The Rob and Doug Ford Web Show Recap: The War on Trees
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.
Another week, another YouTube show. Rob and Doug Ford are back for another adventure through the internet’s series of tubes, and who knows what this one will bring. Will Rob awkwardly look off screen? Will Doug stare intently into the camera, as if he were a furious cat? Okay, so we know the answer to these questions is yes, but let’s find out the details with this week’s recap.
Rob Ford’s Burn Book
1:00: Doug Ford explains that the reason he and Rob are doing this show for “The YouTube” is that “we have a biased media” that noted media critic Doug Ford claims is unprecedented. “The media will try to twist it, angle it, every which way they can to make sure they put their little spin on the story. But guess what. The people are too smart—they see right through your shenanigans.” The most disconcerting part of this whole message is that Doug delivers it with unblinking anime eyes that suggest he was sent on behalf of Team Rocket.
2:13: Taking his cues from either Letterman or Buzzfeed, Rob Ford announces he will read a list of the top 10 councillors he would like to see defeated: Gord Perks (Ward 14, Parkdale-High Park), Janet Davis (Ward 31, Beaches-East York), Adam Vaughan (Ward 20, Trinity-Spadina), Joe Mihevc (Ward 21, St. Paul’s), Sarah Doucette (Ward 13, Parkdale-High Park). Shelley Carroll (Ward 33, Don Valley East), Glenn De Baeremaeker (Ward 38, Scarborough Centre), Mike Layton (Ward 19, Trinity-Spadina), Kristyn Wong-Tam (Ward 27, Toronto Centre-Rosedale), and Paul Ainslie (Ward 43, Scarborough East).
But wait, there’s more! It appears the mayor bought the expansion pack for Cards Against Council, and he proceeds to list more people he doesn’t like: Josh Matlow (Ward 22, St. Paul’s), Mary-Margaret McMahon (Ward 32, Beaches-East York), Chin Lee (Ward 41, Scarborough-Rouge River), and Raymond Cho (Ward 42, Scarborough-Rouge River).
If you thought Rob was done with his mayoral burn book, you were wrong. He adds that there are others to look at, like Paula Fletcher (Ward 30, Toronto-Danforth), John Filion (Ward 23, Willowdale), Maria Augimeri (Ward 9, York Centre), and Gloria Lindsay Luby (Ward 4, Etobicoke Centre).
So that’s 18 councillors the mayor has singled out for defeat, and together they’re five votes away from a majority on council. If the mayor thinks this strategy will work for him politically, he might be in for a surprise. The mayor’s approval rating is slightly above 40 per cent, while council’s approval is about 15 points above that. And people approve of their individual councillors at a very strong 74 per cent rate, so with this tactic, Ford likely won’t win very many votes, either on the floor of council or at the ballot box.
3:58: Rob explains why he is calling these councillors out: “Enough is enough. They have gone out of their way to ruin Toronto, increase taxes, strip me of my powers, and it’s time to put up or shut up, and I’ve had enough of it. They wanted the war, they’re going to get the war.”
0:34: After calling out Ainslie for supporting LRTs in Scarborough, Doug Ford calls streetcars “the most inefficient form of transportation anywhere in the world.”
1:25: Rob Ford attacks Soknacki for supporting the LRT plan for Scarborough, and Karen Stintz (Ward 16, Eglinton-Lawrence) for flip-flopping by shifting her support from the LRT plan to the subway plan. He then attacks John Tory for supporting fees to provide a revenue tool to fund transit, and encourages Olivia Chow to run against him, too. In short, Rob Ford attacks reality.
2:15: Doug Ford says coming up with a plan to fund subways “separates the business people from a bunch of yahoos,” before proceeding to call those non-business types a “a bunch of cowboys” as well. Doug’s answer? “You go out there, you get private sector funding, folks.” Rob and Doug Ford said this would pay for their coveted Sheppard subway line, have had three years to deliver on that promise, and have not done so. The private sector is not a genie’s lamp.
