Every Sunday, Mayor Rob Ford and his brother, Doug, host a two-hour talk show on Newstalk 1010. We listen so you don't have to.
Last week, Family Day kept us from our favourite political family (the Fords), because the show wasn’t on-air. But this week is going to be different. We’re going to hear Doug’s confident financial know-how, and Rob’s reliably creaky 1 p.m. Sunday voice. It’s going to be so great, you guys.
1:06: Oh no, Rob isn’t on the show! Doug informs us that his brother is spending some time with the family, and Speaker Frances Nunziata (Ward 11, York South-Weston) will take his place. Bummer.
1:08: Doug talks about his brief weekend trip to Chicago with Rob and Finance Minister Jim Flaherty. They saw the Chicago Blackhawks extend their lead in the NHL standings.
1:09: Doug Ford, patriot, says there’s no better sports stadium experience than when the sound of “The Star Spangled Banner” fills Chicago’s United Center.
1:12: We get a mention of Rob helping out kids through football, thus proving we’re listening to the right show.
1:13: Doug jokes about how Chicagoans need to be educated about Canada, as Rob was referred to as “the mayor of Canada” by a stranger on their trip. Doug does not mention that Rob once had his own geography gaffe.
1:15: Doug touts Toronto’s global reputation, and its unbelievable growth. He doesn’t mention articles in the Economist, the Guardian, and the Wall Street Journal, which profile Toronto’s unusual and backwards-looking mayoralty.
1:17: Moderate-right councillor Jaye Robinson (Ward 25, Don Valley West) joins the show as a guest, and joins in a discussion of homelessness in Toronto. Unfortunately, eight homeless people have died on the streets so far in 2013, and the city’s shelters are riddled with bedbugs. Doug chooses to focus on the positives, like how there’s still a four per cent vacancy rate for shelter beds.
1:28: Caller Geena calls in to complain about a homeless person sleeping outside her workplace on Adelaide Street. She called Streets to Homes to get him to leave, but he’s still there. Fortunately Doug, Robinson, and Nunziata show more compassion and sensitivity than the caller, pointing out that these issues are complex and require understanding.
1:38: Mike calls in, says “hi” to the “right wing side of council,” and notes they all voted against Adam Vaughan’s motion to debate homelessness last Wednesday. He questions what Nunziata has done to alleviate violence in her 25 years as a politician: “You talk a good game, but I don’t know what you’ve done.” She gives an extended monologue about what she has done, including trying to get more security cameras and better lighting at TCHC housing.
1:48: A caller complains about young skateboard-toting kids out late at night riding the subway. He wants a curfew to stop this, and surprisingly does not complain about young’uns on his lawn. Doug talks about how Chicago has a curfew, and stops short of endorsing it. But Nunziata provides a word of caution: “The people will complain about being carded.”
1:58: The YMCA song brings in the show from commercial break. “I love those upbeat songs,” says Doug. Pro tip: There’s a great, week-long festival at the end of June where he can hear as many upbeat, danceable songs as he’d like. He should check it out.
2:09: “It’s not a one-prong approach,” Doug says about youth outreach. “We need a numerous-pronged approach.”
2:12: Councillor Michael Thompson (Ward 37, Scarborough Centre) joins the show, and Doug asks him about his trip to…wait for it…Chicago. What is it with these guys and the Windy City?
2:20: Speaking with Thompson about the development process, Nunziata says it takes too long, and she’s right. Thompson, the chair of the Economic Development Committee, gives a classic meandering Michael Thompson reply that sounds decent until you realize it doesn’t have any content. Not said: despite unprecedented development, the City’s planning department has fewer staff than it did 15 years ago.
2:28: Michael Thompson, on city hall: “I hear the term dysfunctionality being used a lot. The word gets thrown out, but it’s not the reality at city hall. Yes, there are some people who throw that out, even councillors who like to pontificate and express how wonderful they are and how everyone else is bad, and how leadership within the city is mumbled. The fact of the matter is things are getting done.”
2:38: Councillor Paula Fletcher (Ward 30, Toronto-Danforth), the former Leader of the Manitoba Communist Party, joins the show. She has a surprisingly good relationship with Doug, and they discuss the street in her ward that was recently named after the late NDP leader Jack Layton.
2:51: Doug Ford, Toronto’s transit Sisyphus: “Are we going above ground or below ground? And that’s going to be a fight we’re not going to give up on, especially for the people on the Eglinton line. Putting tracks above ground out in Scarborough, we’ll never give up that fight. We have to bury that line. Folks, we’re talking about for 50 to 75, 100 years. Imagine standing out in this weather right now, while it’s coming down in a snowstorm, waiting for a streetcar…I think we bring this back, I really do. There’s three or four people who have changed their mind, they believe in underground transit. I have no problem with LRT transit, as long as it’s underground, and you’re not ripping up the streets and destroying avenues like St. Clair.”
2:59: Doug says, “God bless Ford Nation,” to finish the show, and we’re done.
3:00: Today’s show highlighted how out of touch Ford Nation callers were, though Doug and Nunziata kept a surprisingly even keel in their responses. Of course, the show was also insufferable and interminable, but hey, that’s a Sunday afternoon on AM radio. God bless you, Torontoist readers, you Raccoon Nation, for finding the strength to read this recap. Four out of five compost bins.