Every Sunday, Mayor Rob Ford and his brother, Doug, host a two-hour talk show on Newstalk 1010. We listen so you don't have to.
Rob Ford has been very silent since Sarah Thomson’s allegations, but we’ll hear from him on his radio show today. What will he have to add? Will he offer a measured tone and wish Thomson the best while affirming that the alleged incident did not occur? Will he simply choose not to comment and let events take their course? Find out next.
1:07 p.m.: We get a horrifying rendition of “Happy Birthday” from Newstalk 1010 host Jim Richards to celebrate the first anniversary of this show (official name: The City). There will also be messages throughout the show from various Newstalk personalities, like John Tory, John Moore, and Jerry Agar. I really don’t like talk radio.
1:07 p.m.: Rob promises the show will be “more fun than a barrel of monkeys.” It’s one of his favourite sayings, and I hope it’s inspired by this excellent children’s game.
1:08 p.m.: Rob, the eternal optimist, thinks the Leafs are going to go all the way this year.
1:09 p.m.: Rob says he’s tired of this OCAP stuff from “professional protestors,” and Doug is fed up too. They’re getting paid tons of money and no one at the protests are actually homeless, they say. You can disagree with OCAP’s tactics and arguments, but be assured of this: people do not become activists because they see big dollar signs.
1:13 p.m.: Rob, the eternal optimist, thinks Toronto FC has a very good team this year. (They have never made the playoffs.)
1:14 p.m.: Rob Ford, on Sarah Thomson:
I don’t even want to waste my time anymore on this. This is not true. Every single person here…[trails off]
I want to thank the Richmond Hill councillors for coming forward and saying it wasn’t that, and I must have taken four hundred, five hundred pictures, and there was never an issue with anyone else. This lady, in my personal opinion, I’ve always thought, I don’t know if she’s playing with a full deck, from the first time I met her, and I told her that last night. She said, “You’re not supporting my one per cent?” and I said “No, you’re crazy, get out of here.” That’s pretty well how it went. I had a great time. It was a lot of fun. But when people want to make up stories, that’s their prerogative and we’ll leave it at that.
To summarize the story thus far: Rob Ford faces allegations that he was in an altered state at a political event, groped a former mayoral contender, and made sexually suggestive comments to her. In a statement, he then decries her allegations as “crying wolf” and says they undermine International Women’s Day. After Thomson persists in her claim, he goes on his weekly two-hour radio show and calls her crazy.
We do not know the truth of what happened at the CJPAC event, and quite possibly never will, but we can say that the response to this unfortunate situation has been awful. The approach to discussing Thomson’s allegations has effectively victimized her, even if no groping ever took place. It is a stereotypically demeaning, completely by-the-book response, and unfortunately it appears as though the mayor’s office has read this one.
1:17 p.m.: Moving on, Doug says Dallas is a beautiful city, but in contrast to Toronto he only saw one crane. Doug adds that Dallas’s downtown is dead, and you could “fire a cannon off in it” as the city is very spread out and has low density. Ladies and gentlemen: Doug Ford, the world’s most unlikely urbanist.
1:18 p.m.: Rob has Gloria Lindsay Luby (Ward 4, Etobicoke Centre), whom he once referred to as a “waste of skin,” on the show to discuss women in politics. “When I started [in politics] people asked why I wasn’t looking after my children,” she says. Rob is surprised, “People actually said that? Wow.”
1:26 p.m.: Now on the show is the MPP for Whitby-Oshawa, Christine Elliott; the Fords supported her in the last Progressive Conservative leadership race. She’s also the wife of Ford-family-friend Jim Flaherty, who sat next to Doug Ford Sr. in Queen’s Park.
1:27 p.m.: Doug jokes that at his home with his wife and four daughters, it’s women’s day every day. Sigh.
1:29 p.m.: Elliott is asked why women shy away from getting involved in politics. She replies: “What they don’t tend to like, is what they see as an adversarial approach.” Also a deterrent: seeing a female political figure being treated the way Sarah Thomson is right now.
(Worth adding: my notes from last year’s show closest to International Women’s Day do not have them mentioning the occasion. We report, you decide.)
1:39 p.m.: Rob says he wants women to get involved in politics and encourages them to contact him for information on how they can run. This is a good thing to say. It’s also worth pointing out only one of council’s 15 women are on the mayor’s Executive Committee, which has 12 members.
1:40 p.m.: Doug thinks Toronto needs a strong mayor system, and that the mayor should have veto power that could only be overridden by a two-thirds majority of council. Rob objects to this because it would take too much power away from councillors and would not work well in a system without political parties. Hearing Rob go all Michael Ignatieff on Doug and explain democratic principles almost makes listening to this show worth it. Almost.
2:08 p.m.: As a gift for his one-year radio anniversary, Rob receives a certified double Canadian platinum record from Triumph’s Gil Moore.
2:12 p.m.: Frances Nunziata (Ward 11, York South-Weston), who is co-hosting with Rob and Doug today, discusses her early music experience. “I never had the privilege of going to a concert,” she says. “I was very sheltered.”
2:14 p.m.: Rob invites Triumph to play at Ford Fest in his Mom’s backyard next year. This might mean councillor Gary Crawford’s (Ward 36. Scarborough Southwest) band Gently Bent will no longer be the headliner.
2:28 p.m.: Rob starts to read the week’s upcoming events and then somehow we end up at: “Mark my words, we are getting subways… We’re not going to have these streetcars and LRTs.”
2:29 p.m.: Playing off of Rob, Doug fights the good fight: I can’t wait for the next election, when the people of Etobicoke, North York, and Scarborough can speak up.
I believe there is a part of the city they neglected to mention.
2:38 p.m.: With digressions and distractions, we have not completed the community bulletin portion of the show 10 minutes after it started.
2:50 p.m.: Rob Ford, on tailgating outside Toronto FC games: “A couple beers has never hurt anybody.” This is probably not the thing to say after accusations of insobriety.
2:54 p.m.: A Moroccan man named Marhafi joins the show, and it turns out the Ford household gave him a place to stay when Rob and Doug were teenagers. Rob shows off how he can “speak Arabic,” which turns out to be a couple of words that he says loudly.
3:00 p.m.: Doug signs off by saying “God bless Ford Nation.”
Verdict: This show really had it all. Rob and Doug chanted their chorus of support for subways, launched an offensive attack on a former mayoral contender, and somehow fit Triumph into the middle of the show. In a way, it was a fitting tribute for their past year of broadcasts, filled as it was with delusion, confrontation, absurdity, and sports talk. But all of the sturm und drang has real-life consequences—for the reputation of the mayor’s office, for the likes of Sarah Thomson and for the city at large. Talk radio played a significant part in giving us our current mayor, and his own show is the best example of just how flawed and limited the man is.
Four out of five platinum records.
Thanks for reading, and God bless you, Raccoon Nation.