2:30: Doug Ford says you need to build subway station where there’s density, despite the fact that he supports subway lines along Sheppard and Finch, where there is nowhere near the level of density to justify a subway from a planning or budget perspective.
The War on Trees
0:09: Rob Ford is now reading from a list of things that councillors receive for free, like complimentary Metropasses and free admission to the Toronto Zoo. He says such freebies are an outrage, and he is totally furious. At the end of his two-minute rant, you half expect him to say “The system doesn’t work!” and shake his fist in a fit of impotent fury. Or it’s just election-year posturing—hard to tell.
3:55: Rob Ford, on trees: “I do not support planting 97,000 trees at a cost of $7 million. Would you rather have your road paved–more than one, for $7 million–or plant 97,000 new trees? We can’t even take care, as you saw during the storm, of our existing canopy.”
First of all, 97,000 trees—even though that’s only one per cent of the city’s total number—sounds pretty great, because trees reduce energy use, decrease pressure on our stormwater and sewage system, clean pollutants from the air, and provide oxygen for things like breathing.
Second of all, let’s look at the logic of not investing in new trees because some are struggling. That was the same logic used in the 2010 campaign when Ford said the city shouldn’t accept any more immigrants until everyone here was taken care of—and it’s just nonsensical when applied to our arboreal friends. Should we not allow any more old people in Toronto because some are sick? Perhaps we should halt the maternity wards until the morgues are closed for business?
Or maybe, just maybe, we can do our best to manage both at the same time and be better off for it.
Rob Ford Reads From a List
0:00: This video should be called “Rob Ford reads things.” In this video, Rob Ford speaks about how scheming councillors use their office budgets to pay for their work cellphones. He also rattles off some other numbers: council, for example, voted to not publish two city magazines this year in order to save money. In the time it took to watch this video, I could have watched a YouTube lesson on how to play the ukulele, or learned a special trick about how to fold t-shirts.
0:26: This is the portion of the show during which Mayor Strong Bad reads an email from the audience. This week’s email: “I’m wondering if you want to be re-elected. Why should someone vote for you if you don’t support all citizens? Your reasoning for not attending Gay Pride and then the Pride flag you want down shows me you’re homophobic. My son is gay, and as a mom that hurts me deeply. Thank you. Mary from Scarborough.”
0:52: Rob responds, “Well, Mary…this is about the Olympics, this is about supporting athletes, this is not about your sexual preference. I support our athletes, I support the people who train for years to go to Russia, and there’s no reason I see to put up the Pride flag during the Olympics. This is about being patriotic. I am not homophobic…I take offence when people say that to me.”
Good news everybody, the mayor says he’s not homophobic, so we can all go home now. The Olympics are about more than cheering for a team—despite all the jingoism and corporatism, they’re also supposed to be about a set of values, and if you’re unable to see why those are important and matter deeply to millions of people, then that’s why people are offended, and the Pride flag should be a useful reminder to think about what those values are.
1:52: Doug pulls out the “some of my best friends are…” card, saying, “Do you know how many gay friends that we have, that have worked on our campaign?” Doug pivots, and positions himself as the victim: “You may want to try to bully us into things. That’s how I feel sometimes, Rob. I fell like I’ve been bullied into something.”
0:00 Now we’re on the sports segment of the show, during which Rob talks about Denver Broncos player Orlando Franklin, who is from Scarborough. Ford doesn’t mention that he invited Franklin to be the third wheel on his Valentine’s Day date with his wife at Harbour Sixty. Rob Ford, dreamboat.
So Rob Ford attacked all of his perceived opponents—Soknacki, Stintz, Tory, Chow, the media, and Pride flag —and then his brother Doug said they’re feeling bullied. He also declared war on half of council and explained why he doesn’t like spending money on trees. It was absurd and nonsensical, and at the same time utterly predictable. In other words, it was perfectly Fordian.
One out of five trees.
Thanks for reading, and God bless you, Raccoon Nation.