Toronto Coun. Doug Ford is downplaying the extent to which former sprinter Ben Johnson and Trailer Park Boys cast member Sam Tarasco will play in his brother’s re-election campaign.
Mayor Rob Ford emerged from his office on Tuesday afternoon to tell reporters that he was proud to announce that Johnson and Tarasco, who played a character on TV’s Trailer Park Boys, were on his "campaign team."
He did not specify exactly what that meant.
A day later, his brother suggested that neither the former sprinter nor the actor would be heavily involved in the campaign to win the mayor a second term.
"They’re supporters and I think the media twisted it a little yesterday," Coun. Ford said on Wednesday morning, during a scrum with reporters.
"When I watched it, it made it sound like they were, you know, the new campaign managers, which wasn’t the case."
He made that point more explicit a few moments later.
"Do they have a, let's say a managerial role? No," he said.
Johnson won gold in the 1988 Summer Olympics for the 100-metre sprint but was stripped of the medal for doping. More recently, he's appeared in commercials for sports drink Cheetah Power Surge, making a play on the name of the drink and the word "cheater."
Tarasco played an adversary of the small-time criminal protagonists Ricky, Julian and Bubbles of the show Trailer Park Boys.
Asked about the optics of having Johnson involved in the mayor’s campaign, Coun. Ford did not appear to have any concerns.
"You've got to look on the positive side. You know, everyone’s made a few mistakes, but Ben has made up for that 10 fold," he said.
Coun. Ford also said that "he’s a really good man, in my opinion."
The councillor has previously announced that he will not be running for re-election in Etobicoke. Instead, he will focus his efforts on running the mayor’s campaign.
Mayor's journey to celebrity
The mayor’s name has become widely known around the world as a result of a drug-related scandal that unfolded over the past year.
In May of 2013, reports emerged that someone was shopping a tape that appeared to show him smoking crack cocaine. Ford denied the reports for months, until police revealed at the end of October that they had obtained a video file that was consistent with what the media had reported. Within days, Ford admitted that he had indeed smoked crack cocaine.
The story of the mayor’s drug use was covered by media outlets around the world and has made him a frequent topic on late-night comedy shows. U.S. late-night comedian Jimmy Kimmel even invited Ford to come to Los Angeles to appear on his show, which the mayor did last month.
Ford has also made news when various videos have emerged showing him acting strangely, including a recording in which the mayor was speaking in a Jamaican patois.
More than 40 people are seeking the mayor’s job this fall. Some of the high-profile candidates include former Trinity-Spadina MP Olivia Chow, former city councillor David Soknacki, Coun. Karen Stintz, former mayoral candidate Sarah Thomson and former Ontario PC leader John Tory.
When Coun. Ford was speaking with reporters on Wednesday, he took shots at the campaigns of Chow and Tory and the people involved in them.
"One thing I can promise the people, we aren’t going to have the lobbyists, the backroom deal makers like the Tory and Chow folks have," he said.
Ford also suggested that many campaign workers working for Chow and Tory are "intertwined" with the governing Liberals at Queen’s Park.
He also said that "you’ll never find Rob and I involved in any scandal."
The election takes place on Oct. 27, 2014.