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The Rob and Doug Ford Radio Recap: Ford City Limits

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.

Hey, there, Raccoon Nation: it’s time for another instalment of our favourite radio show. It would be great to hear details about the mayor’s friend Sandro Lisi, or about the police surveillance plane that has reportedly followed Ford and members of his inner circle around town. Will we get to those things today? Let’s find out!

1:07: It’s a Doug-only show today, because the mayor is in Dallas watching a football game. Can you believe he missed Nuit Blanche for a Cowboys game? I’m flabbergasted. Doug does say that his younger brother will call in later, though.

1:12: Doug says we need to bring a music festival like Lollapalooza to Toronto. 13-year-old me would be so excited.

1:15: Still no word on Sandro Lisi or surveillance planes.

1:20: Doug jokes that during the mayor’s recent trade mission to Austin, Texas, he (that is, Doug) sneaked up behind Toronto Star journalist Daniel Dale and hovered there for a few minutes. “I pulled a Daniel Dale on a Daniel Dale,” Doug says. This would all be fun and games if it were a one-off, but this is part of a continual effort to discredit hardworking journalists. Just because Doug doesn’t have much credibility doesn’t mean he has to malign the credibility of those who deserve it, and who do their work with a lot of integrity.

1:27: A guy named Rob—not the mayor—calls in, and he says streetcars are a thing of the past. Doug agrees, and says that when he was in Austin, he was asked what he thought of its LRT (which isn’t technically LRT, but whatever, close enough). He says that Austin is one-third the size of Toronto, so obviously LRTs aren’t for Toronto. Doug goes on to say that no big cities in the world have LRTs, which is likely news to Hong Kong, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Boston, Los Angeles, Sydney, Buenos Aires, Paris, Madrid, and London. Clearly, these are not World-Class Cities.

1:32: Sean calls in, and he’s angry about the Pan Am Games budget. Doug says the games were dropped in the City’s lap, and we have to do the best we can with them.

1:36: Doug says they’re still trying to get Rob on the line, but haven’t been able to reach him. Somewhere, former press secretary Adrienne Batra sympathizes.

1:37: Doug reiterates his support for an NFL team in Toronto. We should really stop basing our city’s major policy decisions on the mayor’s hobbies.

1:43: Still no word on Sandro Lisi or surveillance planes.

1:46: Nancy calls in, and she asks why the City doesn’t repair all its roads before spending money on new subway stops. Doug replies that the City performs ongoing maintenance on and invests in road infrastructure, which is true. What Doug doesn’t say is that if you wait to achieve perfection in a different area before building rapid transit, then public transit will never happen.

1:55: “I Get Around,” plays the show in, and Doug says that he and Rob certainly get around. As a certain Cessna airplane can attest.

1:55: Doug stresses that he and Rob paid for their own trip to Austin, which is fine when you’re born into incredible wealth. He also says he and Rob are great salesmen, always pumping up the city. It calls to mind an image of the Ford brothers as Death of a Salesman‘s Biff and Happy Loman.

1:56: Walter calls in and says he has a way to pay for subways—putting a tax on bottled water. Doug says it’s an idea. The Ward 2 councillor goes on to say that he would pay for subways by selling air rights over stations that get built. But wait a second, didn’t Doug Ford have over a year to develop a funding model for the Sheppard subway? And didn’t his proposal ultimately amount to crossing his fingers and hoping the private sector would pay? Why, yes.

1:58: Doug says we should increase density at every single subway stop. He’s…right. The only way to justify higher orders of transit is by increasing density, and Doug is spot on. However, many of council’s most stalwart subway supporters don’t support new development in their neighbourhoods. Local resistance is part of the anxiety associated with Toronto’s growth, but councillors shouldn’t play to those NIMBY sensibilities while simultaneously promising subways, subways, subways.

2:05: Tony tells Doug that Rob is doing a great job, and that he, Tony, trusts the mayor with the political purse strings, and that’s what matters. Tony goes on to criticize the St. Clair Avenue streetcar right of way, which he refers to as light-rail transit. It’s not, but Doug doesn’t correct him. Tony wonders whether there’s any way to force councillors to cover the cost overruns on St. Clair out of their own pockets. Doug says he’s upset too, and that all public transit should be underground. Tony says he completely agrees, and adds that we should build subways out to the 905 and then collect the money at the farebox. The show has turned into Waiting for Godot: Transit Planning Edition.

