Rob Ford


Rob Ford the taxman

Toronto city council voted in favour (28-16) to replace the worn out RT line with a subway from Kennedy station east on Eglinton north on McCowan to Shepperd Avenue East. By approving the subway council has cancelled the $1.8 billion LRT it had approved last year, which was fully funded by the province. It is expected that the under ground subway option could cost close to $1.1 billion more than the LRT.

The subway expansion requires the Federal government contribute at least $418 million and that the province contribute $1.4 billion., and the city make up the additional funds with a 1.1 – 2.4% tax increase along with new development charges.   This places most of Toronto’s portion of the additional funds needed for the subway expansion onto homeowners as development charges get passed on to them as well.

Council approved a series of motions to try to limit the cities risk, and asked that the province and Ottawa commit to funding by September 30.

But perhaps the most momentous event of the past week was that Rob Ford has changed his tune from the “No Tax” man to calling for an increase in taxes to pay for transit in Scarborough.  Like many politicians before him his desire to get re-elected has caused him to change his most sacred position. Rob has spent over a decade raging against any and all tax increases, and yet for the past 3 years done very little hard work — while taking credit for the work of other councillors. Without bothering to do a line by line analysis of all city departments, without finding the efficiencies he promised, without stopping the “gravy train” Rob Ford has chosen to embrace taxes.

Some may accuse him of trying keep his promise of subways, while other might point out that he also promised not to raise taxes, to find efficiencies and stop the gravy train – but to whatever people say Rob Ford has grown into a true politician, authentic to the core he has shown that he is not only a lazy charlatan , but also a hypocrite willing to say whatever it takes to get re-elected.

Rob Ford is calling for higher taxes and I can hear Mayor Miller chuckling…



What is Mayor Rob Ford doing while the city floods? Enjoying A/C in his car


With the city paralyzed, flooded, immobile, and soaked it should of course come as no surprise that Mayor Rob Ford is not at the nerve centre of the city doing what he can to get things up and running again. Rob Ford is with his family, without power, crammed into the SUV with the air conditioner on in an attempt to stay cool.

Our mayor’s number one priority in the middle of a weather crisis is his own comfort.

Of course Fordites would respond that ‘he has to look out for his family’ and ‘it is after 5 o’clock’ — but this flies in the face of the concept of being mayor of a major city.

Your job doesn’t end at 5 o’clock.

Your family, albeit without power, has a capable matriarch. This city, on the other hand, has no other head.

Rob Ford has, once again, abandoned not only his responsibility, but his city in a time of need.

Politics in Toronto: Not broken, maybe bent, but certainly cracked

Quite a few people in the Twitterverse and beyond were shocked today by the transit video we released.

It was created by our publisher (and tireless transit advocate) Sarah Thomson who took to Facebook last night to announce that Women’s Post had “the video” and it would be appearing on Women’s Post’s website today at noon.

Supporters of transit initiatives in Toronto and those who see Sarah tick by in their Facebook and Twitter feeds regularly were familiar with the video she was talking about – a video where she sings a cover of Pink’s Just Give Me a Reason with lyrics re-written to showcase Toronto’s issues with securing reliable transit for the city and asking Torontonians to do what they can to support the Big Move.

A little bit silly? Of course. A conversation we need to be having? Definitely.

The video opens with a smoke filled room and a character holding a pipe before a segue into shots of Toronto’s congested streets and regular people holding cards asking for help in relieving transit stresses and commuter problems in our fair city. The message is clear: we need to move past the haze of drug scandals that have Toronto politics in a vice grip and get back to reality. Our city and the people in it are stuck immobile by distraction after distraction and are suffering the consequences of inaction on a daily basis.

What happened next couldn’t have driven the point home any better. Overnight Toronto’s hashtags and feeds jumped to the collective conclusion that the video going up today was of Rob Ford smoking crack.

Their shock came when the video turned out to be a song about transit.

My shock came in the immediate aftermath of the video going live. The message left in our comments, on Twitter, and on YouTube was that this was a waste of time, we need to get back to “real” issues about Rob Ford’s reckless personal life.

My shock was that a scandal plagued mayor has so thoroughly damaged the civic and political landscape of Toronto to the point where the people of Toronto can’t even clearly see that the most pressing issue to us right now, to our children, and to our future as a viable world-class city isn’t what people at City Hall have in their pipes, it is what their circus of distraction is preventing us from becoming.

This week boring machines began working on the largest transit project Toronto has seen in half a century. Unfortunately, the number of people tuned into stories about the Eglinton LRT pales in comparison to the number of people tuning in daily to see an elected official deny, dodge, and destroy politics at City Hall.

