Lisa Mullins: The mayor of Toronto, Canada is under pressure. Rob Ford is a conservative. He was elected in 2010, vowing to eliminate wasteful city spending. Now, Mayor Ford is under fire for using taxpayer resources to raise money for a football foundation and for abandoning a city council meeting six hours early to go coach a youth football team. Reporter Ian Brown is covering Mayor Ford's saga for the Globe and Mail in Toronto.
Ian Brown: He has this football foundation and he raised some money for it using mayoral stationery and using some of his assistants to do so. He got called out for that and he was gonna return about three grand that he raised using those techniques and he did not do so. And then the city council had a vote to see whether he should return the money and he voted in that vote, and that was against the conflict of interest rules of the mayor, and as a result of that his case is now being heard by a judge and the judge is gonna decide whether the mayor broke the conflict of interest rules.
Mullins: That's not the end though of some of the controversy around him, I mean controversial issues around him. Another one has to do with this policy I guess which was pretty popular in the beginning anyway of his cutting city hall spending. He is cutting in one particular way – he's not having a car and driver provided to him as mayor. Sounds like that would win him a lot of votes, but I guess it's kinda gotten him in trouble.
Brown: A couple of weeks ago he was photographed—I think he was doing 70 kilometers an hour. What is that, I don't know, 40 mph on a highway reading while he was driving. So somebody said you know, Mayor, you're the mayor, you shouldn't be reading and driving. And
Mullins: He said he's a hard worker, he's always working.
Brown: I'm a busy guy! Everybody has tried to read and drive I imagine and everybody has almost smashed into the car in front of them, and everybody has then stopped doing it for the most part, but the mayor you know, he makes an excuse. Anyway, the reporters have been hounding him because while he was in this hearing about whether he had committed this conflict of interest a year and some ago, at that very same time he hired three special assistants in his capacity as mayor and all three of them were helping him with his voluntary coaching thing. There's nobody in this city that cares about the mayor doing volunteer work, everybody is in favor of volunteer work. But if he's doing volunteer work on the city's dime, especially having campaigned, you know, on the Cut the Gravy campaign, that was his slogan, we're gonna cut the gravy. This from a guy who looks like he's consumed a fair bit of gravy himself. That apparent hypocrisy, that is hard to take.
Mullins: As it happens, Rob Ford, the mayor of Toronto and his brother, Doug Ford, who's a city councilor have their own radio show. It's on News 1010 in Toronto. And yesterday, we're gonna play a piece of tape from it now, yesterday they were responding to some of the criticism that has been coming their way. They also talked a little bit about how the press was lined up for hours outside football practice the other day. This is after the mayor had left this city council executive committee meeting early in order to attend the scrimmage of the football team he coaches. So here's the tape, first voice we're gonna hear is Doug Ford, who's the brother of the mayor.
Doug Ford: You know, folks, let's jump on this right from the get-go okay and then we'll get onto some serious business because that's what the taxpayers want.
Rob Ford: Well they could just put their name on a ballot and let's go toe to toe with them in a reelection, like I don't understand
Doug Ford: No,
Rob Ford: to sit there and take shots at us and ridicule you, but why don't you just put your money where your mouth is and let's campaign. They can go after you and come after me as mayor and we'll let the cards fall and we'll see what happens. I'll debate any of those, I'll be
Doug Ford: Okay, well
Rob Ford: It's a laugh, people are calling nonstop saying just disregard them, they're sitting, they're camped out, literally camped out three hours outside practice and the kids are like this is, this is
Doug Ford: Well no, there's a double standard. There's a double standard now. Now if it was the environmental group or the tree huggers association that you've cutoff the grants and they weren't held accountable before, there was no audits, and you go after them, that's why these folks are angry, Rob.
Mullins: He says that's why these folks are angry. Are folks angry enough to see that Mayor Ford doesn't serve out his entire term?
Brown: Up until last week it was considered unlikely that he would be removed from his job for the conflict of interest because people were willing to cut him slack. And also you know, he was elected and you can't contradict the will of the people on a small technical error, but as a result of the ensuing week in which he was seen to be still doing exactly the same thing that he was you know, being censured for, if I were a betting man and one should never bet, of course, but if I were a betting man I'd say in the next election he is toast.
Mullins: Speaking to us about Toronto's mayor, Rob Ford, Ian Brown, who's a feature writer for the Globe and Mail newspaper in Toronto. We've got a link to his article on Mayor Ford at our website, theworld.org. Ian Brown, nice to speak with you.
Brown: Likewise, thanks a lot.