in a recent National Post article…the most CONSERVATIVE paper in the nation that ENDORSED Ford! Get your FACTS!

  33. When all is said and done, I would be willing to guess there will be more liquor, drug and prostitute stories. Currently they are hidden away, but just wait, one person facing jail can often be persuaded to give up anyone. Look for Sandro Lisi’s lawyer to work a deal, or one of the other crack dealers at that home that Ford apparently likes to visit, who when push comes to shove will give up a friend or someone of importance to avoid a stint in the big house.

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