Every Sunday, Mayor Rob Ford and his brother, Doug, host The City, a two-hour talk show on Newstalk 1010. We listen so you don't have to.
Gather around the porch, have a beer, and turn on the radio, because it’s time for another installment of the Rob and Doug Ford radio extravaganza. This time, they’ll hate on streetcars, the provincial Liberals, and a whole lot of city councillors. So, it’s a normal week. Read on for the full recap.
1:07: Rob introduces the show. “It is hot, hot, hot out there. It’s a cooker.” I’m totally with Rob on this. The humidity is ridiculous.
1:09: Rob wants to talk about “the most ridiculous thing,” which is apparently not the warm weather. Instead, it’s TTC CEO Andy Byford’s proposal to run a pilot project during the 2015 Pan Am Games to see if closing a section of King Street to car traffic during peak hours improves transit flow. Rob says he likes Byford, but there are problems at the transit agency—to which Doug says the problem is TTC Chair Karen Stintz. But never fear, Raccoon Nation, because Rob has a solution, and it’s to phase out streetcars in favour of express buses, which he claims are faster.
It turns out—get ready for the twist—Rob Ford is wrong. Streetcar lines are, on average, faster than bus routes. They also carry more people. In fact, if you were to replace the King streetcar with buses, you’d need to run 50 of them an hour at peak periods.
As writer and activist Jude MacDonald pointed out on Twitter, Rob made his initial streetcar-eradication promise during his 2010 mayoral campaign, and he hasn’t even tried to follow up. Why should anyone put stock in what he says at this point?
1:11: Doug suggests Byford only proposed the King Street pilot project at the insistence of Stintz and TTC vice-chair Glenn de Baeremaeker (Ward 38, Scarborough Centre), who he says is an anti-car person. “It’s just a crazy idea. I tell ya, if I was chair we would be building subways from point A to point B. We’d be making sure we didn’t have the streetcars,” he says, channeling his inner Don Cherry.
1:14: Rob implores listeners to contact Stintz and Byford to tell them this idea is silly. He seems to have forgotten that Byford is supposed to be an independent, non-political expert. Could Slurpy have subbed in for Rob during the debate over former TTC CEO Gary Webster’s firing, where this was explained?
1:15: Doug shares that he, Byford, Adam Vaughan (Ward 20, Trinity-Spadina), and Anthony Perruzza (Ward 8, York West) joined forces to play cricket over the weekend, in what sounds like the perfect summer buddy comedy. My cast: Doug played by a slicked-back Andy Richter, Byford played by Stanley Tucci, Vaughan played by Steve Martin, and Perruzza played by Michael Imperioli.
1:16: Continuing on the sports theme, Rob chats about the Argos preseason. He attended a game on June 20, which resulted in this fantastic photo. Rob adds that he believes Toronto needs a football-specific stadium of about 20,000 to 25,000 to house the Argos, whose Rogers Centre lease soon expires.
1:25: Rob reminds listeners to head out to Ford Fest at Thomson Memorial Park on July 5. Any Torontoist recap readers who like free food, drinks, and need a Rob Ford fridge magnet should go, too.
1:28: Rob and Doug are now discussing their most significant accomplishment in the past year: repealing the five-cent plastic bag fee (which they insist is six cents with HST). Rob says he refuses to pay when stores try to charge him for bags, which proves he’s willing to take his nickel crusade straight to the front lines: minimum-wage cashiers across the city. What a hero.
1:30: With the City’s director of policy and planning for waste services on the show, Rob gripes about $400,000 being spent on recycling education initiatives, something he supported just last week. The mayor seems to think the campaign is just to tell people they can recycle plastic bags, but it’s for all kinds of recyclable materials, and even Doug takes him to task for his small-mindedness. After a few minutes digging in his heels in debate, Rob asks to change the subject.
