Rob Ford touted his "proven track record of success" in an interview with host Matt Galloway on CBC Toronto's Metro Morning radio show today, despite a year in which the Toronto mayor has been mired in scandal.
Ford spent much of the interview talking about his record as a fiscal conservative who's helped boost business in Canada's largest city while controlling costs at city hall.
"We're booming," said Ford, who is seeking re-election in the Oct. 27 vote. "Tourism is up, taxes are down. When people go to bed at night, they can trust me with their hard-earned taxpayer dollars."
Later in the interview, Galloway asked Ford about some of the scandals that have enveloped his office in the past year, including his admission to smoking crack cocaine and pending extortion charges against his friend and former driver Sandro Lisi.
Here's how the exchange went:
Galloway: "Why should anybody trust anything that you say?
Ford: "I have a proven track record of 14 years of success"
Galloway: "And part of that track record is you lying about smoking crack, lying about a reporter being in your backyard … lying about saying you weren't going to drink anymore, and you were caught again drinking …. So based on that, why should anyone trust anything that you say?"
Ford: "Was I perfect? No. I'm not a criminal … I haven't been charged with anything. Don't call me a criminal, Matt, because I'm not a criminal."
Ford also restated his demand that if police have a tape of him smoking crack, it should be released. He said he wants to know how much police are spending investigating him.
Watch all the candidate interviews
Metro Morning host Matt Galloway interviewed five Toronto mayoralty candidates this week.
You can watch videos of all the interviews here:
Galloway then continued to ask Ford about his record in office: "You've admitted to buying drugs, you've admitted to smoking crack … those are behaviours I think that a lot of people would characterize as criminal and as not becoming the office of mayor. Do you think those behaviours should be considered alongside the rest of your record?"
Ford: "It's part of it. What you're saying has been said for the last year, over and over. People are blocking it out. If people want to judge me on my personal life, go ahead, people are going to judge me on my record."
During the interview — which you can watch by clicking on the image at the top of this story — Ford once again stated his often-repeated line that he's saved the city "a billion dollars."
Yesterday, the city manager came short of backing that claim, saying the city has implemented a number of initiatives that have added up to $972 million in budget savings.
Ford said the elimination of the $60 car registration tax accounts for $240 million, pushing him over the $1 billion total.
Galloway challenged the mayor on this, saying the car tax elimination represents a reduction of revenue, not a savings in expenditures.
"To me … that is a tax reduction," said Ford. "When you don't have to pay that $60, I have saved the taxpayers over years more than $240 million."
"My character speaks for itself"
Ford again repeated that he's done everything he's promised to do, which he said speaks to his character. He said he has never missed a debate and would put his attendance record against anyone's on city council.
He characterized his use of crack as "experimenting with drugs," and said it is behind him.
"This is not something that happened last night," he said. "For the last year, every day the media's talked about it. I've admitted to it. And people know that. So what more do you want me to say?"
Ford pointed to his weight loss as a sign he has moved past crack use. "Look at me, I'm a lot thinner than I was before," he said to Galloway. "It's about living a healthier life."
Ford ended the interview by saying that 90 per cent of Toronto would agree that they are better off than they were four years ago.