2:15: John calls in, and he likes subways too. He says, “Streetcars work in Amsterdam or Germany, where they don’t have our tough winters,” but not here. He adds that the Canada Pension Plan should invest in Toronto infrastructure. This ignores the fact that the CPP has a fiduciary responsibility to invest in projects based on their underlying merits, and not their location or politics. But John is an optimist, and believes we can build a subway in six months, although the City manager’s report says it would take 10 years for the proposed three-stop Scarborough subway extension. John goes on to say that once we build a subway, other levels of government will want to invest. Doug agrees. John has been sold a world of fanciful make-believe subway rhetoric and math, where we can have things for free and ignore all consequences. It’s sad.

2:17: Michael Hollett, editor and publisher of NOW Magazine and co-owner of the NXNE music festival, is now on the show. Hollett travelled with the mayor and a few city councillors, including Doug, on last week’s Austin trip. The mission was meant to help the mayor and friends learn how Austin leverages its music economy, but Hollett’s presence was particularly notable. His publication has compared Rob Ford to Hitler. But, hey, business is business, right? And Toronto could use another really good music festival.

Except doing business with City Hall comes with a set of rules, and one of them is that if you’re going to speak with the mayor or councillors about, say, a music festival you own, then you have to sign up as a lobbyist. At the time this post was written, Hollett hadn’t done so. It’s the kind of action that NOW would rightly criticize in its pages, but here Hollett is, playing nice with Doug Ford and not following rules he should be familiar with.

It makes sense for NXNE to have a person lobbying the mayor, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be Hollett. Regardless, he should be following the rules.

2:26: It turns out Doug didn’t realize Hollett was with NOW Magazine, but they’re getting along just dandy. “We’re going to work hand-in-hand, Michael, with you and the rest of the group,” says Doug.

2:28: Ken lives in Etobicoke by the 401, and he’s tired of people making U-turns by his house. He wants streetlights installed there, and Doug says he’ll drop by and pay him a visit. Democracy!

2:34: Our next caller, Michael, is calling from a pay phone, because apparently those still exist. Michael is concerned that cyclists aren’t following the rules of the road, and that this hurts cycling generally. What follows is a fairly reasonable discussion about how education and co-operation with cycling advocates would be beneficial for everyone. I check my radio to make sure it hadn’t accidentally gotten knocked to CBC.

2:41: Former Ford chief of staff and full-time cartoon villain Nick Kouvalis is now on the show. It’s the first time he’s been on the show since Josh Matlow was host, and he’s talking transit. He says that the TTC under Gary Webster continually tried to thwart the mayor’s subway plans, and in the background Doug says, “That’s right.” This is not the way to speak about city staff, but there are never any consequences, so whatever.

Before Kouvalis leaves, he gives Doug a piece of advice: “Don’t beat up on council too much—you need their votes.” Kouvalis is absolutely right, and Doug will absolutely not heed this wisdom.

2:50: Still no word on Sandro Lisi or surveillance planes.

3:00: God bless Ford Nation!

Somehow, Raccoon Nation, we went the whole show without talking about Sandro Lisi or the spy plane that has followed the mayor. Fancy that. Also, Rob didn’t call in—but he could have been stuck in transit at the Dallas airport, so that’s reasonable. We also got the rare combination of Michael Hollett and Nick Kouvalis, which has to be some kind of special combo breaker.

4 out of 5 Cessnas.


  • Scrimbro

    >> Doug stresses that he and Rob paid for their own trip to Austin, which is fine when you’re born into incredible wealth.

    I really wish more people would play the “So logically…” game whenever Rob and Doug open their big yaps, especially when they start talking about how awesome they are because they supposedly pay for their own trips and office supplies.

    For instance, take this Doug Ford quote in a recent media report: “I’ll be up front. This trip cost me personally five thousand bucks, Rob probably more. What other guys can promote Toronto like we do – and the rest of the group – on our own dime? I do this day in and day out.”

