Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is employing a man who has made repeated calls to his weekly radio show in the past, CBC News has learned.
The mayor and his brother, Coun. Doug Ford, have hosted a radio show on Newstalk 1010 for more than a year.
The Fords have long insisted that incoming calls aren’t planted and have said they do not screen out unfriendly calls.
Since they began hosting the show, a male caller identified as "Dave" has been put on air on at least six occasions, calling from different parts of the city.
CBC News has learned that the caller is David Price, the mayor’s current director of operations and logistics.
Sources say staff in the mayor's office put a stop to his calls once they found out about them. The calls ended months before Price was hired by the mayor.
In March of last year, "Dave from Scarborough" called in to say that LRT stood for "left-wing redundant transit," as opposed to light-rail transit.
The next month, the same "Dave from Scarborough" slammed the proposal from the city’s medical officer of health to reduce speed limits.
That May, a "Dave from Etobicoke" offered his take on stores charging for plastic bags:
"That, in my humble opinion, is fascism, and it's ludicrous and asinine that comrade [former mayor David] Miller and his merry band of big-brother, I know better than you, paternalistic, heavy-handed, Looney Tunes socialists should still be setting the agenda of this great city of Toronto," the caller said.
The radio station says it's not uncommon for callers to appear multiple times on a show.
Price did not return calls from CBC News on this story.
He is a long-time friend of the Ford family and was involved in the election campaign of the mayor's brother.
Asked Tuesday about the story about Price and his calls to the radio show, Doug Ford said that he had "laughed it off" after learning that his friend had been calling.
The councillor said he and his brother take calls from a variety of individuals when they are on the air.
"There's good calls, there’s bad calls and you know, we're going to take every one," he said when speaking to reporters at Toronto City Hall.
Coun. Janet Davis told CBC News she found it "quite concerning" that the mayor would hire someone to work in his office who had "misrepresented himself" and made "outrageous comments" on the radio.
"I think the mayor needs to explain why it is he hired him and why he continues to have him in his office," Davis said Tuesday.
Tuning out the mayor
Coun. Adam Vaughan suggested that council is paying little attention to what the Fords are saying on the radio, or doing at city hall.
"Most of us have tuned the mayor out, and none of us really listen to the radio show," he told CBC News on Tuesday.
The mayor has had a tumultuous term at the helm of the city’s government over the past 2½ years, since he was first elected.
Mayor Ford has clashed with council on key issues, faced legal challenges and frequently made headlines for his activities outside city hall.
In recent weeks, reports surfaced that Ford was recorded on video using crack cocaine.
The mayor has denied the tape’s existence, and said that he does not use crack cocaine and is not addicted to it.
Prior to serving as mayor, Ford was a city councillor in Etobicoke, the Toronto suburb where he lives with his family.