TORONTO – Toronto’s mayor was in fighting form Sunday, taking every opportunity to throw punches at his critics while making no direct mention on his weekly radio show of the drug use allegations that have been dogging him for days.
Rob Ford’s appearance on Newstalk 1010 remained true to his strategy of curtailing comment on the scandal that has now plagued him for more than a fortnight ever since two publications reported on an alleged video that shows the mayor smoking what appears to be crack cocaine.
Rather than address the allegations and the consequent departure of several staffers from his office, Ford used his time on the airwaves to lash out at Ontario’s governing Liberals, slam media outlets that have questioned his ability to govern and speak directly to Ford Nation, the name coined for his most ardent supporters.
“The support I’m getting is phenomenal,” said Ford, who spent much of the show touting the progress he has made at city hall while reminding listeners he was definitely going to run in the next municipal election despite calls to resign.
“I’m just itching to go on the campaign trail. It’s like a caged animal here. I want to put my record and let the people decide.”
Ford has said he does not use crack cocaine and said he is not an addict of the drug. He has also said the alleged video does not exist.
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne has expressed concern about the “personal issues” that have garnered much attention at city hall in recent days and expressed hope that Toronto’s city council can “get on with its business.”
In discussing Wynne’s governance, Ford told the premier to “straighten up” her act.
“She couldn’t organize a two-car funeral and you’re telling me to get my house in order? I’ve proven I can get my house in order, I’ve saved a billion dollars in two years Premier, ” said Ford.
The mayor co-hosted the show with his brother, Coun. Doug Ford, who introduced a new segment called “setting the record straight.”
The brothers chose to criticize a story from the Toronto Star — one of the publications that first reported on the alleged crack video — which reported email records belonging to staffers who had left the mayor’s office had been ordered deleted.
The Fords did not talk about the series of stories from the newspaper over the past week that were directly related to the alleged crack video.
Rob Ford said he would “have a stroke” if the newspaper apologized for its recent reporting, which his brother called “gutter journalism.”
“You would have pick me off the floor if they did that,” said the mayor. “They’re never going to apologize.”
Ford and his brother also answered questions from a few callers on their show but didn’t speak with a single listener who was critical.
One woman, who said she wasn’t a Toronto resident, called the mayor and his brother “a couple of wonderful teddy bears” and told Ford to continue holding his head high as controversy continues to surround him.
On May 16, the U.S. website Gawker and the Star said they had seen cellphone video made by someone described as a drug dealer that apparently showed Ford smoking crack cocaine.
The reports have not been independently verified and the Star itself has said it could not vouch for its authenticity. Gawker has raised $200,000 to try to buy the video but has been unable to purchase it so far.
According to latest Star report, sources said Ford told alarmed senior aides a day after the scandal erupted that he knew where the video was.
Through the firestorm of controversy that has surrounded his office in recent days, Ford insists it has been business as usual at city hall.