My suggestion to my fellow Torontonians is to take a cue from Sarah’s video. Wave the smoke out of your face and move on. Focus on what is important, do everything you can to make City Hall, Queen’s Park, and Parliament Hill work for you by speaking out about transit, urban development, bike lanes, the Gardiner, and everything else that is currently being ignored by the Mayor’s office. While we can waste time arguing over what kind of dust coats the Mayor’s desk it is quite clear that it isn’t being used at all for the municipal issues that need to be addressed.

Taking a stand on the problems faced by Torontonians instead of the demons faced by Toronto’s mayor is the only way we can step forward into the future.

The politics of Toronto aren’t broken, perhaps bent, but certainly cracked. What we need to do now is fill that crack with our voices. Our next big move as a city shouldn’t be into the depths of crack houses, it should be into the communities that need accessible transit, stitching together the tapestry of our city with busses, light rail, subways, proper highways, and bike lanes.

Together we can make it work.


You can follow Travis on Twitter at @TravMyers.

Win a free copy of Mother of Invention

Win a copy of the brand new book, Mother of Invention: How Our Mothers Influenced Us as Feminist Academics and Activists, edited by Vanessa Reimer and Sarah Sahagian. This book takes on feminist theory by inter-splicing scholarly discussion with personal stories and anecdotes and promises to be one of the most interesting reads of the year in Canadian feminist circles, and beyond. Visit Demeter Press for more information.

Enter below for your chance to win a copy of the book. Entries limited to one per day per person.

[contact-form-7 404 "Not Found"]

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.

Toronto’s troubled transit: The future lies with Council and the time to act is now

Last year, Toronto City Councillors led by Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) Chair Karen Stintz reaffirmed a transit plan that allowed the Government of Ontario and Metrolinx to move forward. But lack of action on it has led to mass frustrations amongst Torontonians stuck in traffic on the way to work, packed in subways and buses, or feeling cheated because the transit system does not extend into their neighbourhood or communities. Unfortunately, despite the claims of a number of Councillors and Mayor Rob Ford, change is not happening.

Metrolinx and the TTC have both come out identifying the downtown relief line (DRL) as the next transit priority. It will be a huge relief for TTC commuters from North York and Scarborough, taking pressure off of the Yonge and Bloor-Danforth lines.

Toronto is a great City, envied by many. But success in recent decades has created challenges. Phrases like “world-class” have little meaning when you are stuck in traffic or have no reasonable transit options to mitigate that traffic. Congestion has been identified by the Toronto Board of Trade (TBOT) and renowned think-tanks as Toronto’s single biggest competitive disadvantage, costing the Greater Toronto-Hamilton Region (GTHA) $6 billion annually. Manufacturers have delays in shipping and moving inventory. Companies with valued and valuable staff waste unproductive time in traffic. If the City does nothing it will be the reason employers and their employees will leave or stay away from our City.

Solving transit gridlock is more than just dealing with individuals’ frustrations. It is making sure this and future generations will available job opportunities, careers and establish roots in Toronto. Millennials coming up in this City are making dramatically different choices about how they want to live and work. The City needs to be able to react to this and we need to be able to build a City for the future.

The City’s elected officials must be honest with themselves. Toronto is now paying the price for having done nothing over the past 20 years. That price of “doing nothing” will only increase. How much more is Eglinton going to cost today than if we had not stopped building it almost 20 years ago?

What will the cost of inaction be for all of us?

Whether and individual drives a car, takes the train, rides a bike or walks, a good public transit network is a necessity for a City the size of Toronto. Transit, like health care and education, is a public good. Everyone benefits from a transit system that works.

A sensible government must realize that unlocking our City’s transit mess will not come cheap. There are no magic solutions; there is no transit fairy or money tree.

City Council recently voted to reject revenue tools. It is time to put this in perspective.

First of all, that phrase fools no one. This is a conversation about taxes and tolls.

I have long considered myself a fiscal conservative. I generally support keeping budgets slim, regulations limited, and taxes low. I disagreed with the previous Mayor’s wasteful spending. I believe Mayor Ford’s agenda of cutting costs and engaging the private sector in outsourcing initiatives to be in the best interest of the City of Toronto. However, when it comes to spending money on unjustified and unfunded transit projects, a self-identified fiscal conservative has to say, “No.”

So when it comes to calling for new taxes, not a single advocate is doing it lightly. I believe in frugality when it comes to government spending, however I know that transit and subways are not built for free. A revolution of common sense at City Hall would allow the current administration’s power brokers to realize that they must find a way to pay for the transit infrastructure we need.