    SO LOGICALLY… people who can promote Toronto abroad on their “own dime” are, according to Doug, more desirable leaders and ambassadors because they don’t cost taxpayers any money when they travel…

    SO LOGICALLY… we should only encourage the wealthy and well-heeled to run for office, because they are the only ones who can afford to work full-time as a politician *and* pay for all the trips, office supplies and other costs of running a political office…

    SO LOGICALLY… Doug Ford, ever the defender of the public purse, would actively discourage any less-than-rich person from running for office because they would end up costing the taxpayer. But the problem is the whole “one vote per person” idea that gives a lot of middle-class and poor people this crazy idea they might have a right to run for office…

    SO LOGICALLY… Doug Ford is clearly in favour of a law that would restrict voting and representation rights to wealthy, landowning citizens only. You know, to save the taxpayers money.

    Mr. Ford (or should I call you “milord”): What exactly do you have against poor and middle-class people running for office?

    • John G. Young

      And where do you think Rob and Doug’s wealth came from — a label company?
      Yeah, right.

      • OgtheDim

        Its a very successful company by all accounts.

    • Roy Schulze

      You had me until you suggest that Doug would be in favour “of a law that would restrict voting and representation rights to wealthy, landowning citizens only.” When clearly he favours shaming and bullying councillors that dare to use their office budgets. Who needs a law when the cudgel of public opinion will do?

      Also, lest we forget, there is no way that Rob Ford pays for these junkets out of his pocket. At the very least, they are write-offs for Rob Ford, Inc., which was incorporated at his age of majority to lessen the tax burden of inheriting so much money from his father. Now whether Rob actually knows this or not is another question.

    • Steve Fleck

      The reason that both the Mayor and Doug seem to go way out of their way to say that they paid for things like, this trip to Austin, is to score cheap political points with their base of support. Ford supporters will be going, “Wow! See what great guys Rob and Doug are paying for those trips out of their own pocket” On the contrary, it’s actually rather offensive and hypocritical in the extreme, for either of the Fords to be doing that, even more so to be promoting the fact. But Ford supporters can’t and won’t see it that way. If they are on City of Toronto business, then it should be the city of Toronto that is paying for their way.

    • bobloblawbloblawblah

      SO LOGICALLY…….we need to get rid of the Bozo Brothers if sane government is to return to Toronto.

    • Robert California

      Councillors earn $102,000 a year (or about four times the median individual income in Hogtown) so getting elected moves one into the “wealthy and well-heeled” category and previous councils have had a history of pissing away office budgets on such crucial items to the well being of Torontonians as retirement parties, french lessons and bunny suits. We also live in a world with telephones and Skype, Google Hang outs and Facetime ergo it is not necessary to board a plane every time you want to take a meeting.

      SO LOGICALLY if you seek public office and you feel you need to book a meeting honor the office and your constituents by using the phone, skype or alternatives or a portion of your six figure salary rather than continuing a long tradition of public waste.

  • milanista1

    Tying future rapid transit to higher density development. What a radical thought that should have been implemented 20 years ago, like it has in other cities. God is the bar ever low around here when it comes to transit planning.
    Does that indirectly mean that areas that are already high density won’t be getting transit upgrades? I hope not. Sorry Cityplace, Liberty Village, King West, Humber Bay…even East Bayfront. You may have embraced urban life by moving into high density neighbourhoods that are often close to where you work and play,with a reasonable expectation of better transit to follow the massive influx of new residents…sorry about your luck. I really hope that isn’t the case.

    • OgtheDim

      Cityplace has higher order transit. 2 streetcar lines.Liberty Village has 1.
      King West has 1. Are you suggesting they get LRT? Where? How?

      Have you ever been on a 36 Finch West bus?

      Better to deal with the on street parking that is clogging up the streetcar lines downtown rather then considering building something that can’t fit into the streets as they are.

      Seriously, the crying need for upgraded transit is not in the downtown. Its for people getting to and from downtown and for people in the inner suburbs getting around.

