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An Attempted Transcript of Rob Ford’s Distracted As It Happens Interview

News media at Rob Ford’s victory party on Monday night. Photo by Christopher Drost/Torontoist.

Fewer than twenty-four hours after he was elected mayor, Rob Ford gave a phone interview with CBC Radio’s As It Happens—while at a football practice for the high school team he coaches. His Don Bosco Catholic Secondary School Eagles are on the verge of a championship, after all; they face off on Thursday afternoon against Chaminade College School.
The audio of the interview is being passed around now, and not without good reason: Ford’s interview with Canada’s public broadcaster—as he intermittently peels off to yell at players and fellow coaches, and as he very distractedly tries to answer Carol Off’s questions—is at turns funny, disorienting, and distressing.
Our attempt at a transcript of the three-minute-long conversation:

Carol Off: Mr. Ford, congratulations…
Rob Ford: Thank you. Appreciate it.
Carol Off: People are saying it’s a, calling it a stunning win. What do you think that—
Rob Ford: Things are, things are going really well.
Carol Off: What drew so much—
Rob Ford, yelling: Coach, half your juniors aren’t even here, eh? Alright. Alright.
Carol Off: Hello, Mr. Ford, are you there?
Rob Ford: Yeah, yeah, I’m here, yeah.
Carol Off: Oh, you’re at some event or…?
Rob Ford: I’m a coach. I’m a football coach.
Carol Off: Okay, so you’re at football practice, then.
Rob Ford: Yes.
Carol Off: Alright well, okay, we’ll continue then. What is it that you think drew so much support to your campaign?
Rob Ford: Yeah, it’s just people are sick and tired of the wasteful spending. People are sick and tired of wasteful spending, that’s the bottom line, that’s what it comes down.
Carol Off: Well there—
Rob Ford: You know, I’m the only one that can go down there [Inaudible, then, yelling:] Just go get changed! Go! Out! And get changed! Don’t worry about the water right now. [Pause.] Sorry.
Carol Off: Uh-huh—
Rob Ford: So, um, yeah, no, people are just fed up with, uh, with, you know, uh, politicians squandering, uh, hard-earned tax dollars, and they know that I’m gonna get rid of the sixty-dollar car registration tax and the land transfer tax.
Carol Off: Well you know that your campaign has been compared to Mike Harris’s Common Sense Revolution, to the Tea Party movement, do you see those comparisons?
Rob Ford: I don’t see [inaudible] comparisons [inaudible] what, I don’t care [laughs]. I just, I just know, know the taxpayers, uh, want, uh, you know, the gravy train to come to an end, and that, uh, Rob Ford’s the guy to do it, and uh [inaudible]—
Carol Off: Do you think there are similarities?
Rob Ford: And, and, I don’t, I don’t see there’s any similarities, I just know that, uh, like I said, uh, I’m, you know, gonna put an end to the wasteful spending, and, uh…you know, stop the gravy train—sorry, I’m being distracted [inaudible] so…
Carol Off: So—
Rob Ford: So, that’s pretty well it.
Carol Off: Mr. Ford, do you think that though there’s not people that who might think that their taxes are too high, or that too much is being spent on things? There seems to be a division in this city. People, in the, ah, you’ve seen it in even your voting: people who live in the more of the core of the city have different priorities than people in the suburbs. So when you stop the gravy train, some people want to see more public transportation, more bike lanes…
Rob Ford: Right…
Carol Off: …others want to see better routes out into the suburbs. how are you going to reconcile that?
Rob Ford: Well the first, well the first and foremost concern with people—is money. That’s the first and foremost concern. So, I’m gonna make sure our finances, um, you know, are well taken care of, and then we can deal with all the other issues, but uh, money’s the first and foremost concern, and, uh, that’s what my uh, what I’m gonna concentrate on.
Carol Off: Well sure, that’s everyone’s concern, but we’re not sure what it is that you’re going to save money on. Are you going to reduce public transportation?
Rob Ford, interrupting: Well I just told you that I’m gonna get rid of the sixty-dollar car registration tax and land transfer tax, so, um, maybe I’m not making myself clear, but I’m gonna get rid of the sixty-dollar car registration tax and land transfer tax. And we’re gonna stop the wasteful spending, and not have $12,000 retirement parties, and you know, all the other nonsense that’s been going on for seven years.
Carol Off: Um—
Rob Ford, interrupting: Anyways, I gotta let you go here. And, uh…
Carol Off: Well, can I ask you about public transportation before you go?
Rob Ford: Pardon me? I can’t talk to you right now—I’m really, I’m on a really tight schedule, so I hate to be rude, but I gotta let you go, and we can chat another time. Really nice talking to you, all the best, buh-bye.
Thanks to the dozens of people who sent this in.