As Chair Stintz proclaimed on Twitter following Council’s decision to reject dedicated revenue, ‘Saying something and doing nothing is still “doing nothing”.’

The City still has a chance to be innovators. Now is City Councillors’ chance to be city builders and help restore pride in a city that works. The only question is; will they have the political will, or won’t they?


Follow Jordan on Twitter: @JordanAGlass

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

Internet raises over $50,000 to put towards alleged Ford crack video

UPDATE 3: Gawker’s campaign has now passed the $50,000 mark, sitting at $51,810, over one quarter of the $200,000 mark they have set. (1:00 p.m. May 18)

UPDATE 2: Gawker’s “Crackstarter” has raised $24,724 and is rapidly increasing. (4:27 p.m. May 17)

UPDATE: With the addition of Gawker’s own “Crackstarter” the running tally sits around $6,000. (1:55 p.m. May 17)

When last night’s news of Rob Ford’s alleged crack smoking video hit the airwaves there was much buzz on Twitter and Facebook about crowdfunding the money required to purchase the video and as of 1 p.m. it has resulted in $3,278 dollars being raised.

The unnamed Somali-Canadian sources that have been in contact with Gawker and the Toronto Star attempting to sell the video, a group which includes the Etobicoke drug dealers who supposedly sold Ford the crack, are asking for “six figures” for the video.

In the morning of Friday, May 17, several projects cropped up on international crowdfunding website Indiegogo.com, three of which have secured funding of hundreds of dollars each.

One of the projects is run by Canadian news source The Province.

UPDATE: One of the projects run by Canadian news outlet The Province, which had reached $915, was removed from Indiegogo at 1:20 p.m.

In the Gawker article that broke the story the author was quite clear that he was looking to purchase the tape, having contacted CNN attempting to set up a partnership. According to the author there was a Canadian news source that had previously offered the men $40,000 for the tape. The Star’s reporters viewed the tape on May 3, 2013 and stated that they did not purchase the video, however, it is unclear as to whether or not they were the unsuccessful bid.

There are a myriad of journalistic ethical questions around the idea of paying for information from sources, especially when the sources are asking for such a high price.

  • Can we trust our news correspondents enough that their testimony in regards to the video is enough? If there is no other way to attain the video without paying upwards of $100,000 is it the responsibility of news sources to shell out the money so that the people of Toronto and Canada may see it?
  • Could paying this source set a precedent for future sources to begin charging for important information on stories, big and small?
  • Could paying for the tape contribute to illegal activity? The men, self professed drug dealers who told the Star they are seeking the money to set up new lives for themselves out west, could easily be offering the same price to Rob Ford’s camp in an attempt to blackmail the embattled mayor.

It remains to be seen whether or not the crowdfunded money can reach the goal and then at that point partner with one of the media outlets currently in contact with the video’s owners along with whatever lasting impact on the Canadian media landscape will come from this incident.

Follow Travis Myers on Twitter: @travmyers


Video surfaces of Rob Ford smoking crack cocaine

Rob Ford has had his low moments, like when it was uncovered that he is an alcoholic, or when he groped WP publisher Sarah Thomson’s behind at a party.

Now it has come to light that there is a video of Rob Ford smoking crack (yes, crack cocaine, that stuff) that was filmed in the last six months.

Gawker reported that they have viewed the video and he is “fucking hiiiiigh” on the tape. It is currently for sale for six figures by a group of Somali-Canadian drug dealers and Gawker is looking for a partner to purchase it with.

This comes with the revelation that his dealers service “Ford’s longtime friend, people on his staff, his brother, a prominent hockey analyst, and more.”

The video in question shows Rob Ford smoking a glass pipe:

The man in the video is Rob Ford. It is well-lit, clear. Ford is seated, in a room in a house. In one hand is a a clear, glass pipe. The kind with a big globe and two glass cylinders sticking out of it.

After the Gawker story was posted they were contacted by an attorney about the tape saying he represents Ford and that the mayor does not smoke crack.

The tipster who informed Gawker of the video sent a photo that shows Rob Ford apparently partying and drinking with a young man who was murdered in a gang-style  shooting on King Street in Toronto’s Entertainment District, Anthony Smith.

Apparently a Canadian news organisation has already offered the owner of the video $40,000 for the video.

Thomson famously suggested that the Mayor might have been under the influence of a drug like cocaine when he groped her.

UPDATE: The Toronto Star viewed the video in question on May 3 and did not release this information to the public until early Friday.

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.