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What did Doug Ford just say?

Following the unfortunate comments by John Tory regarding women receiving equal pay for equal work, Doug Ford came out of the woodwork to attack his brother’s potential adversary.

Doug Ford, the Ward 2 city councillor and campaign manager for Doug Ford, criticized the former leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives as “chauvinistic” and referred to Tory as “one of the elites of the 1%.”

For those who may have forgotten, Councillor Ford is the millionaire former chief executive officer of the multinational company his father founded. To call him a member of the infamous ‘1%’ would be an understatement. However, what is most intriguing about Councillor Ford’s comments is that he is a self-professed capital-C Conservative. This is a constituency that has long rejected the language of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Could this exemplify a change of direction in the Rob Ford campaign?

Probably not.

The Fords, while loudly identifying as huge-C Conservatives, have never really moulded policy on a traditional left-right spectrum. They continue to call for lower taxes and smaller government despite introducing the largest tax increase in Toronto’s history and expanding the city’s budget. They continue to express support for low-income Torontonians despite continuing to make cuts to services those same Torontonians depend on.

Such is the contradiction of populism. Perhaps this is why, during the days of their radio show, the Fords endorsed the Progressive Conservative candidate in Vaughan and the New Democratic candidate in Kitchener during concurrent provincial byelections.

However, such language can only take the Fords so far. Under the scrutiny of a full-blown election, Torontonians will see the Fords for what they are: liars.

Despite their statements to the contrary, the Fords are the elite of Toronto politics. They are the inner circle of power.

Whether it is through John Tory, David Soknocki, or someone else, the Fords will eventually be exposed as those willing to say and do anything to cling to power.

Follow Jordan on Twitter at @JordanAGlass.

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WATCH: Doug Ford blows his stack in council defending brother, Mayor charges at opponent

Just when you think things can’t get any more insane in the circus that surrounds Rob Ford, like, you know, the massive protest outside City Hall today, new police files that allege prostitutes have visited the Mayor’s office, and the now doldrum crack cocaine use that Rob Ford has admitted to, things got a little more crazy.

In today’s special debate surrounding Ford’s recent actions his brother, Councillor Doug Ford, blew his stack by repeatedly demanding to know if Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong has smoked marijuana — to the point where the speaker had to shut off his microphone and call a recess.

After this was all said and done the Mayor stood up and charged at Minnan-Wong in a stance of physical intimidation while the gallery cried out that he is a bully.

Minnan-Wong, once a fierce advocate of the Fords on Council, has turned his back on the administration after the most recent slew of revelations surrounding the mayor’s crack use. Minnan-Wong has also expressed some interest in running for mayor himself.

Watch the video and let us know what you think, is this behaviour (even divorced from the context of crack cocaine) acceptable in an elected leader?

 

Follow Travis on Twitter at @TravMyers.

DENIAL: Mayor Rob Ford says he is not a crack addict

Rob Ford addressed the media Friday at 3:30 p.m. to address allegations of his crack cocaine use and the video that was viewed by Star and Gawker reporters.

In a prepared statement Ford, flanked by his brother Doug Ford, flat out denied the allegations of him using crack and also added that he is not a crack addict.

He used the press conference to express his displeasure with what he described as hardships endured by his family as a result of this scandal and thanked his supporters for “calls and e-mails” he received.

He noted that his week long silence was the result of advice from his lawyer.

The Mayor also took this time to continually thank the people of Toronto, along with Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday who he described as the best the city could ever ask for. This comes on the heels of Holyday expressing concerns over Ford’s state and expectations that he may have to fill the top slot should Ford step down.

Mayor Ford left the room promptly amidst shouts of rehab related questions from the press and his brother took to the podium, giving a stern look to the press gallery, and answered a short few questions. When reporters shouted out to correct inconsistencies and factual inaccuracies  in his answers, he stuck to the trope that the Star is after the Fords. He asked that they ask the questions and he give the answers, covering no new ground with the press before ending the press conference.

This conference comes after more than a week of silence from Mayor Ford on the matter.

It remains to be seen whether Ford can recover from this scandal. As Councillors have urged him to seek help, co-operation at City Hall may not be possible for long if Ford remains mayor.

Ford’s silence on crack allegations is about to make Toronto $200,000 more dangerous

Rob Ford, you need to come clean. The longer you refrain from saying yes or no to these allegations the closer the people of Toronto come to giving $200,000 dollars to a group of drug dealers. The clock is ticking.

