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Mayor Rob Ford’s Allies React to the Star‘s Story About His Alleged Drinking Problem

The mayor's friends are coming to his defense at the beginning of what will likely be a difficult week for him.

Rob Ford meets the press on November 26, 2012.

The Star‘s investigation of Mayor Rob Ford’s history of possible substance abuse has only been on newsstands for a few hours, but already Ford’s political allies are well into damage control, phase one: deny.

The article, which you should read, cites several unnamed sources, some close to the mayor and some not-so-close, most of whom allege that Ford has struggled with excessive drinking. The Star‘s sources say Ford’s staff members have been concerned about the mayor for more than two years—that they’ve even urged him to go to rehab. The article also recounts the details of two specific times when Ford’s behaviour supposedly resulted in him being asked to leave public places. One of those incidents was in February.

Earlier this morning, the mayor’s brother, Councillor Doug Ford (Ward 2, Etobicoke North), went on AM640′s John Oakley Show, where he denied the Star‘s version of events, saying:

“You notice with the Star, Johnny, it’s always hearsay, hearsay, hearsay. Not only myself—you can call the deputy mayor or anyone. I’ve never seen Rob drink at any event, ever.

(You can listen to the full interview here.)

Throughout the interview, Doug Ford calls the Star‘s credibility into question without actually contesting any of the allegations in detail.

The Globe has a similar quote from Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday, who said the following:

“We do know with Rob Ford there’s a lot of people that are either for him or against him and they feel strongly no matter what side they’re on…And some people are prepared to say and do things to him to detract from him being the mayor. We’ve seen this time in, time out.”

Which, like Doug’s AM640 interview, appears to stop just short of a flat denial.

The definitive pro-Ford reaction to the news came around 11 a.m., when Ford made a scheduled appearance in the City Hall members’ lounge, to present boxer George Chuvalo with a key to the city.

After a speech from Ford about Chuvalo’s many accomplishments (ironically, he runs an organization called Fight Against Drugs, which he started after losing his wife and three sons to substance abuse) and some personal reminiscence from the boxer about his Toronto childhood, a visibly sweaty mayor deflected questions from the press. He said:

“You guys are liars. It’s about George Chuvalo today. Have some respect.”

And then he gave the mic to Chuvalo, who quickly found himself in an awkward position. As a friend of Ford’s family, he was obliged to come to the mayor’s defence—which he did, with these words:

“Listen, the mayor is a good guy. Just keep trucking the way you do. That’s all I can say to him.”

And that, for the time being, is the last word from the Ford camp.

CORRECTION: March 26, 2013, 5:25 PM This article originally said that Doug Ford, during an interview on AM640, didn’t explicitly deny that Mayor Rob Ford has a substance problem. In fact, host John Oakley did specifically ask Doug whether he denied that allegation. The councillor’s response was: “Absolutely.” The article has been corrected to reflect this.


  • iamrobfordsaneurysm

    Ah, so it’s all about George Chuvalo today, just like it was about the Eruv, last week? Funny definitions of ‘respect’ you got going on, Fordy boy.

    • vampchick21

      Oh, but you see, all Jewish folks are business people, so it’s ok! #FordLogic

  • helen

    Be a MAN Rob Ford……admit your an alki and get some help, respect comes when you speak the truth, DRUG TESTING FOR THE MAYOR IS NECESSARY if hes running our city !!!! Fake ass Mayor wanna be……wow !!!!


  • mw

    Doug Ford says that it is all lies. Rob Ford calls the media liars. What would you do if a bunch of lies appeared in a major daily newspaper? You’d sue. Unless of course you were worried that the truth might come out.

    • tyrannosaurus_rek

      The Star and Globe are just lucky Robby’s so magnanimous.

    • Glenn Storey

      if he doesn’t sue by the end of friday, it’s true.

  • dsmithhfx

    The two Dougs and Chuvalo? That’s his “Allies”? Hmmm.

    • tyrannosaurus_rek

      Them and Ford Nation.

  • tyrannosaurus_rek

    In a follow-up, the Star is saying Doug flat out denies Rob has a problem, but still doesn’t have a quote saying as much.

    (This either caught his PR web troll team by surprise, or they aren’t willing to go near it.)

