TIME Media

Don’t Count Out Teflon Ford Just Yet

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford reacts on the podium during his campaign launch party in Toronto
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford reacts on the podium during his campaign launch party in Toronto in this file photo taken April 17, 2014. Mark Blinch —Reuters

The Toronto mayor's former press secretary acknowledges the self-destructive behavior of the embattled politician, but says people underestimate him. Ford has beat the odds before, she writes, and if anyone can bounce back, it's him

When he was elected mayor in 2010, it was clear that Rob Ford was not a “normal guy.” But having worked as his Director of Communications and Press Secretary from June 2010 to December 2011, even I could not have predicted how unconventional his lifestyle has turned out to be.

As I have said many times since leaving the mayor’s office to join the Toronto Sun, it was bad, but nothing like what we see unfolding before the world now.

Ford has had his enemies in Toronto politics and the media since the day he entered municipal office. Much of the coverage of Ford has been over the top, with media camped out in front of his office, his home and even showing up at his cottage.

However, he has given his critics fuel for their fire, and all current wounds are self-inflicted. There is really no comparison to the coverage that Rob Ford has received, but that’s because there is only one Rob Ford.

Yet, when Torontonians finally got a real glimpse of who Ford really is, they weren’t completely shocked, and for those who loved him, they didn’t seem to care.

Ford has been consistently polling second in a crowded field for this year’s municipal election. With support across the political spectrum and a loyal following, mostly suburban and affectionately known as “Ford Nation,” it has not been out of reach that progressive Toronto would re-elect Ford.

This week, more audio and video recordings of the mayor surfaced. In the video, Ford is holding what appears to be a crack pipe in his sister’s basement, all while wearing a nearly perfect Windsor knot. The audio was of a very boozy night out at a local watering hole filled with racist, sexist and off-color commentary.

Ford has finally admitted that he cannot continue as mayor and has gone to “get help” at rehab.

It is too early to know the impact of both the latest recordings and Ford’s decision to seek treatment. However, it is not too early to know that if anyone can bounce back from a crisis like this, it is the Teflon Ford.

Ford was never supposed to be elected Mayor of Toronto, a liberal city. However, Toronto is not the same city it was 20 years ago and Ford managed to grasp the attention of a growing class of anti-tax, property-owning suburbanites.

Prior to being mayor, Ford was a right-leaning suburban city council member and harsh critic of his mayoral predecessor, David Miller. Miller was a tax-and-spend, left-leaning downtown liberal. Ford built his reputation as a plain-speaking maverick, but was a lightning rod for being crude, offensive and nasty instigator of altercations with his colleagues. There were drunken stupor incidents even then.

When Ford had his chance to jump into the mayor’s race, he presented a penny-pinching campaign platform that differed wildly from his front-runner left-leaning opponent.

Ford, slowly but surely, chipped away at his opponent’s lead, pointing to massive financial waste in the smallest figures and simplest terms. He pledged to end David Miller’s “gravy train” and elitist “war on cars” and new subway lines for alienated suburbs. Serious observers accused him of missing the forest for the trees, but voters understood his message; they felt his anger; they ate it up.

His strategy worked, he increased turnout and ran huge margins in suburban districts. The “300 pounds of fun” obnoxious councillor from the suburbs was elected mayor with more than 47% of the vote, with his nearest rival in the race trailing at 36%.

Ford’s election-savvy and “helluva guy” reputation could eclipse this latest distasteful flare-up, but it will be a challenge. The best bet is that he opts for proper treatment and recovery time, and sits this election out. However, as we have seen for his entire political career, the regular rules don’t apply to Ford. If anyone can recover, and that is a big “if,” the constantly underestimated Ford is that candidate.

Adrienne Batra is the Comment Editor at the Toronto Sun, host of Straight Talk on Sun News Network and Rob Ford’s former Press Secretary.

TIME Rob Ford

Rob Ford ‘Ready To Take A Break’ And Seek Help After New Video Emerges

Toronto Mayor will get help for substance abuse after another video of him smoking crack appears.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford says he’ll take a break from his reelection campaign and seek substance abuse help. The decision came just minutes before The Globe And Mail released images from a video of the embattled mayor allegedly smoking crack again.

TIME Canada

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford Seeks Help for Substance Abuse

The Toronto mayor, who admitted he smoked crack, will step away from a re-election campaign and seek help for substance abuse, after a new recording surfaced that allegedly captures Ford at a bar making offensive remarks about mayoral contender Karen Stintz

Updated 12:45 p.m. ET on May 1

Notorious crack-smoking Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is taking a break from the campaign trail to seek help for substance abuse problems, his attorney said Wednesday.

Ford’s time out comes after an audio recording (warning: offensive language) purportedly of him at a local bar surfaced earlier this week, where he can be heard being “unruly” and making offensive comments about mayoral contender Karen Stintz. The unverified recording is the latest such incident in the mayor’s infamous record of being belligerent and spouting off in a drunken and/or drug-fueled stupor.

“It’s not easy to be vulnerable and this is one of the most difficult times in my life,” Ford said in a statement Wednesday. “I have a problem with alcohol, and the choices I have made while under the influence. I have struggled with this for some time.”