  • http://undefined Quin

    This audio *needs* a YouTube animation. CBC, please let’s have a license.

  • http://undefined Moonmoth

    And THOSE are *brilliant* words emananting from the person elected to represent and lead Toronto for the next 4 years. He can’t even string a few words together, people knew all along public speaking was not a forte. But I guess that doesn’t matter in the *new* Toronto, to 380,000+ voters at least.
    I have lost all faith in Torontonians.

  • http://undefined Tea Oh!

    Augh! While everyone thought those simple messages were part of a brilliant campaign psychology composed of slogans, quips and media made sound bites … it turns out is was actually all the plan there is. According to today’s headlines in the Toronto Star, he plans on getting rid of the vehicle registration tax and land transfer tax in the first council meeting. Apparently, for the rest of the four years, he plans on twiddling his thumbs, having thought no further.
    I’m so excited to have moved to this city. *cough*

  • http://undefined rabblerabble

    Mayor Rob Ford: Putting the ‘it happens’ in As it Happens since Monday.

  • http://undefined avp77

    Like the previous ‘scandals’, this sort of thing will probably only help Rob Ford, since ‘average people’ hate the CBC even more than bike lanes and vehicle registration fees. If only our mayor-elect was smoking a joint during the interview, maybe while crunching on a bag of chips (and not those fancy expensive kettle chips either) his approval rating would be around 90%!

  • Nicole Villeneuve

    I really like “what, I don’t care [laughs]” the best. ~*FoRd LoLz*~

  • http://undefined steve

    There is a bit at the end were Carol Off explains this was a planned interview. Rob Ford agreed to the time. He choose the place.

  • http://undefined torontothegreat

    So let me get this straight. His first priority is to get rid of 2 taxes THEN figure out the finances of the city? Isn’t that cart before the horse?
    Also, if his priority is to get our finances in order, why on earth would he elimated 2 taxes first and foremost?
    P.S. That was more painful to read than it was to listen. Thanks Torontoist.

  • accozzaglia

    I’m Torontonian. Stick it.

  • Val Dodge

    I’m convinced that he didn’t even realize he was giving an interview; it sounded like he thought he was talking to Jane Random Constituent who’d called him up to ask about gravy trains. Ford is not exactly renowned for his attention to detail, but he is well-known for personally answering a jillion phone calls a day. With a daily grind like that, who has time for, you know, remembering pointless stuff that your communications director tells you about and stuff.

  • Kevin Bracken

    Want an animation?
    Ask and you shall receive!

  • tapesonthefloor

    Somewhere in this world there’s a matching Karl Rove clone who missed his calling.

  • Paul Kishimoto

    Begging further questions:

    • Does he have a communications director?
    • Does he know he needs one?
    • Is he capable of appreciating why he needs one?
    • Can council, for the city’s sake, assign him one anyway?
  • Michael Brown

    Does a football coach need a communications director? That seems like a lot of gravy to me…Ford knows what he wants…he is making it clear…he is going to scrap those two taxes and you know…. stop the gravy train….why does he need a communications director? It’s all about the gravy…and the gravy has got to stop…

  • http://undefined David Toronto

    Can you imagine him having to address CNN or
    CBC News during a crisis like Lastman did with
    Can you imagine him giving a keynote address
    to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities
    or other august body?
    Cringeworthy, isn’t it?

  • http://undefined Darren

    That was brilliant and entirely deliberate. Translation: “Fuck you, CBC.” He’s certainly not stupid; the indignation it triggers in some will be balanced by the utter euphoria felt by many others.

  • http://undefined Jane Random

    Not really. Canadians gave Jean Chretien a microphone, no?

  • http://undefined Mr. Palmer

    Don’t drag weed and snacks into this…

  • Kevin Bracken

    It’s true. He is one of those who, if a federal politician, would try to de-fund CBC for their left-wing bias.

  • accozzaglia

    If he’s not stupid, then I cannot wait to see how he’ll smartly manage the executive operations of this corporation called the City of Toronto. I’ll watch for the bond rating as one index of his performance.