    • vampchick21

      I’ve a feeling they’re all busy on BlogTO and likely The Star’s comments sections.

      • OgtheDIm

        Well they were busy on the Globe comments section but that is stopped now.

    • SteveKupferman

      It’s true that Doug did give a one-word denial during the AM640 interview. I’ve corrected the article to reflect that.

  • ephena

    I am not a fan, but I really hope that if this is true Ford’s opponents will give him space to heal. I’ll gladly spear him for asinine comments like those he made about not criminally responsible verdicts, but mental health is not something I would ever use against someone.

    • Corbin Smith


    • HotDang

      It’s more likely Ford wouldn’t give himself the chance to heal. He has repeatedly shown himself incapable of admitting fault or weakness.

      I don’t think his opponents would be forcing him to stay and do a bad job of being mayor if he offered to go to rehab.

      • rich1299

        Rehab doesn’t need to be residential to be effective, most residential rehab programs are really just intensive information sessions, basically schools where you learn about addiction and various techniques that can help avoid relapses. The real hard work is done the following years, the 1st year of sobriety is by far the most dangerous for relapses. Its the therapy during this period especially that makes all the difference. Treatment can be equally successful without the residential part since all that information can be handled over the first period of therapy, all it would require is perhaps a modification of his schedule making therapy time off limits for other work. Ford in theory at least if he were willing, could do both work and treatment.

        However its not uncommon at all for binge drinkers to have a hard time accepting they have a drinking problem since they don’t drink every day since technically they’re not physically addicted to alcohol like heavy daily drinkers, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a drinking problem and a serious health problem that’s causing serious damage to their bodies.

  • JPR

    Rob Ford’s problem is that he’s Rob Ford – that pretty much sums it up. Although the Star might want to throw a bone to other pubs once and a while to get some corroboration.

    • dsmithhfx

      He’s been spotted in other pubs?

      • Whitebox

        Pubs, drive-throughs, hockey, arenas, public events.

  • OgtheDim

    So the Globe suddenly discovered that people are not nice to each other on their comment sections…but only the Rob Ford based ones.

    “Comments have been closed on this story because an overwhelming number
    of readers were making offensive statements about other commenters
    and/or the individual or individuals mentioned in the story. That kind
    of behaviour is a breach of our commenting policy, and so the comment
    function has been turned off. We appreciate your understanding.”

    Somebody is afraid of being sued.

    • dsmithhfx

      They do it with some frequency (and not just for Ford), they seem to lack the staff/policy/wits to really cope with online comments on a rational basis, but then very few do.

      • OgtheDim

        Really? Cause I plow through the politics, culture, tech, sports and news comments all the time, and the only other articles I’ve seen them close down are ones where its before the courts, or Margaret Wente.

        • dsmithhfx

          Well, I dunno. I go much less frequently since a) it got paywalled* and b) it got swamped by trolls. So I can’t say I really care either way. They could put more effort into preventing rapid repeat-posting, ban abusers by ip and such, if they wanted to. Their abuse-reporting system is, well, much-abused.

          *and yes, I know the paywall is easily defeated, but it hardly seems worth the bother.


      If they are standing behind columnists who have plagiarized, then quality control at G&M already went downhill a while ago.

  • McKingford

    Let’s clarify something here: an anonymous report is not hearsay, unless the anonymous source purports to recount the evidence of someone *else* (which these reports do not).

    • vampchick21

      And the original article stated that the sources requested to be anonymous because they feared political backlash.

    • tyrannosaurus_rek

      I don’t expect the brothers Ford to understand words any more than I expect them to understand numbers.

      • Kate Roberts


  • Whitebox

    Mayor maynot have just spotted Rob sitting on a swing in an empty playground, quietly sobbing and drinking a bottle of Listerine.


    It’s interesting that one of the security personnel from the Bier Markt has confirmed some aspects of the incident there. On the Toronto Sun story comment board, no less. Mind you, you have to dig through an awful lot of damage control by his admirers to find it.

  • Paul Kishimoto

    I don’t think I’ll bother to read the Star article, but I will point out that it is not a foregone conclusion that a non-Ford candidate wins the next mayoral election. Each incident like this should make us redouble efforts to *ensure* that he is not reelected.