“He’s doing what I think most of the population thought would be appropriate a number of months ago. At that time he didn’t think he should, and now I think he realizes, so that’s a good step,” Ford’s lawyer Dennis Morris told the Toronto Star.

While Ford’s attorney did not unveil the specifics of the treatment he would seek, the 44-year-old’s admission that he struggles with substance abuse comes after many months of denying he has a problem.

“I think the public realizes that he may face certain substance abuse problems and was not admitting to them. Finally admitting to a problem is the first step to rehabilitation,” Morris said.

Although Ford has largely been stripped of most formal powers he once possessed as mayor, he launched his reelection campaign two weeks ago promising he wouldn’t “back down.”

 

TIME Internet

Rob Ford Apparently Doesn’t Understand How Daylight Saving Time Works

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford Press Conference
Carlos Osorio—Getty Images

The embattled crack-smoking mayor of Toronto gave his hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers the wrong clock-setting advice ahead of this weekend's Daylight Savings Time switchover

And in today’s edition of fun Rob Ford news: the scandal-plagued, gaffe-prone Toronto mayor incorrectly advised his 133,000 Twitter followers to turn their clocks back for Daylight Saving Time, instead of forward.

The now-deleted tweet read, “Daylight Saving Time starts this evening, turn your clocks back and change batteries in smoke alarms.” It was up for about 30 minutes, which was plenty of time for snarky backlash and screenshots of the error.

Soon, a new tweet went up with the correct information:

Seriously, why has no one taught Rob Ford that old saying, “spring forward, fall back?”

To be fair, Daylight Saving Time is pretty baffling. Plus, given Ford’s track record (see: lying about smoking crack and then later admitting it), this slip-up seems pretty tame.

TIME Television

Watch Jimmy Kimmel Pummel Rob Ford

When Rob Ford was introduced on Jimmy Kimmel Live Monday night as the disgraced Toronto mayor who “tripped, bumped, danced, argued, and smoked his way into our national consciousness,” Kimmel immediately pounced.

“Why are you here?” Kimmel asked. “What good could come of this? Have you ever seen the show?”

Although Ford started the Los Angeles taping happy, throwing shirts into the audience, his positivity waned as Kimmel questioned him about his strange antics (with video evidence). Kimmel suggested Ford, who has admitted smoking crack, had a drinking problem and told him that if he was consuming enough alcohol to smoke crack in his 40s, “and you don’t remember it, maybe that’s something that you might want to think about, like talking to somebody.”

Ford threw back his head and laughed when Kimmel said he had a drinking problem. The mayor denied any out of the ordinary issues—in a November interview with Matt Lauer, Ford said that his only problem was his “weight issue”—and said that he “wasn’t elected to be perfect.”

After the interview, a Toronto Sun reporter heard Ford talking on his cell phone saying that he had been “set up.” While Ford’s brother Doug told the Sun that the mayor was “a little upset,” Ford clarified, “No, it was more Doug that was upset. I told him, ‘what are you upset about.’ No big deal. I was fine. There was some tough questions but it was fun. I had a blast.”

Watch Kimmel confront the mayor about his alcoholism below:

TIME Music

Here’s Toronto Mayor Rob Ford Dropping Some Sick Beats

The polemical politician took a crack at DJ-ing

If the whole politics thing doesn’t end up working out, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford — you know, the guy who admitted smoking crack — might just have a future as a hip-hop producer.

At a South by Southwest fundraiser for Toronto artists this weekend, Ford played DJ and laid down some sick beats before a very enthusiastic audience. A good DJ knows how to get a crowd pumped up, and Ford seems to know how to do that better than anyone. So, if his attempt at re-election doesn’t pan out, it’s nice to know he’s got a solid fallback.

TIME Canada

Ford in ’14? Don’t Count Out Canada’s Most Embarrassing Mayor Just Yet

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford Press Conference
Carlos Osorio—Getty Images

Rob Ford was elected Mayor of Toronto by a landslide in October 2010. Even back then — before the crack, the international infamy, a police investigation, incriminating wiretaps, and half a dozen new embarrassing YouTube clips — Ford’s victory shocked many. His reelection may shock them yet again.

When Ford put his name on the ballot, no one — the media, other politicians, many in his own camp — thought he had a chance. He’d spent a decade as city councilor on the fringes, stumbling through one controversy after another. Known to devolve into screaming fits on the floor of council, Ford had few friends. He seemed to have a penchant for sticking his foot in his mouth. On more than one occasion he was accused of making racist and homophobic speeches. “Those Oriental people work like dogs” and “If you’re not doing needles and you’re not gay, you won’t get AIDS” are among his most famous.

(MORE: Rob Ford Ticketed For Jaywalking)

There were more serious problems too. A domestic assault charge in 2008, which was dropped due to inconsistencies in his wife’s testimony. There was the time he had to be removed from a professional hockey game after he drunkenly berated a couple sitting nearby (“Do you want your little wife to go over to Iran and get raped and shot?,” he reportedly bellowed at them). Then during the mayoral campaign, it was revealed that in 1999, Ford had been convicted of drunk driving in Florida. The cop had found marijuana on him that night, although that charge was dropped.