  • http://undefined David Toronto

    Chretien had a brain behind his words
    and Ford can barely stitch together a
    sentence let alone express an intelligent

  • http://undefined Darren

    I don’t know anything about finance; are cities really rated like that?

  • accozzaglia


  • accozzaglia

    Further, I would venture to deduce that most of Ford’s voting base aren’t even aware of this or its direct relevance to the case he made to seek the mayoralty. This matters perhaps as much, if not more, than other indexable indicators verifying the well-being of the city.
    Based on Moody’s 2010 rating, some “gravy train” there has been. :P

  • accozzaglia

    More about the Moody’s credit rating system, generally. Toronto’s rating is just one below the very highest.

  • accozzaglia

    I think this could readily be filed under “Passive-aggressive Techniques for the Radio,” although its utility in 2010 may be somewhat limited.

  • http://undefined Jane Random

    Well said. It seems like a lot of the people who are complaining about Ford would prefer to have a Mayor that they can have a conversation about John Raulston Saul’s latest book at a cocktail party over a glass of white wine. (The party of course, would be publicly funded). After all, isn’t THAT what makes a great Mayor???

  • http://undefined Jane Random

    ‘average people’??? Classy…

  • http://undefined Jane Random

    Yes, I saw “the brain” behind Chretien when he punched that guy…

  • http://undefined avp77

    I meant ‘average people’ as in ‘everyday people’ or ‘common people’, or expressions to that effect. I didn’t realize that ‘average people’ was an un-classy expression :\

  • http://undefined Moonmoth

    I know you voted for Ford accozzaglia. The least you can do is admit it.

  • http://undefined Halfwit

    You guys are unreal. The guy takes one of the 150 calls he ANSWERS each day, granted as someone said he may have been the one to set up the interview time, but can’t anyone cut him some slack on this one?? He was running a practice with a bunch of high school kids TWO DAYS AFTER THE ELECTION!!! Oh well…I guess people need something to bitch about until he unveils his “melt down the streetcar tracks for scrap while the price of steel is at a record high” campaign.
    Gimme a break.

  • http://undefined Moonmoth

    You suckers voted for him. Why are you complaining – he’s your anti-intellectual, anti-sophisitcated mayor. You should be jubiliant as he proudly displays his ignorance. It was precisely that which got him elected.

  • qviri

    Not a bad attempt, really, but nevertheless obvious troll is obvious. Someone who knows John Ralston Saul’s name would go for something much subtler than the blatant false dichotomy you presented in your post.

  • qviri

    I’ve been thinking about this and I can’t decide which concerns me more: voting for someone who will not make the distinction between cutting expenditures and cutting revenues, or voting for someone who cannot make that distinction.

  • accozzaglia

    1) I was not eligible to vote in this election cycle.
    2) If I could have voted, Pants would have had mine, irrespective of his certain loss.

  • http://undefined Moonmoth

    What are you 17 or something.

  • qviri

    But what about Hanlon’s razor?

  • accozzaglia

    I’m a dirty immigrant — the kind Flounder wants less of in Toronto.

  • http://undefined Jane Random

    I think we can all agree that it was a ridiculous interview due to the fact that his priority at that moment in time was not the interview. Instead he was giving his unpaid, free time to volunteer as a football coach. The kids were more important to him than the CBC interview. I think that was obvious. It appears he is too busy working and volunteering. I did not hear the interview myself, but a good journalist should have realized that he was coaching the kids and given him kudos for it.

  • accozzaglia

    Well, no, we all cannot agree to your assessment, and it would be arrogant to presume that we all did.
    If he was busy, then the scheduled interview should have been cancelled by either him or his secretary — which is the purview of his brother, Doug. Typically in radio interviews, the person to initiate the call is the producer, who then hands it over to the interviewer. Rob would have spoken to the producer just before Carol did.
    Better yet, it was Rob’s responsibility to electively decline the interview in the first place, as is often regular practice when an interviewee will not be available or interested to speak.
    Do yourself a favour and listen to the remarkably short interview.