Right now Toronto is buzzing. Did the mayor smoke crack? Is he in with a group of drug dealers? These are questions that are up in the air right now. The fact is: three journalists — okay, two journalists and one gossip-hound — say they have viewed a video of what appears to be Rob Ford uttering slurs against racial minorities and gays and smoking crack cocaine.

The allegations weigh heavy against you, Rob. Despite whatever vendetta that you and your brother think the Star has out against you there is no way that they would fabricate anything about this, barring a complete and utter bankruptcy of ethics and disregard for the law.

If the people of Toronto are to trust our most seasoned and talented journalists (and one seasoned and talented gossip-hound) we have to accept it as a fact that a video of what appears to be Rob Ford smoking crack exists.

The ball is in your court, Rob, and it has been for one full week now.

Your silence, aside from a few one-sentence dismissals of the pack of journalists desperate to get to the bottom of this, is more than a political or legal move. Right now your silence, Rob, is dangerous.

With every minute that ticks by a new donation is being made to Gawker’s crowd-funding project. As of lunch time on May 23 it sits at $133,291, just a few dollars shy of two-thirds complete.

This money is going to people who are admitted crack dealers; shady men who dart in and out of cars in parking lots at night and live off the proceeds to selling poison. These people are about to be two hundred grand richer.

The things they could spend this money on are easy to imagine. Pouring that money directly into the lowest rung of the drug trade can only result in more drugs on the streets, more guns in the hands of criminals, and more dead bodies.

Rob, the longer you refrain from doing anything the more money the people of Toronto donate towards these drug dealers in an attempt to gain some form of answer to the question of whether or not their mayor is smoking crack.

You need to respond to these allegations by saying something, anything.

If it isn’t true, although the chances of this being the case seem slimmer and slimmer as the days go by, help the city of Toronto like you want to and come out fists blazing in denial like you always do. Will this please everyone? No. But it could help to stop the slow and steady ebb of your former supporters looking for some kind of answer by donating to this fund.

If it is true and you did smoke crack and it is on video, please, please come forward and tell the people of Toronto what you did. Admit that it is true, that you are a flawed man who smoked crack, and beg everyone to stop donating, not for the sake of your political career or your brother’s ambitions, but for the sake of every person who might die of a gunshot or a drug overdose if this project succeeds.

Your claim to want to help the people of Toronto was at least believable before. You did your best to help people who shared your views on subways and garbage collection. Right now your silence is helping no one but yourself to avoid embarrassment and putting the lives of others at risk.

The people at Gawker and the people of Toronto are not innocent in this either. These people are knowingly opening up their wallets to drug dealers and criminals, and in the aftermath of this situation, another summer of the gun or a Toronto crack epidemic, they’ll also have themselves to blame. But nobody holds more cards in this game than you, Rob, and your poker face is a time bomb waiting to go off in the ghetto.

Step up, Rob. If you love this city like you claim, if you want to help people, you will step forward and say something, anything, or the blood of Toronto’s next Jane Creeba will be all over your hands.

 

Follow Travis on Twitter: @travmyers

Toronto City Council – rudderless, erratic and irresponsible

After spending the past week at city council I have come away disappointed and disgusted by some of the self-aggrandizing, weak-kneed opportunists the city has elected to council. Many councillors, who have claimed to support revenue tools for transit, withdrew their support, choosing to protect their political derrieres.

Here’s the background: Toronto has spent 40 years quibbling over subway and transit expansion – mostly due to the lack of funds to build anything. It’s easier for councillors to debate over the lines than to take a stand on funding tools. Over the past few years Mayor Ford has claimed that “efficiencies” and “developers” would pay for the subway expansion. However the efficiencies he found added up to very little and should properly go to balancing the budget with any surplus going to paying down the debt. Developers informed the Mayor that they could not sell condos above subway stations for the $4 to $5 million price tag required to cover the $200 million cost of building the subway stations below. The value of the “air rights” Mayor Ford claimed would more than pay for subway expansion was completely bogus.

Thank gracious we still have Metrolinx, the transit organization set up by the Province to build and expand transit across the GTHA. After years of consultation with transit experts, policy wonks and politicians, they created a 25 year transit expansion plan. But the plan needs to be funded and will cost approximately $50 billion – this works out to  $2 billion per year needed to get transit in the Toronto region caught up after 40 years of neglect. On May 27, Metrolinx will announce the funding tools they believe the Province should use.