      • Testu

        Er, Liberty Village and King West have one (1) streetcar line between the two of them, the 504 starts at Dundas West station. Which means that even with frequent service it’s standing-room only by the time it hits the western edge of Liberty Villiage. It’s almost impossible to board east of Bathurst. Likewise, west of Church on the westbound route.

        With literally dozens of new condo towers opening along this route in the next five years I think it’s safe to say that this area is also in need of upgraded transit.

        And no, switching to fewer, slightly larger, streetcars isn’t going to keep up with the demand in the area.

        • Lavender

          THANK YOU. I take the 504 King streetcar from Roncesvalles (4 stops in from Dundas West station) to King & Blue Jays Way, and I can attest to the fact that service is extremely inadequate. There are simply not enough streetcars to accommodate the number of riders and the frequency of service is nothing close to what it should be particularly during rush hour. Many times I can’t even board the streetcar because it’s too full. The TTC knows this is a big problem and has admitted it’s the busiest streetcar line in the city, but they’ve said they won’t/can’t do anything to increase capacity until those extended streetcars start running, which probably won’t be until 2015/2016 (originally it was supposed to be next year). Anyone who says we should focus on people getting in and out of the city is nuts.

          • vampchick21

            To be totally fair, the last few weeks I’ve noticed the long streetcars on King. Don’t know how long that will last though.

          • Testu

            Honestly I think we need a bit of both. Local service is almost nonexistent in the inner suburbs, making taking transit a non-option for a lot of people out there. The few lines that do run are overcrowded because they’re the only option.

          • OgtheDim

            “Anyone who says we should focus on people getting in and out of the city is nuts.”
            The city being where for you? South of Wellsley?

            Then Andy Byford is nuts.

            Seriously, try going up to the hinterlands of the YUS, where the tribe known as “your fellow Torontonians who actually are probably a lot like you” live and try getting on a subway car south of Finch during rush hour. Takes you a couple of tries.

            The biggest need is the RL. After that, its trying to get a true transit network going.

            It would be great if we could get a higher order of transit along King and Queen. There is obvious need there.

            But, we have allowed the city in that area to build up, and below, to the point where that is not possible.

          • glenn_storey

            so walk up to dundas west and get on at the station. problem solved.

          • vampchick21

            Yes, cause that solves all the issues with surface transit.

          • glenn_storey

            not at all. but it would solve her problem of not getting a seat.

          • vampchick21

            We aren’t discussing how to solve one person’s issue. And frankly, I have the same issue. And I’m not walking from King and Fraser to Dundas West station. Hell, I wouldn’t walk from King and Roncesvalles to Dundas West either. 4 stops does not equal four short blocks. It’s a 30 minute walk give or take. Tell you what, if you are willing to take a 30 minute walk in the morning to get to a subway station or streetcar or bus stop by leaving your home early enough to allow for that walk plus the average length of the transit commute, THEN you can tell some random person on the internet that the solution to all her transit woes is to do the same.

            Seriously, someone walking a half hour to a different station stop IS NOT the solution. Improved service IS.

          • glenn_storey

            hmm. i usually agree with you, but on this one i don’t. 4 stops from dundas west is howard park, i’m pretty sure, which is more like a 7 minute walk.

          • vampchick21

            She picks up at King and Roncesvalles, not Howard Park

          • glenn_storey

            i’m sorry, but i don’t think so, unless i’m reading her post wrong.

            “THANK YOU. I take the 504 King streetcar from Roncesvalles (4 stops in from Dundas West station) to King & Blue Jays Way,”

          • vampchick21

            Ok, I read it as from King & Roncesvalles. Still doesn’t solve the overall issue. Which is all over the city, demand is higher than capacity. So one person walking about 10 minutes give or take to an earlier stop doesn’t really change or solve anything. (and her issue wasn’t that she had to stand, it was that she had, like most of us, to wait for several cars to pass before she got one she could even get on. Again, 10 minute walk not really the solution, now is it?)

          • glenn_storey

            no, it doesn’t solve the overall issue, and i never suggested it would, but it does solve the issue of not bring able to get on the streetcar, which i misread before as getting a seat.

          • vampchick21

            However, all over the city, people are having that same problem, surface and underground. Literally nothing changes by walking to an earlier stop.

