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.
Oh boy, it’s the Sunday after Ford Fest, so I’m extra jazzed to hear from the Fords, Fords, Fords. Hopefully brother Randy joins too—he was at Ford Fest on Friday wearing his black cowboy hat and shirt with a gold chain—but that’s probably asking for too much. Either way, off we go!
1:08: As Rob and Doug discuss their routes to the Newstalk 1010 studio at Yonge Street and St. Clair Avenue, we get our first mention of the so-called St. Clair Disaster. This is the fastest they’ve ever mentioned it, so make sure your Ford bingo cards are ready.
1:10: Rob and Doug discuss Ford Fest, the Scarborough burger extravaganza that went down on Friday night. Says Rob, “It’s very humbling. We want to thank the people very much for their outpouring of support.”
1:12: Doug apologizes for the long wait in the hamburger line, which he says was close to three hours (I would estimate two hours). For the next Ford Fest there will be more grills to speed up the process, which is welcome news to Ford Nation’s ears.
1:14: Doug criticizes the CBC for not giving Ford Fest its due by reporting lowball attendance estimates and failing to describe it as the largest political barbecue ever for an elected official in Toronto. Shame!
1:16: Rob and Doug do parodies of Rob and Doug:
Rob: “The people came up to me and said ‘don’t give up.’ Straight in the eye. Thousands of people, and they were dead serious. Like, do not give up. So I’m not giving up. We’re going full out. They’re the people, you know, are just ready to go to war.”
Doug: “Those are our type of people, Rob. The hard-working, blue-collar folks that we absolutely love. You know folks, what this comes down to is the social elites, the establishment that have run this city for years, their hands have been pulled out of the cookie jar and they don’t like it. And I always tell everyone that the average folks, like yourself Rob, or the people who were at that BBQ, there’s more of us than there are of them.”
Everyone playing along just hit Ford Radio bingo.
1:20: We go to calls early today, with Bill on line two. He says he knows the mayor has been sidetracked by a lot of craziness, but he hopes he can get done what he promised to do. The mayor then claims he’s fulfilled 85 per cent of his promises, which by Metro‘s calculation is far from the truth. Doug says that the people who are sidetracked are the media. In other news, Torontoist is happy to offer Doug a media criticism column if he so desires.
1:23: Doug, on subways: “We had a phenomenal plan, an 81-page report with KPMG, Dr. Gordon Chong’s report, and guess what folks, they throw it in the garbage.”
Actually Doug, you threw it in the garbage. When the report recommended that multiple user fees and taxes would have to be introduced even in the best case scenario, you happily forgot the contents of the report. And when it came time for council to vote on transit revenue tools, you voted against the same ones the report mentioned. So yeah, Doug Ford, you’re wrong.
1:24: Rob takes issue with Newstalk’s John Moore debunking the Fords’ claim that they’ve saved the city a billion dollars, a talking point that has also been criticized by Metro, the Grid and the Globe and Mail. Even though Rob is categorically wrong, he’s audibly frustrated with what he feels is Moore’s unfair characterization. As if to make his younger brother feel better, Doug calls Moore a “downtown latte-drinking socialist.” Rob says he “feels sorry for that man.”
1:36: Rob says that if Doug Holyday (Ward 3, Etobicoke Centre) or Peter Milczyn (Ward 5, Etobicoke-Lakeshore) wins the provincial by-election in Etobicoke-Lakeshore, he’d prefer a city by-election to fill the empty council seat, rather than an appointment.
1:52: Doug Ford, out of context: “They don’t understand the governance process.” Oh Doug.
1:56: Doug Ford talks about the hypocrisy of councillors who support subways in Scarborough for political reasons, and he’s right to do so, although he’s doing it for the wrong reasons.
2:02: Janet on line one says she loves subways, and sounds like a typical Ford Nation caller. But then she surprises everyone when she brings up last week’s big subway delays and the need for better maintenance and more funding. “You talk about subways, subways, subways,” says Janet. “But who the hell is going to pay for them?” Doug says that they’ll go out—worldwide!—and find a private company willing to build subways. But this misses the point, as those private companies need to be paid, and there’s no such thing as a free lunch.
The point is, if subways were as free as the hamburgers at Ford Fest, they would have been built long ago.
2:08: Toronto Argo Andre Durie is on the show, and the mayor is more comfortable conducting the sports interview than he is delivering any political speech. It’s actually very good sports radio, and the mayor’s passion is clear.
2:10: Mike from Scarborough calls in and says Ford Fest was cool. He goes on to say that people love Rob “because he’s real.” “He’s not that articulate sometimes, but he’s solid. He’s too busy to think about complicated things. Garbage. Clean parks. Policing. Good public housing. Those things.”
2:18: Rob previews the issues of the week, and one that he highlights as ‘huge’ is safe injection sites. Despite the fact that medical research vouches for their efficacy, Rob is opposed. “I do not want drug addicts hanging around our city. There’s going to be a place where people go and shoot drugs and get high…it’s really bad. We want to fight this.”
2:30: Peter on line one disagrees with safe injection sites. He thinks “these people” should be arrested and sent to detox. “I’m against drugs, and I’m against these activities going on in our fair city.” Toronto the Good!
2:36: James on line two is from Scarborough. “We deserve a subway,” he says. “We’re half this damn city.” Scarborough the Good!
2:50: Doug throws out a lot of questionable numbers that he says would have them “building subways tomorrow.” They would not.
2:56: Chris from Toronto thinks Rob and Doug are the best. “You guys are the coffee and the cream.” Chris then favourably compares the mayor to Mike Harris, one of the least liked politicians in Toronto.
2:58: Doug says Rob is doing a great job. “You’re known right across North America,” he says. This is true, although for different reasons than Doug thinks.
3:00: Doug blesses Ford Nation, and we depart for the week.
It was another week of talking points and half-truths on our mayoral radio show, which is to say it felt perfectly normal. But this normalcy just made the unspoken moments stand out all the more. When Rob railed against safe injection sites, no one spoke about the alleged crack video. When Rob and Doug bemoaned the fact that they can’t get 23 votes to pass any one of their myriad plans, neither of them mentioned how they haven’t been able to get one councillor to come on their show since the crack scandal broke. Instead, they offered Ford Fest as a sign of their political vitality. But here’s the thing: you can offer hamburgers for free and you can offer subways too, but you’ll only ever be able to deliver on one of those.
Three out of five whoppers.