1:55: Rob lists a series of Toronto festivals happening from now until early July. Notably absent is any mention of a Pride Week event. Earlier today (that is, Monday) Ford surprised us by attending his first Pride event: a flag raising at City Hall. Two things. One, going to Pride events is fun and totally not scary. Two, this doesn’t erase the mayor’s mishandling of LGBTQ issues over a long period of time. It’s good for him to go to events like the Pride flag raising, and hopefully it leads to more. But leadership, when it comes to things like these, isn’t just about events here and there; it’s about an overall attitude and sensibility that tells people they can feel included. For Rob, building that kind of trust is going to take a lot more work. Hopefully he recognizes that.
2:05: Argos linebacker Jason Pottinger is on the show, and the mayor is as giddy as he gets. When Pottinger confirms he’s won two Grey Cups, the mayor says, “Oh, I’d like to see those [championship] rings!” If you’ve never imagined the mayor as Gollum, now’s your chance.
2:10: An out-of-context Doug Ford quote, about himself: “The dragon is coming alive, folks.” Oh boy, is Doug the new Khaleesi?
2:15: Rob bemoans the provincial government’s decision to cut $150 million in funding to the city over four years. He makes some good points, like Toronto’s unique circumstances and needs as Canada’s largest city, but they’re undermined by the slogans he’s sold the electorate for years. After all, when you keep saying there’s only one taxpayer, that Toronto has a spending problem and not a revenue problem, and that there’s lots more waste to be found, then you shouldn’t be surprised when funding problems get dumped on you.
In fact, rather than focusing his efforts on talking about how he’ll beat the Liberals in the next election, maybe he could make an effort to work with the premier?
Oh, Doug has something to say about the Liberals? What is it, Doug? “[The Liberals are] the most irresponsible provincial government I’ve seen in my entire life. Scandal after scandal, wasting billions of dollars—not millions, billions…It’s time for people to speak up against this Liberal government.” Okay. While there’s plenty to criticize when it comes to the provincial government, this may not be the best way to get the premier to relent on a budget cut. But whatever, I’m not a pro.
2:20: Rob is really excited to talk about which councillors would retain their jobs if the number of seats on council were reduced by half, although it’s unclear whether his picks are who he would want to win, or who he thinks would win (the former seems more likely). Doug advises Rob against ticking off half of council, but even he can’t resist the siren song of this combination of fantasy sports. Here are his matchups, with his fantasy winner in bold:
Crisanti v. Ford (Ford does not plan to run)
Holyday v. Lindsay Luby
Milczyn v. Grimes (Either one)
Layton v. Vaughan (Chris Bolton)
Mihevc v. Matlow
Filion v. Shiner
McMahon v. Davis (Justin Van Dette)
Carroll v. Minnan-Wong
Crawford v. Berardinetti
Thompson v. de Baeremaeker
2:35: Doug Ford announces that Councillor Vincent Crisanti (Ward 1, Etobicoke North) will be launching an anti-postering campaign Wednesday morning, which should anger Jane Jacobs fans everywhere.
2:40: Daniel on line one doesn’t like streetcars, and thinks they’re a real traffic problem. “There’s your problem right there. Streetcars.” Rob agrees. He says he thinks it’s common sense to just have buses.
2:42: Cloris calls in. We learn she’s a member of Ford Nation when she weighs in on transit. “I agree,” she says. “These streetcars are outdated. They’re a pain in the neck.” My mom taught me to respect seniors, so no snark here.
2:43: For the first time, Rob says he wants phasing out streetcars to be an election issue. I suppose that’s a better ballot-box question for him than, say, “Crack?”
2:46: Caller Nick says he’s very happy with the job Rob is doing, and he supports reducing the Land Transfer Tax and the size of council.
2:51: John thinks the mayor is doing a great job, but he thinks King Street needs more transit. Rob seems somewhat surprised.
2:53: Sergei calls in, and he says he has a more sophisticated program for the water fountain in front of City Hall, but City Hall didn’t respond to his unsolicited proposal. Doug Ford then suggests that Toronto should have a mini-Bellagio fountain. “Go big or go home,” he says, channeling his inner Donald Trump.
3:00: Yada yada, God bless Ford Nation.
And God bless YOU, Raccoon Nation. This was a very uneventful show. Rob gave some hints at future policy initiatives, but that was about it. Once again, there were no city councillors on as guests, a streak that stretches back to when the crack scandal began. One out of five streetcars.