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The Rob Ford Radio Recap: A Regular Guy

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.

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Rob and Doug Ford in the studio. Photo courtesy of Newstalk 1010.

Oh my, The City returns after being off for the civic holiday last weekend. That should mean twice the talk-radio goodness, what with Doug setting the record straight, “Dave” from Scarborough calling in, and Rob coming up with nicknames for all his favourite councillors. Let’s have a listen, shall we?

1:11: After reading a list of humdrum official appearances from the past week, one of which was a stop at Dairy Queen, Rob gets to what we’ve all been waiting for. He addresses his Taste of the Danforth appearance, where multiple independent observers said he was intoxicated. “Did I have a couple of beers? Absolutely I had a couple of beers,” says the mayor. “And if I offended anyone, you know what, I apologize. I don’t believe I did offend anyone.”

The mayor’s non-apology apology doubles as a non-denial denial, showing a practiced verbal acuity—at least when it comes to explaining away bad behaviour.

“Rob and I are average guys. We go down to a festival, we have a couple of beers,” says Doug, who has repeatedly said he does not drink. Also, this is very different from the response Doug gave in March, when he said he’d never seen his brother have a drink. It’s a lot easier to have consistent messaging when you’re honest all the time. Just saying.

1:16: Peter Shurman, the MPP for Thornhill, joins the show to discuss the state of the provincial Progressive Conservative party and its embattled leader, Tim Hudak. Shurman, a former Newstalk 1010 radio host, thinks the party is doing great, and Rob and Doug agree. They agree that Tim Hudak is the guy to lead Ontario and think the Conservatives did well in the recent provincial by-elections, in which the party took one of five seats. This is an odd conversation to have on a show called “The City.”

1:39: Mayor Ford announces that there will be a special council meeting on August 26 to decide how to replace Councillor Doug Holyday (Ward 3, Etobicoke Centre). (Holyday was the one conservative to win a seat during those previously mentioned by-elections, so he’s leaving for Queen’s Park.) Ford favours a by-election despite the $250,000 cost. The alternative would be for council to appoint someone to the seat.

1:47: Mary on line one thinks Rob is doing a “fantastic job” and loves how he’s “human, a real, real person,” although I personally think it would be pretty cool to have a Roomba as mayor. Mary thinks that all of the criticism is really unfair, that Rob is wonderful, and that he should be left alone. I’m suddenly transported back to 2007.

1:48: Caller Rob thinks ousting Tim Hudak would be political suicide, because voters wouldn’t have enough time to familiarize themselves with a new leader. Doug agrees and says Hudak will do 10 times better than Premier Kathleen Wynne or NDP leader Andrea Horwath. Keep in mind that Doug likes to exaggerate, usually by a multiple of 10. It’s his thing.

1:50: John thinks Rob is doing a great job and that it’s okay if he has a few beers at a city festival. He also really doesn’t like his local councillor, Glenn de Baeremaeker (Ward 38, Scarborough Centre), and Rob and Doug share his feelings.

1:56: Caroline, age 70, thinks that Rob is the best mayor Toronto has ever had and that he’s really honest—and that that’s why people are out to get him. She also thinks we should have a by-election to replace Doug Holyday rather than appointing someone, because democracy is great.

1:58: Harrison asks Doug why he said a couple of months ago that he’d never seen his brother have a drink. Doug says it’s no big deal, that Rob will have a couple drinks now and then—but he won’t get wasted. Harrison responds that so long as Rob’s not driving drunk, that sounds okay, and Rob says someone drove him home.

Of course, there’s history here: Rob was convicted of driving under the influence in Florida in 1999, has been accused of making drunken public appearances as mayor, has been urged to seek help for substance abuse by former chief of staff Mark Towhey and former executive committee member Jaye Robinson, refuses to hire a driver, and has denied this kind of drunken behaviour altogether in the past. This is conduct unbecoming of a mayor, let alone one who routinely rolls into work at 1 p.m. Beyond his mayoral duties, Rob Ford appears to have personal challenges to confront, but is being encouraged by allies—like his brother—to put political perception ahead of an honest appraisal of himself. Whatever you may think of the mayor, that’s a sad situation.

2:07: Norm Kelly (Ward 40, Scarborough Agincourt), Toronto’s new deputy mayor, has joined the show. He shares his background as someone who ran for student council growing up, did research for Pierre Berton, taught history at UCC, and was a Liberal MP in the Trudeau government before becoming a Metro councillor. Kelly adds that he was impressed with how the late prime minister could speak extemporaneously for long periods of time about the repatriation of the constitution. To Kelly, that showed the depth and clarity of Trudeau’s thinking.

2:20: Now we have our football segment! Toronto Argos general manager Jim Barker joins the show, and Rob asks him about the team’s outlook and Ricky Ray’s health status, among other things. Rob speaks without notes with confidence and clarity. So, yeah, football is to Rob Ford as the constitution was to Pierre Trudeau.

2:29: Derek calls in and says he’s a big-time supporter of the Ford brothers. He agrees that Hudak should stay as leader and that the conversation about removing him is just a distraction. Also a distraction: talking about how to fix a political party when you work in a non-partisan municipal environment.

2:39: Caller Joe thinks either Doug Ford or Doug Holyday should be the next PC leader, and Rob jumps in to say that Tim Hudak is the leader and that the Fords support him. That said, Rob says brother Doug would make a great MPP and could be the leader after Hudak. Doug has said he doesn’t plan to run for another term on council and has publicly mused about running for provincial office—he might just do it, too, even if only to spite Raccoon Nation.

2:51: A Calypso musician discusses a song he wrote in the mayor’s honour. It’s an upbeat, optimistic tune with lyrics that talk about how it doesn’t matter what people say about Rob, he’s still worth voting for. It’s no Jenny James, but it’s a fine addition to the canon of Rob Ford music.

3:00: And Doug wraps up with a string of questionable talking points like “stopping the gravy train” and “saving a billion dollars” before blessing Ford Nation.

This week’s edition of The City acted as a support hotline for the mayor, allowing our chief magistrate to hear reassuring feedback about his conduct. It’s an interesting case study in how an information bubble is made and how it can be unhealthy to be the person at the centre of it.

Two out of five shish kebabs. And God bless you, Raccoon Nation, you scavenging scamps.


  • bobloblawbloblawblah

    Raccoon Nation thanks you for this valuable public service.

  • AllanG

    Doesn’t drink. One or two drinks? A couple of drinks? A few drinks? At least the Fords are consistently inconsistent.
    Feh – what’s the difference when words uttered by the Fords have no actual meaning.
    Calypso has historically been used as a form of critical political commentary. It’s sad that a calypso artist would use that form in order to boost the status quo.

  • OgtheDim

    Well that sounds like a very pointed “OK we support Tim” game plan.

    I wonder why they didn’t bring in Randy from Lanark.

    • whatafoolbelieves

      Same reason they didn’t bring in Frank from Newmarket…

    • Punned_It

      Can’t wait to hear the show after Hudak loses the leadership (if he does of course). It would be a tough call. Can they slag the party for dumping him, while still endorsing the party? My bet is sure – consistency has never been a strength for this team.

      • OgtheDim

        The bigger question is have they bought into Nick Karvolos’ work to get the current PC party president in as leader? Or do they still believe that Doug will be Premier one day?

  • Dave

    Rob Ford is not a “regular guy”. He’s the f**king mayor of Toronto. That fact alone makes him not regular. Hasn’t anyone ever seen the movie “King Ralph”?

    • Punned_It

      Love that movie, and the comparison is apt indeed. Although, I have to say, Ralph really tried to live up to the job, whereas Rob …

  • blearghhh

    It’s probably too nit-picky to mention that Canada never repatriated its constitution because we never had one that got expatriated then returned right? And that we just patriated it? That’s just me being pedantic yes?

  • Punned_It

    I think we should leave him alone – completely alone – for a month or so. No coverage whatsoever in the media, no press conferences, no scrums at city hall. It would be interesting to see the results.

    • HotDang

      The media scrutiny is the only thing containing this ongoing train wreck. After a month he’d probably have died due to alcohol poisoning or a crack overdose, but not before signing off on every subway plan ever envisioned for Toronto, except for the DRL.

      • vampchick21

        Let the chips fall where they may……

  • Punned_It

    Another sad day for the city I love. I thought once we got rid of Mel, we would have learned our lesson, but apparently not. Her’s hoping we can limit Rob to one term.

    About that billion – where is the information about it? And if we really saved that much, where is it? Why can’t we use it to build that subway? I’d call in with that question, but I’m sure I’d be screened out of the lineup.

    • Dave

      The “billion saved” that they keep referring to is really just hypothetical money. They assumed that if a Miller-esque mayor had been elected instead of Ford and spending had continued at the same rate, it would have been a billion more overall than what they’ve spent under Ford.

      It’s not exactly money saved because it’s money the city never had in the first place. But damn, it sure makes for a good talking point.

      And I think the key to getting a tough question onto the Fords’ show is to convince whoever’s screening the calls that you’re a die-hard Ford Nation cheerleader, then throw a curve as soon as you’re on the air. They won’t answer your question and will probably just attack you personally, but at least you’ll get to ask them directly.

      • matthewfabb

        There’s a few articles out there that dissects the billion dollar claim, notably Matt Elliott in Metro and it’s a lot of real fuzzy math. Millions counted twice in different places. There’s money that doesn’t take into consideration how long it takes (example we’re talking about Rob Ford’s 4 years in office, but contracting out garbage uses the 7 year figure simply because it’s bigger).

        Add everything up and it doesn’t come anywhere close to a billion in savings. Still it makes a good sound-bite talking point, so things like facts are ignored.

    • matthewfabb

      Here’s one of the articles out there that takes apart their billion dollar claim:
      Matt Elliot has written a few other article about it, as well as some articles on The Grid TO.

      Basically it’s a lot of fuzzy math to make an unrealistic claim. So no, that money can’t be used for a subway.

  • wklis

    Ah, the Taste of The Danforth. The cuisine and crowds. That would have been the story. Instead, its Rob Ford. Ruined by Rob’s behaviour.

  • OgtheDim

    I’d be interested to know what the Ford’s thought of Trudeau senior when mentioned by their new deputy mayor….given a certain video’s alleged comment about Justin Trudeau.

  • istoronto

    Ford nation needs to be reminded that Rob has not built a single foot of transit! Every transit project in the works was planned well before he became mayor. Actually, as a councillor, he opposed them all. He is however responsible for costing his beloved taxpayers, nearly $200 million in cancelled transit projects. So while the Fords can trash the provincal liberals for gas plant and e-health waste, they need to be held to account for their own fiscal waste. And Ford nationites, please stop thinking he has reduced your property tax. He hasn’t! It has increased every year since his becoming mayor. The only gravy train is the one leading to his plate of fries.

    • Crowie

      Ford Nation has more important things to do than bother themselves with facts.

    • WoRPt

      I have to say, I’ve viewed about eight city council meetings, and Ford doesn’t usually do much of anything. Still waiting to see the mayor in action that actually involves doing his job.