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politics

The Rob and Doug Ford Radio Recap: Freedom of Information

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.

Giddy up, it’s the Rob and Doug Ford show! I’m pretty excited, because today we’ll get to hear about subways and how Glen Murray found a way to choo-choo-choose Rob. Aside from that, it’s totally up in the air, because the mayor has essentially been missing for the past week. Here we go!

1:07: Doug is not in studio, but Rob promises more fun than a barrel of monkeys, which is one of his favourite idioms.

1:08: Rob wishes political mentor and outgoing councillor Doug Holyday well at Queen’s Park, where he has his first session as MPP for Etobicoke-Lakeshore on Monday. Rob’s words of encouragement? “Tear ‘em apart, eat ‘em alive, show ‘em what you’re made of.”

1:09: Rob—who in the past week has not had any media availabilities, has not been seen at City Hall, and has made only two public appearances—says politicians always have to be on call.

1:12: After reading a list of councillors who opposed a Ward 3 by-election to replace Doug Holyday, Rob says he was especially disappointed with Denzil Minnan-Wong (Ward 34, Don Valley East); Karen Stintz (Ward 16, Eglinton-Lawrence); and James Pasternak (Ward 10, York Centre).

1:14: Rob: “The people of Scarborough had a big victory with subways, subways, subways, and more subways!” Given that Glen Murray’s proposal would deliver only two subway stops in 10 years, this is overselling it.

1:18: FOI requests, FOI requests, FOI requests. The people want freedom-of-information requests. The mayor chides Toronto Star staffers for their freedom-of-information requests in the aftermath of the crack scandal, and mentions that he has called them outright liars and they’ve never challenged him on it. It should be noted that the Star has stood by its stories. Meanwhile, the mayor has declined opportunities either to sue them or to defend his reputation in front of the Ontario Press Council. Whose pants are on fire? You decide.

1:20: The mayor repeats his claim that he’s saved the city a billion dollars—a falsehood that has been debunked by Metro, the Grid, and the Globe and Mail. At first, Rob reads a list of items that he says add up to a billion dollars. A minute later, he says that what he means by a billion dollars in savings is what the City saved compared to what it would have spent during a hypothetical David Miller mayoralty, thus undermining his previous argument. It’s almost as though he’s back in a University Avenue courtroom, contradicting his own testimony with specious arguments. Ah, the olden days.

1:25: The mayor brings on the City’s chief financial officer, Robert Rossini, to corroborate his billion-dollar claim. Rossini doesn’t quite use the same terminology as the mayor.

1:27: Oh boy, Doug calls in! More fun than a barrel of monkeys, indeed!

1:39: Rob mentions that he will sit in on the Etobicoke-York Community Council meeting during which candidates for the Ward 3 appointment will be discussed.

1:42: Doug says every single penny for transit expansion should be spent on subways, and he specifies the Sheppard line. If you thought the fight over LRTs was done with, you were wrong.

1:44: Doug calls the Toronto Star the National Enquirer of the North, which gets a big laugh from Rob. Doug then compares it four times to Pravda, the famous Soviet state newspaper. “They want to brainwash the people,” he says. God bless Ford Nation!

1:49: Rob challenges Toronto Star journalists to run for council. I suppose that would be one way for them to get the mayor to answer their questions.

1:50: The mayor says he’s committed to open and transparent government, and then complains about the number of freedom-of-information requests his office gets. “What are they looking for?…I’m doing more media than any mayor ever has.” First of all, they’re looking for crack stuff. Secondly, no, the media availability stuff isn’t true. In fact, you haven’t had a scheduled one-on-one interview with a non-Toronto Sun print journalist since January 2012. If you’d like to give Torontoist an exclusive, we can fix that!

1:53: The mayor blames the Toronto Star for all these freedom-of-information requests. Yet there have been 29 requests for emails and correspondence in relation to the mayor’s crack scandal, and only a couple of them came from the Star. In fact, it’s something that any self-respecting outlet would follow up on to ensure it has as much information as possible regarding a story that’s very much in the public interest. This isn’t a Toronto Star thing—it’s a journalism thing.

1:53: Rob says that, unlike those Star journalists, he shows up and works every day. The cognitive dissonance continues to amaze.

2:00: Peter Caragianakos, owner of Ozzy the dog, calls in to explain that he wants his canine to be appointed to council. It’s the first Rob has heard of the story, and he chuckles.

2:09: Rob: “If you’ve never had Polish beer, you should try it. Guarantee you can’t have just one.”

2:10: Jane is a musician, and she thanks Rob for increasing funding to the arts. (Actually the mayor routinely opposes arts grants, and increased arts funding is a result of the decade-long Beautiful City campaign). She supports the idea of making Ryerson restore the Sam the Record Man sign, and wonders what the mayor’s stance is.

Rob, too, supports keeping the sign. He encourages people to call their councillor and says he’ll arrange meetings to keep the sign up. I imagine this gives a lot of Rob Ford critics mixed feelings.

2:17: For the first time in the history of Toronto, we’ve balanced the books, says Doug. He says that the Toronto Star says that’s not true because of their socialist agenda. Actually, Doug, the City is legally required to balance the books every year. This isn’t a Toronto Star thing; this is a you being misleading or ignorant thing.

2:51: Gary calls in and chants “subways, subways, subways!” I think Gary supports the mayor.

2:55: Rob lists the accomplishments of his administration, including getting rid of homeless people who sleep at City Hall.

3:00 And God bless Ford Nation!

Today’s show was heavy on the Toronto Star bashing, taking on everything from its freedom-of-information requests to its habit of fact-checking the mayor’s consistently false statements. How dare it correct misleading assertions! And how rude to ask—as it is within the Star‘s rights to do—for records concerning the mayor’s crack scandal after he said everything’s totally cool. I mean, he’s the mayor. If we can’t trust him, who can we trust?

One out of five FOI requests.

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