          • Lavender

            I start at High Park Blvd on Roncy. When I said “from Roncesvalles” I meant the neighbourhood as opposed to the street. Anyway, that’s 4 stops in, meaning… 1) Boustead, 2) Howard Park, 3) Grenadier, and then 4) High Park Blvd. That is not equivalent to 4 city blocks.

          • Lavender

            @glenn_storey:disqus You’re not getting it. I’m using my own personal example to illustrate a larger problem, which is that if a King streetcar is TOO FULL TO BOARD at the fourth stop in, there is a serious capacity deficit, especially considering that at that point the streetcar hasn’t even reached King and there are dozens upon dozens of people waiting further down on King, at Dufferin, Shaw, Shtrachan, Bathurst, etc. who have to wait for the next 2 or 3 streetcars so they can be on their way to work. Those streetcars are not normally coming up right behind.

        • OgtheDim

          Yes they share one. You want to know how many neighbourhoods the Jane Bus goes through?

          There is not the form or streetspace or below streetscape to give these areas upgraded transit.

          Reality meets desire.

          • Testu

            A combination of the full DRL and improved GO service along the Georgetown and Lakeshore corridors would allow for continued densification in the core (say for example, David Mirvishes new pet project).

            Unfortunately you’re right about Jane, most of those neighbourhoods are SOL for the foreseeable future.

        • wklis

          You are correct that fewer new streetcars is not the answer. That is why Andy Byford wants to exercise the TTC’s option to order another 60 new streetcars on top of the existing 204.

          • Testu

            I can’t wait to hear the Fords’ spin on that.

      • vampchick21

        We need to focus on both. Improve the service downtown and upgrade and improve the service coming in from the suburbs and inner suburbs. The current levels of both are inadequate for the needs. And yes, we do need to deal with the street parking and the excessive amount of cars on the road. And as Testu points out below, the 504 King car is almost full at Dufferin and King, the two stops after Dufferin that are Liberty Village (actually, outside of Liberty Village, since it’s south of King and serviced directly only by the Ossington Bus and only for a portion) fill that damn thing up. Picking up at Sudbury after the bridge? Good luck, cause folks at Fraser and Atlantic are still waiting for a streetcar they can get on.

      • tyrannosaurus_rek

        Downtown transit service during rush hours is pathetic. Taking cars off key streets would go a long way to change that, but in this city the car is king; a more likely (and costly) solution is to increase service.

  • danieljchristie

    Years ago I hung out with a pretty interesting group of cocaine users -musicians, bartenders, ad people, real estate whiz kids. I got to recognize the King Kong Koke thing, that unmistakable (but totally mistaken) sense of impervious superiority exhibited by somebody who just did a couple of lines in the basement washroom of a Danforth pub. It’s all about enthusiasm and positivity and never taking No for an answer. If it can be imagined, it’s possible. That’s what I’m increasingly hearing from Doug Ford -especially Doug Ford. Rob is just too stupid, stoned or otherwise, to connect the dots from imagination to belief in a possibility. “King Kong”? Monkey Doug sounds like he has it in spades.

  • Steve Fleck

    1. If Rob & Doug Ford are such big defenders and proponents of the arts, why do they routinely vote against funding for the arts in City Council?

    2. If the Fords are such big supporters and fans of music, such as they had scene in Austin, why do they play some of the oldest, stalest mots boring rock music of all time on their show?

    • mariapd

      #2 may be because of license agreements of the radio station. Maybe.

  • wklis

    Now that the Ford brothers have returned from Austin, Texas, will their next “field trip” be to “a model community, home to twenty thousand residents, which would be a test bed for city planning and organization”, Epcot (in Walt Disney World)?

  • iSkyscraper

    God this recap is depressing. How can these goons have elected power in Toronto again? My five year old knows more about transit and cities than they do.

  • goodjobs

    Who paid for Fords staff? Who piad for Colle and Thompson?

  • bobloblawbloblawblah

    “Doug says we need to bring a music festival like Lollapalooza to Toronto”

    Hey! That’s an awesome idea! Maybe we can book Jane’s Addiction or the Chili Peppers???!!!!!!

    Cripes. Welcome to the 1990′s, Doug.