All of this is to say: When Toronto voters elected Rob Ford, they knew he wasn’t a boy scout. Despite his flaws, they chose him anyway for reasons that I believe could see him re-elected in October 2014.

The roots of Ford Nation — as the mayor and his councillor brother, Doug, like to call their base — were actually planted years before Rob Ford ever arrived at city hall. It was 1997 and the province of Ontario was being governed by the Progressive Conservative Party. (Interestingly enough, the Ford brothers’ father, Doug Ford Sr., was a Progressive Conservative member of provincial parliament at the time.) It was a period of aggressive cost-cutting measures, one being a plan to amalgamate Toronto with its five surrounding suburbs. The hope was this would reduce duplication and thereby save money. Financially, academics say amalgamation was a failure, but it nevertheless altered the course of municipal politics in the country’s largest city.

(MORE: Toronto’s Crack-Smoking Mayor Rob Ford Defends Justin Bieber)

On January 1, 1998, the megacity was born. Toronto’s population of 650,000 was now nearly 2.4 million. This left the more urban chunk vastly outnumbered by the suburbs. The first mayor of the new city was a colorful suburban millionaire named Mel Lastman, who had a knack for saying the wrong thing. Sound familiar? After two-terms of Lastman, voters elected a left-leaning councillor named David Miller. Although Miller didn’t run as a progressive. His campaign was centered on a vow to sweep corruption out of city hall. Toronto was still reeling from a $40 million computer leasing scandal that saw politicians and some staff accused of accepting money and favors in exchange for business. Once in power, Miller pushed through a number of policies that were criticized by the conservative faction on council. He favored light-rail over subway expansion. He created two new taxes, one for vehicle owners and another for homebuyers. He championed environmental policy and social programs. After a long, smelly garbage workers strike, Miller was viewed as being soft on public sector unions. The public, particularly those living outside the Old City of Toronto, were furious with the direction at city hall.

Enter Rob Ford.

(MORE: Rob Ford Accused of Paying to Have a Man Beaten in Jail)

Ford was elected to city council in 2000. He immediately made a name for himself, first by his colorful ravings at council and second by refusing to spend his office budget. Ford was, and remains, independently wealthy thanks to his family’s successful label company. It enabled the rookie councillor to pay all of his own expenses. When the numbers came in each year, Ford’s $0 bottom-line always made front-page news. Meanwhile, he began attacking colleagues for their spending habits. Councillor office budgets were just over $50,000. Ford would post their receipts online, highlighting some of the more questionable tax-payer funded purchases. An espresso maker. A bunny suit for an Easter parade. Ford expanded his crusade to “perks.” Free food at council meetings. Free baseball game tickets. City council eventually tightened its spending policy as a result.

When Ford ran for mayor, he promised to stop the “Gravy Train” at city hall. When voters cast their ballot, they were thinking about the Rob Ford who watched out for their money. Not the Rob Ford who was plastered and obnoxious at a hockey game.

On October 27, 2014, Toronto voters will once again decide Ford’s fate. His transgressions have now been expanded to hard-drug use, chronic lying, consorting with criminals and in general, embarrassing Canada’s largest city on an international level. But many of the factors that saw Ford come to power still exist. The suburban-urban divide is still there. Ford’s approval rating (which most believe centers on his agenda rather than the man himself) is still sitting in the 40s. Add to that the fact that with a weakened incumbent mayor, the field of candidates is larger. Ford won with 47% of the vote last time. With a crowded field, he could sneak through again.

All of this, of course, is dependent on whether he can keep his nose clean. Twice in January, Ford was video-taped out at night looking unmayoral. Once at a Toronto fast food restaurant, obviously impaired and another at a club in Vancouver. (Ford swears he was just drinking Diet Coke, although even if you take him at his word — and a big problem is that it’s hard to do that — it doesn’t show good judgment.) It’s hard to imagine residents re-electing a man who is still so obviously struggling with substance issues. But if he can get help, if he can be the man he was when he first asked Toronto to put him in charge, there is a path to victory for Rob Ford.

Because there’s no better story than a redemption story.

Robyn Doolittle is a City Hall reporter with the Toronto Star. She is one of three reporters to have viewed a video of Toronto mayor Rob Ford smoking what appears to be crack cocaine. CRAZY TOWN: The Rob Ford Story, is her first book. The views expressed are solely her own.

TIME Canada

Rob Ford Ticketed For Jaywalking

Toronto mayor just can't seem to stay out of trouble

It appears no infraction, no matter how small, is beneath the freewheeling mayor of Toronto Rob Ford.

Ford was ticketed for jaywalking within hours of arriving in British Columbia, Canada for a weekend visit Friday night, reports the Toronto Star. A flurry of posts on social media showed Ford dancing and posing for pictures with fellow revelers the same night police stopped him while crossing a road linking the towns of Burnaby and Coquitlam, not far from Vancouver. A spokesman for the mayor declined to comment on whether he’d been drinking.

Ford, who admitted to smoking crack cocaine after months of denials, is running for re-election in Toronto.

[Toronto Star]

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser