First there was radio, then a one-episode TV show. Now the mayor and his brother have taken their message to YouTube. We watch so you don't have to.
It’s time for another YouTube instalment from those true detectives of Toronto City Hall, Rob and Doug Ford. Will they explain how they plan to make Toronto more livable, affordable, and functional, as John Tory has? Will they offer dense policy explanations after running the numbers on Excel, as David Soknacki does? Or will they pick a campaign flower, along the lines of Karen Stintz, who recently made the sunflower her unofficial symbol? No, they won’t—because if Rob and Doug chose a campaign flower, then people might stop taking them seriously or something. In lieu of that, let’s hear what they have to say.
Doug Says Things
0:07: We start off with a question from Ford fandom: “Hi, Rob. I have a question for you. Housing in Toronto is becoming more of a problem for the average working person. Escalating housing prices, more demand than supply, and worst of all, the land transfer tax, which I believe is one of the biggest tax grabs around. Is there anything being done to make housing more affordable for Toronto?”
0:25: Rob answers. He says he’s tried to reduce the land transfer tax, but council wouldn’t let him. He does not mention that he campaigned in 2010 to eliminate the land transfer tax, and that this was a completely unrealistic promise given Toronto’s budget constraints. Fortunately, he does not blame math for this, so it has not yet been added to the lengthening enemies list.
0:51: Rob says that our dear email writer has another question: “I spend a lot of time in Chicago, and have seen the spectacular work they have done to their waterfront. They have free parking, sandy beaches, and no industrial buildings along their downtown waterfront. Why is this taking so long in Toronto to achieve the same results?”
1:24: Doug responds to the question, which makes sense because the question totally could have been written by him. Doug says Toronto is number one and we have a great waterfront and other nice booster-y things just short of, “You Plant a Blue Flag in my Heart, Waterfront.” But then Doug Ford’s heart is suddenly hardened, and we wait for his wrath. “We have the waterfront ‘group’ that’s down there, I call them. They’ve wasted over a billion dollars.” Rob Ford, professional protester, chimes in: “Shame.” “A billion dollars,” Doug continues. “On Sugar Beach? A concrete beach with some aluminium umbrellas?”
For those wondering, here are some completed projects Waterfront Toronto has overseen since 2005: Spadina, Rees, and Simcoe WaveDecks; York Quay revitalization; Martin Goodman trail and sidewalk extension; Corus Quay; the new George Brown College building; Sugar Beach; Sherbourne Common; Marilyn Bell Park; Mimico Waterfront Park; Western Beaches Watercourse; Port Union Waterfront Park; Port Lands greening; Cherry Beach sports fields; and Cherry Beach and Tommy Thompson Park improvements.
Projects under development include Corktown Commons, Underpass Park, a promenade connecting Sugar Beach and Sherbourne Common, Queen’s Quay East, the Bayside development, a TCH building with 243 affordable units, and an eight-hectare flood-protection landform (although this needs more funding).
2:20: Doug does what Doug does, which is to throw out serious allegations and innuendoes that he can’t back up: “What they do, they spend tens and hundreds of millions of dollars on their consultant buddies,” he says of Waterfront Toronto. Rob nods solemnly, and says, “That’s right.”
2:22: Doug, as is his wont, goes on speaking: “I came in with a proposal [in August 2011] for the Port Lands alone”—referring to the backroom Ferris wheel and monorail scheme that was widely derided and went nowhere. Rob says the plan was great, and Doug continues: “We have companies from around the world that fly in and take a look at the Port Lands, and we still have the garbage site at the end of the pier. He then finishes off in fine Yoda-ish style with: “The most valuable property in Canada, on the waterfront, and they want to leave it as a garbage site? Just leave it as a mess down there right now, the Port Lands is.”
As it turns out, Doug Ford is incorrect. Waterfront Toronto does want to develop the Port Lands—that’s been part of its plan all along. It does not want to keep it as a “garbage site at the end of the pier,” and it’s trying to partner with private companies. Private companies, which have asked the City for loan guarantees on waterfront projects following the destabilizing influence of Rob and Doug, also rely on agencies like Waterfront Toronto to make those developments happen. The Port Lands doesn’t have basic infrastructure such as necessary roads or hydro connections, and soil remediation is still needed in the area. Really, this is basic stuff that even people who graduated from the Sim City school of urban planning understand.
The Mayor of Toronto Steals Our Hearts
0:05: A new video, a new question. Rob reads: “What proof can you offer that your visits to Toronto Community Housing projects actually make a difference to residents?”
0:15: Rob’s response is to invite folks to tour Malvern, Jane and Finch, and Jamestown—the “toughest areas in the city”—to “see what Rob Ford has done.” Here’s the thing: marginalized and low-income individuals are not props for a campaign, to be used to prove some kind of authenticity or to show off social and political clout. People interested in being white knights would be better off trying out for Medieval Times rather than offering themselves as TCHC tour guides. Maybe, just maybe, what’s needed is politicians who’ll use their positions to find solutions to longstanding systemic problems.
0:35: Rob continues to tout his TCHC bona fides, claiming that the agency has improved, and that he doesn’t let people live in spaces with holes in the wall or cockroaches roaming around. Under his mayoralty, the repair backlog has increased by 30 per cent and the housing wait-list has increased by 20 per cent. Just yesterday, Ford went to Ottawa, ostensibly to ask the federal government for housing and subway money—except he ended up going to a brew pub to meet with a former football player of his and almost missed the chance to talk to the minister responsible for housing (he did later return and joined the meeting with her from 4:00–4:20 p.m.).
0:38: Rob Ford casts Rob Ford as Robin Hood: “I stick up for the poor people in this city. There’s poor and rich, and I stick up for the poor people. These people do not deserve to be living how they’re living, and I’m the one who’s cleaning it up.”
1:00: Doug Ford takes a swing at left-wing councillors, whom he calls “poverty pimps.” He claims that these politicians pretend to support low-income people, but are really looking out for their own gain: “They utilize these people, which is shameful on their behalf, and as far as I’m concerned, they’re a bunch of poverty pimps.”
Rob Ford, Internationally Famous Normal Guy
0:05: We have another question from the class: “How do you deal with being not just a politician, but an international celebrity at the same time? Did all the media scrutiny interfere with your job?”
0:15: Rob Ford, a man Ottawa high-school students go out of their way to get selfies with, whose name has become casual shorthand on American comedy shows for someone completely out of control, says he is not an international celebrity: “I’m an average hardworking guy that goes to work every day, takes my kids out, supports my wife and family, and does whatever I can. That’s what normal fathers do.”
Beyond the fact that Rob’s statement about who he is wouldn’t get through fact-checking at any publication, the manner in which he sees himself is telling. Rob positions himself as being like anyone else, but when it comes to facing consequences for his actions—consequences that anyone else would face for the same actions—he manages to find a way to be exceptional.
0:45: Rob Ford says, “It’s going to be ‘Ford more years’ after October 27.” He keeps a straight face as he says this, which is impressive in its own right.
Rob Ford’s latest campaign videos mentioned none of his rival candidates by name, and featured Sith-like levels of anger and blame despite the fact that he’s the incumbent.
Four out of five brew pubs.
And God bless you for reading, Raccoon Nation.
This post originally stated that Rob Ford missed the meeting with the minister responsible for housing, when in fact he returned and joined the meeting later. We regret the error.