In a bizarre speech focused mostly on economic accomplishments, the mayor's brother refuses to tackle allegations that Rob Ford smoked crack cocaine in detail.
On Wednesday afternoon, six days after news first broke that two separate publications had reportedly seen video of what appears to be Toronto mayor Rob Ford smoking out of a crack pipe, his brother and city councillor Doug Ford held a press conference to address the allegations.
In a bizarre, nine-minute appearance in which he read from prepared remarks and refused to answer any questions, Doug Ford spent most of his time giving a campaign-style speech extolling the administration’s economic accomplishments. Though the mayor has only devoted about three sentences in total to the allegations Doug proclaimed: “Never has the mayor been so accessible.” As for the allegations themselves, Doug said his brother told him they were untrue, and added that they were the result of questionable journalism. He targeted the Toronto Star for persistently targeting the mayor, and told Gawker its actions in starting a crowdfunding campaign to buy the video in question “disgusting.”
The full text of his remarks:
First off, I’m here today because you’ve been asking me for my comment. I’m here to give you my comments. I’m not speaking for the mayor. The mayor is my brother, I love him, and he’ll speak for himself.
He has already addressed these allegations three times on Friday; I don’t know how much more he can say.
My brother is an honest and hardworking man with integrity, a man who has dedicated his life to serving others. He is the people’s mayor. Never has the mayor been so accessible or cared so much for the issues facing residents. His attention to the needs of his constituents is what has made Rob Ford mayor of Toronto. Now our mayor faces yet another accusation, an accusation driven by questionable reporting from a news outlet that has proven they would do anything to stop the mayor’s agenda. Rob is telling me these are untrue, that these accusations are ridiculous, and I believe him.
I will always support my brother as the mayor of this city, because I believe in his track record. Under his leadership we have reined in out of control spending and turned the fiscal ship of this city around. We have successfully eliminated the budget gap. For a decade Toronto relied on prior year surpluses and one-time found money to balance its operating budgets. In 2013, that ended. Our 2013 budget was balanced for the first time ever, without using any prior year surplus.
We are the only government, the only government in North America, to pass a budget that spends less money year than it did the previous year. Because of our fiscal discipline, international bond rating agencies like Moody’s and DBRS have kept our credit rating strong—even while they lowered the rating of the province of Ontario.
Over the next 10 years we’re reducing our debt by $804 million that we inherited, while spending $1.2 billion more on infrastructure needs. We are investing $2.3 billion over 10 years to maintain our hard infrastructure. We have privatized garbage collection east of Yonge, saving the taxpayers $88 million while improving service to our residents. This mayor negotiated historic labour deals—and I say historic, that’s never been done—that are helping us improve efficiencies and save hundreds of millions of dollars without a single day of labour disruptions. We have changed the culture of entitlement and improved efficiencies and services for our residents. We have seen record years of development. We have more cranes in the air today, more than New York, L.A., Chicago, Dallas, Atlanta, Miami combined—that is combined, 184 cranes, in our city. We’ve had three consecutive years of job growth. Folks, that’s three consecutive years of job growth. And Toronto is currently seeing the highest employment numbers since 1990. I’ll repeat that: we have seen the highest employment numbers since 1990. We’ve almost created…40,000 jobs have been created since this mayor took office.
As mayor of Toronto Rob Ford has put more funding into arts than any other mayor, Toronto is a vibrant and beautiful city were people want to live, work, and play. We are seeing tourism in Toronto with over nine million hotel rooms sold last year—again, another record broken with 9 million hotels rooms sold last year. This mayor is fighting for the little guy, to keep taxes affordable and low. 136,000 in Toronto will get rent reductions this year ’cause we reduced property taxes for their landlords last year, and we are holding the line on their taxes this year as well.
We have come a long way in the past two years, we are turning the corner, and we are now on the right path.
All of this is overshadowed, of course, by the constant stream of accusations coming forward against this mayor. This situation reminds me of a story the Toronto Star, during the election—a story written based on credible sources—that the mayor hit his football players. What could be worse than abusing an innocent child? It turned out that there credible source was disgraced as a serial plagiarizer. The young man himself came forward and said these accusations were completely fabricated and false. Never, never has a Canadian politician or his family been targeted by the media this way. They zealously, and I say zealously, stalk my mother, my children, the media hides in the bushes at my cottage as they did this weekend [so] that my kids couldn’t even enjoy the weekend cause they were in the bushes taking video of them, and harasses our family at home. They have shown that they have no regard, absolutely no regard, for what they are doing to our family, who should have no part of all of this.
I am asking all of you today: please stop. Please stop harassing my children, please stop harassing my mother. Please leave them out of this.
People ask me why did I get into politics? I got into politics to give back my time, donate my salary, and do what I thought was right for Toronto. I never, ever expected that these were the rules of engagement, that we would go through this abuse and my family would suffer.
To the folks at Gawker: what you are doing is disgusting and morally wrong. Giving away prizes to try to give away money to drug dealers and extortionists is disgraceful. When the mayor faces serious accusations, by no means will we be pressured by the Toronto Star to answer their questions on their timeframe. We spoke to our family and our lawyers before deciding how to proceed. If the mayor stopped and held a press conference every time the media made up a story about him, we would never have accomplished anything that we have. If the mayor wants to make a statement his press secretary will notify the media. There is no reason for you to be staking out his house and following him around town.
I also want to say that the story wrongfully generalizes and tarnishes the reputation of Toronto’s Somalian community, a hardworking community of good people, thousands of whom I represent in Etobicoke North.
Lastly, I want to thank the thousands of supporters out there who believe in the job Mayor Rob Ford and this administration is doing. Without your support, encouragement, and kind words, this would be even more difficult than it already is.
Folks, please remember that we will continue fighting for the taxpayers, and remember one thing: we’re down here to work for you.