  • http://undefined Jane Random

    Thanks, I am familiar with the process and have first hand experience with the media.
    You’re right, he should have hung up the phone and not taken the interview as obviously his mind was on the game and NOT on the interview. Does this warrant an attack on his ability to manage a small city?
    I just think it’s ridiculous to assume that this will make him a bad mayor. I personally didn’t vote for Mr. Ford, but I do not understand where this attack on him is coming from.
    Do people really just want a mayor that can “talk the talk”? Even if they get nothing done, screw up the transit system, constantly jet off to other countries, etc. – so long as they look good and speak well. Is that what matters? Should we attack someone who works hard, gets stuff done, volunteers with children and cares less about media interviews and schmoozing at cocktail parties because he over extended himself and tried to take a phone interview while volunteering as a football coach?

  • accozzaglia

    Does this warrant an attack on his ability to manage a small city?

    When the scrutiny afforded to current and prior mayors by oppositional opinions is focussed on the mayor-elect, and when those figures are publicly and electorally charged with representing the public interest of the municipality, the answer is yes — particularly when said public figure is publicly perceived as dodging or avoiding direct management before the Fourth Estate.
    Ford is in the big leagues now. He will have to get used to this degree of criticism. Miller’s shoe of the last seven years is now being fitted for Ford’s foot, and the noted criticism by Miller’s opponents will, tables turned, reflect the noted criticism by Ford’s opponents.

  • http://undefined Jane Random

    Let’s be realistic, Mayor of Toronto, is hardly “the big leagues”. In the real world, the Mayor of Toronto has very little power. Miller’s shoes are not hard to fill…
    Of course, anyone in a public position is subject to criticism, but we’re not talking about a decision Mr. Ford made or even an opinion he has. The guy was simply multi-tasking and wasn’t focused on the interview. I did not perceive his disinterest as “dodging or avoiding”. He obviously made a mistake by taking the interview in the first place and should have ended it sooner.
    I think it’s unfair to slam Mr. Ford’s ability until we see what he actually does or does not do. Then we can have a pertinent and intelligent discussion about Mr. Ford’s abilities or lack of.

  • http://undefined drum

    There is a public action planned for Ford’s coronation. It’ll be awesome:

  • accozzaglia

    We have ten years of Ford’s public experience to work with and refer back to as required. He is not a neophyte of Toronto municipal governance.
    As for the league: constitutional authority, as you correctly noted, limits the power of municipal governance. Toronto, that being said, was endowed in 2006 with additional self-governance powers considered exceptional in Canadian politics — namely the power of municipal taxation. Further, Toronto’s placement as the nation’s largest city and North America’s fifth largest metropolis would put it in the same echelons as Mexico, New York, L.A., and Chicago. This placement puts Toronto — and its mayor — in a high-profile light that would spare mayors in cities like Mississauga (hi Hazel!), Hamilton, or even Ottawa.
    I think we could go on all day over this. But is it really worth the argument?

  • http://undefined olivefun

    Yes he has a communication director.
    This transcript left out an important part where carol off said the interview was planned and confirmed by the communications director.
    Carol was asked to call this cell phone number at 3pm on Tuesday.
    That is precisely when he was called.
    He set this up as an attempt at some kind of home-spun impression,” look at this good guy, coaching football when the Nation’s flagship news program is calling.”

  • http://undefined plink

    An animated version of this interview for idle amusement.

  • qviri

    But what about the part where he is asked point-blank which expenses he’ll cut and responds by reiterating for the 5634th time a promise to cut some revenue?!?

  • http://undefined linnyqat

    Hmmm. Just saw this comment on the CBC podcast page:

    Rob’s campaign manager was just on CFRB with the truth to this story:
    1 – CBC did not have a pre-arranged interview time with Rob. They had is cell number and called it.
    2 – Rather than let it go to voicemail, Rob answered and was taken aback by the fact he was doing an interview during the game.
    3 – He remained as gracious as possible.
    4 – The CBC has just joined the Toronto Star as one of the two media outlets that the Ford office will not speak to unless an aplogy is issued.
    And Rob’s campaign manager is taking the right approach. Blindsiding any politician is unfare. If CBC really wanted an interview to discuss issues important to the CBC, it should have called to set up an interview.

    I find it hard to believe that Carol Off or her producer screwed this up to the extent they either believed they had a scheduled interview time of 3:00 or that they lied about it.
    I checked the CFRB website to see if I could find a quick link to the interview (seems like a pretty big story, accusing the Mother Corp of lying about having a scheduled interview and “blindsiding” him) but so far nothing. There are a ton of podcasts on the site and I don’t really have the time or sufficient curiosity to listen to them all in search of the interview (the above comment was left at close to 8:00 p.m. yesterday, so I guess you could find out who’s show was on at that point and listen to the podcast, if you cared to).
    Anyway, it will be interesting to see what, if any, Carol Off’s response is to this.