This opened the door for Toronto to present direction on revenue tools to Metrolinx and so council instructed city manager, Joe Pennnachetti, to do extensive consultations with the public and create a report summing up what transit revenue tools Toronto residents wanted to support. The report was extensive and the top four revenue tools chosen through public consultations were:

  1. Sales Tax
  2. Fuel Tax
  3. Parking Levy
  4. Development Charges

However, the Mayor and his executive tried to block the city from submitting any revenue options to Metrolinx, in a bid to push responsibility for any “taxation” to the provincial level, where the Mayor’s brother Councillor Doug Ford is planning to run for the provincial Conservatives and could use the issue to further define his anti-tax campaign.

Council over-ruled the brothers Ford insisting a “mature” conversation was needed. Unfortunately nothing even coming close to a mature conversation could be found at last week’s debate, which saw councillors ignore all the research and instead fly off with their own funding ideas and digress into soap box campaign speeches on the need for particular subway lines in each of their wards.

Councillor Josh Matlow – one of the few brave councillors in the bunch – proposed Motion 1.b suggesting council support the revenue tools outlined in the city manager’s report. Unfortunately this led to heated debate that carried on for three days.

The debate was divisive and provided the perfect  opportunity for councillors vying for the Mayor’s chair to demonstrate their leadership skills. But leadership did not appear, and unfortunately the anti-tax chants coming from brothers Ford worked to eventually push councillors away from backing any of the funding tools the city manager put forward.

Councillor Glen De Baeremaeker tried to score points with his constituents by refusing to consent to any transit revenue tools if plans did not change to include a subway in his ward.

Councillor Stintz, who had originally claimed to want an “adult” conversation on revenue tools, yet again compromised her credibility by ignoring her prior support for the Big Move transit plan and endorsing Councillor De Baeremaeker’s demand for a subway line. Not only did she support a new transit map (that seemed to be drawn on the back of a napkin) but she also backed out of supporting the revenue tools that the City Manager, the Toronto Regional Board of Trade, Civic Action and the Toronto Transit Alliance have all endorsed.

At one point Councillor Ford announced to the press “that if subways required transit revenue tools then there wouldn’t be any subways for Toronto.”

Councillor Vaughn created a motion asking city council to support “a surcharge on vinyl labels as a new tax dedicated to fund subways.” This caused quite a reaction from Councillor Ford (who is also the CEO of Deco labels) and Vaughan eventually withdrew it.

But it was Councillor Josh Colle who announced the most conniving and devious motion of the week: to amend the original motion (supporting the city manager’s revenue tools recommendations) and delete all revenue tool recommendations.  On a side note I wonder if the arrival of MPP Mike Colle (father of Councillor Josh Colle) into city council chambers had anything to do with the younger Councillor’s subsequent motion to delete all revenue tool recommendations? His motion’s main agenda was to push responsibility for revenue tools up to the Provincial level, and it would seem that those who voted for it are more concerned about appearances than doing what is right for Toronto.

Such strategic political maneuvering allows Councillors who supported Councillor Colle’s motion to circumvent their duty to the city without being too suspect while at the same time allowing them to honestly claim they didn’t back any revenue tools for transit. So instead of directing the province with recommendations on the transit revenue tools the city manager compiled from weeks of consultations with the public, these councillors simply supplied the province with a list of tools each one of them personally would not support, ignoring the will of their constituents and the research provided to them by the city manager.

This pathetic political posturing was supported by:

Ana Bailåo, Michelle Berardinetti, Raymond Cho, Josh Colle, Gary Crawford, Vince Crisanti, Glen De Bearemaeker, Mike Del Grande, Fran Di Giorgio, Doug Ford, Rob Ford, Mark Grimes, Doug Holiday, Norm Kelly, Gloria Lindsay Luby, Giorgio Mammoliti, Peter Milczyn, Frances Nunziata (Chair), Cesar Palacio, James Pasternak, Anthony Perruzza, Jaye Robinson, David Shiner, Karen Stintz, Michael Thompson, Krystin Wong-Tam

The councillors who stood firm in their commitment to transit revenue tools were:

Paul Ainslie, Maria Augimeri, Shelley Carroll, Janet Davis, Sarah Doucette, John Fillion, Paula Fletcher, Mary Fragedakis, Mike Layton, Chin Lee, Josh Matlow, Pam McConnell, Mary-Margaret McMahon, Joe Mihevc, Ron Moser, John Parker, Gord Perks and Adam Vaughan

These councillors deserve a hefty pat on the back for not putting their political careers ahead of doing what is needed for the Toronto. I tip my hat to each and every one of them.