  • http://undefined Andrew

    Boring troll is boring.

  • http://undefined rek

    Not talking to the media is another page out of Stephen Harper’s Guide to Poor Leadership & Flipping the Bird to Democracy.

  • http://undefined linnyqat

    An As It Happens producer has responded, also in the comments section of the podcast page:

    In fact, As It Happens host Carol Off and producer John Perry appeared about an hour later on CFRB with Mr. Ford’s campaign manager, Nick Kouvalis, to correct his mistaken belief that the interview hadn’t been pre-arranged.
    As Ms. Off and Mr. Perry explained to the CFRB audience and Mr. Kouvalis last night, Mr. Perry spoke to Mr. Ford’s communications director, Adrienne Batra, early in the morning. She suggested an interview time of 4:20, and then revised it to 3:00. She gave Mr. Perry a cell phone number for Mr. Ford, and a back-up number. Mr. Perry then wrote a confirming e-mail to Ms. Batra, confirming the interview, the time, and the phone numbers.
    When Mr. Perry called Mr. Ford at the agreed-to time, it was obvious Mr. Ford was engaged in another activity. Mr. Perry asked Mr. Ford if he would like to re-book the interview. He declined, and said he would like it to go ahead. Mr. Perry put the call through to Ms. Off, and the interview proceded.
    All this was explained to Mr. Kouvalis, who accepted our explanation.
    Ms. Off then offered an invitation for Mr. Ford to re-appear on As It Happens any time. Mr. Kouvalis declined her invitation.
    Lynda Shorten Executive Producer

  • simplehearted

    I want to “like” your comment.

  • http://undefined uskyscraper

    So it took all of two days for my prophecy to come true. Except maybe I should have said “junior sports locker room” instead of “children’s playroom”. Ack. Here was my original comment from election eve:
    I’m picturing a future North American Mayor’s conference that goes something like this:
    “Oh hello Mayors Newsom, Adams, Villaraigosa… the seminar on Streetcars, Bicycle Lanes and Urban Development is down the hall to your right. Yes Mayor Bloomberg, you will be speaking at the Reforming City Schools panel discussion afterwards. Mayor Robertson, your keynote address on Property Tax Incentives for Sustainability is at 4:30 pm. No, Mayor Daley, the Green Roof Heat Island Reduction presentation is not until this evening after the black tie dinner.
    Oh, Mayor Ford, hi. The children’s playroom is on the left, and we have left you a pile of red crayons and budget reports that you can draw angry faces on. Would you like some juice?”

  • http://undefined tweed

    as opposed to?

  • http://undefined Rachel Lissner

    I believe Sarah Palin is currently trying to stop funding to NPR. I weep for the continent.

  • http://undefined andrewpmk

    Um, uh, um, um, um, ummmmmmm?????

  • http://undefined Manny J

    Well, football is a very evil “American” sport, like the sort of the thing southern right-wing Republicans do. Imagine that. Coaching an ethnically diverse game, in Canada. No chance of that happening in hockey.

  • http://undefined nredning

    The CBC will have plenty of time to skewer Rob Ford. The mistake made here was in Ford trying to coach and give an interview. He should have apologized and declined, but then that too would have been a new story probably bigger than this one.
    The leading story would sound like this,
    “Mayor-elect, Rob Ford, surprisingly winning despite all of our polls showing a strong Liberal base, is already proving that he will ignore the media. Despite a scheduled interview with Mz. Off, Mr. Ford declined to comment, claiming he was busy”
    “The CBC has since learned that Mr. Ford was playing a game at the time. Now let’s hear some commentary from our own unbiased (insert left-leaning academic)”.

  • Atrinabevington

    I’m not a supporter or retractor of Rob Ford but if someone was trying to get a serious interview while repeatedly being told that it wasn’t a good time to talk – then the reporter should know better.

  • Jason Huber

    It sounds like it wasn’t the best time to talk but I think his message was clear.

    • Robot Machine

      That interview was officially set up with Ford’s PR people. He had full knowledge of when the interview would take place. What you see in that transcript is the case of a man who a) forgot there was an interview scheduled; b) wasn’t informed by his flacks that an interview was scheduled at that time; or c) was perfectly comfortable giving a disrespectful interview to the CBC.