THOMSON: Standing up to the bully in the schoolyard and in the city

“Courage isn’t the absence of fear but the belief that something else is more important than fear.”

In public school I was bullied. I was the prime target for one freakish girl who intimidated all the other kids. Her tactic was to have her victims ostracized by making up lies and turning others against them.

Everyone knew what the bully was doing but scarce few wanted to challenge her. It was easier to go along with her tyranny than to try to stop her. Her abuse got physical when she punched me in the stomach, pushed me down and kicked me until I was swollen and bleeding.

My father decided that enough was enough and spent a weekend teaching me how to stand up to a bully. He taught me that a bully is just a thug hiding behind bravado. Bullies never gain true courage — the only way to stop them is to stand up to them.

My father taught me how to duck and throw a punch; to make a fist and to close my eyes just before I swung so that I wouldn’t pull back; to use my foe’s weight and balance against them. He told me that speaking out was like a lion roaring, that I could use my voice and words to stand up to her as well… but if that didn’t work I should aim at her nose, punch her hard, and then run like hell.

The following week I walked the halls a changed person. My bully taunted me like before, but I threw her words right back at her. Furious at my audacity, she told me she would punish me after school. By the time the final bell rang there was adrenaline coursing through my veins. I felt the fear but focused instead on my anger.

Outside the school kids had gathered around the bully and were chanting “FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT!” The circle closed around me as she began hurling insults. I stared silently at her, my eyes focused on her every move with my fists clenched and ready to fight.

She threw her first and only punch and I stepped aside. As she fell forward I aimed, closed my eyes, and hit her square in the face. I could hear something crunch.

When I opened my eyes again I saw her on the ground with her nose bleeding all over the white snow. Everyone was quiet. I stepped towards her and she scrambled away. I yelled for her to get up and fight but she was frozen with fear. I turned to the crowd and asked if anyone else wanted to have a go at me. They all backed away.

In that moment I felt powerful. I wanted to hurt someone. Right then I could have kicked her on the ground the same way she’d done to me. Then a wave of disgust passed over me. I felt dirty, like a thug.

The seconds ticked by in silence until I roared that if she ever picked on anyone again she’d have to answer to me. I walked away and held my tears back until I was a block away, but I felt two inches taller that day. I’d found the courage to stand my ground.

Today there is much more education and awareness around the issue of bullying. Kids are informed at school about the problems bullying causes and are taught better ways to deal with a bully.

Recent events have, however, reminded me that school yard bullies often grow up to be adult bullies. Some people never fully mature and they continue on, stunted, pushing people around with their words and actions, and for some reason a lot of these grown up bullies end up in politics.

The most recent experience I have had was with an impulsive bully. Despite the consequences he had a hard time restraining his behavior. His arrogance and lack of respect for women is concealed behind an act of awkward shyness but it comes to the surface when he gets intoxicated.

I won’t forget the look Rob Ford gave me as I stood in the middle of a party, pawed over and speechless. It wasn’t the leer of a horny drunk after a quick grope, but the malicious smile of a bully who wanted to demonstrate that he could have power over me. His courage was fake, brought on by whatever drug he’d consumed.

I missed my chance to punch him in the nose… and if I had it would have set a terrible example to my sons. But I was not going to let him get away with it. There are different ways now for women to roar. Social media provides us a microphone that wasn’t available even 10 years ago. But it is a double edged sword. It can help the truth come out, but it can also spread the worst sort of lies. After I posted Rob Ford’s grope on Facebook, he and his brother used their influence over the media to brand me as a “crazy” opportunistic woman who simply wanted attention. They used my own words – that I thought Rob was on cocaine – against me, because (at the time) it was crazy to even suggest that the mayor would use narcotics. The court of public opinion was not fair, although eventually as the truth came out about the Rob Ford’s drug habits people realized I was telling the truth.

Silence is the veil that enables a bully to flourish. But out voices, if we have the courage to use them, will stop a bully in their tracks.