Rob Ford 'hurt' by council move to strip him of powers
11 staff leave mayor's office Tuesday, as Sun News Network cancels Ford Nation show
Embattled Toronto Mayor Rob Ford said Tuesday that he has lost trust in the majority of his council colleagues, while the deputy mayor moved ahead with new responsibilities that have been transferred to him.
On Tuesday afternoon, Ford said he was "hurt" by the majority of councillors who voted yesterday to slash his staff and office budget transfer more of his powers to his deputy mayor.
According to Ford, he can now only trust the six councillors who “supported” him during the votes yesterday.
Ford said that group is made up of councillors Vincent Crisanti, Frank Di Giorgio, Mike Del Grande, Frances Nunziata, Anthony Perruzza and his brother, Coun. Doug Ford.
"These are the people that … I can trust down there," Ford said in an interview with CP24. "The rest … how can I trust them?"
Late Tuesday afternoon, CBC News confirmed that Sun News Network had pulled the plug on the new Ford Nation show, which featured the mayor and his brother, after airing its first and only episode Monday night.
Mayor loses 11 of 20 staff members
Meanwhile, Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly met with city officials in the morning and with members of the mayor’s staff in the afternoon, to discuss the steps being taken to move the city forward.
The deputy mayor told reporters on Tuesday that 11 of Ford’s 20 staff members would be transferring to Kelly’s own office.
Among the staffers moving to Kelly’s office are Earl Provost, the mayor’s chief of staff, and Sheila Paxton, the mayor’s policy director.
"The members of the mayor’s staff were free to make their own decision. It was up to them to indicate whether they wanted to move or to stay," Kelly said.
"I did not force anyone or entice anyone to join the new office."
Since Friday, Ford has seen council restrict his powers in a number of ways, including slashing his office budget and staff.
Ford has also lost the ability to appoint and dismiss the deputy mayor, as well as the heads of key committees. He can no longer designate key items, or choose to speak first or last on agenda items at council. The mayor has also been stripped of emergency powers, which now go to Kelly.
‘Now we move on’
Coun. Jaye Robinson said that by shifting powers to the deputy mayor, council has stabilized its city government and paved a way forward for the city.
"Now we move on, Toronto is open for business," she told CBC Radio’s Metro Morning on Tuesday.
Coun. Janet Davis said she believed council had done "what was necessary," which she hoped would free her colleagues to concentrate on important issues facing the city.
Ford continues to defy calls to step aside in the wake of a scandal that has seen him admit to smoking crack cocaine, buying illegal drugs, drinking to excess and finding himself under surveillance by police. The mayor also made a crude sexual reference on live television and said that a video the Toronto Star purchased of him ranting and swearing showed him "extremely, extremely inebriated."
All of these admissions occurred since the start of November, drawing wide attention from media in Toronto and around the world. Ford has been repeatedly skewered by U.S. late-night comedians, some of whom have featured multiple segments on the mayor of Canada's most populous city. There was even a Saturday Night Live sketch that centred on the mayor and his many apologies and admissions.
Six months ago, reports first emerged that someone had been shopping a video said to be of Ford using crack cocaine. For months, the mayor denied both using the drug and the video’s existence.
Toronto police would end up investigating those claims, a process that led to an eventual extortion charge being filed against Alexander (Sandro) Lisi, the mayor’s friend and occasional driver.
When police announced on Oct. 31 that they had obtained a video file that was consistent with media reports, Ford began calling for its release. Within days, he admitted to having smoked crack cocaine "probably in one of my drunken stupors, approximately about a year ago."
While it has not been proven what the mayor was smoking on the video in question, there is some indication it could have been recorded this year — and not last year.
The Crown has filed a document in court, in relation to a CBC application to obtain more information about the Lisi investigation, which makes an unproven allegation that the video was filmed in February 2013.
Ford has made it clear that he will fight any opposition and win the next election, but the way he showcases his fervour and defends himself is too polarizing to everyone around him, according to some who specialize in the study of public communications.
His behaviour continues to shock those watching, like Neil Thomlinson, an associate professor of politics and public administration at Ryerson University.
"I don't think in all my time watching politicians — which started when I was about six — I've seen anything like that ever," Thomlinson said Tuesday regarding Ford's behaviour at council.
"This is not normal behaviour. It's outlandish, outrageous behaviour and it needs to be called as such, and any attempt to normalize it is just going in the wrong direction."
And if Ford wants to win, then his "bull in the china shop" presence isn't the way to go, according to communications strategist Daniel Tisch.
Tisch said Ford's recent displays will affect the mayor's "getting the public to forgive him while, at the same time, [taking] a really aggressive stance….There's a certain rule in crisis management that anger and contrition don't mix."
Even Ford's former chief of staff, Mark Towhey, had harsh words about the mayor's behaviour.
"It's a painful, agonizing thing to watch,' he said.
Towhey said the mayor has always played a good underdog — that it was one of the ways he won the mayoral race in the first place — but now there are many more variables to consider.
"What happens now is what they [the Ford brothers] do next, and hopefully they don't do much next," he said.
Ford says problems strictly personal
The way Ford sees it, his problems are personal and his council colleagues are politically motivated to put him on the sidelines.
"They just stripped me of everything I have because of all personal problems," Ford told the CBC’s Peter Mansbridge yesterday, shortly after council voted to further restrict his powers.
The next election is nearly a year away, though one councillor said Tuesday that the football-loving Ford is already focused on the goalpost down the field.
Speaking to reporters at city hall on Tuesday, Coun. Joe Mihevc said that the mayor is "full-time campaigning now, rather than governing," though in his view Ford has been "doing that for the past year."
Ford intends to run again and promises that the coming campaign will be an "outright war," in which he will attempt to take down his council opponents.
"I'm going to do everything in my power to beat you guys," he said in council chambers yesterday, during a wild meeting that saw Ford physically collide with a fellow councillor at one point.
Ford spent a decade on city council before being elected as mayor three years ago.
The father of two came to power vowing to "stop the gravy train" at city hall, projecting an image as an anti-tax crusader who wanted to cut waste and spending.
His tenure as mayor has been marked by controversy, both in his work at city hall and in his private life. Ford has survived a conflict-of-interest challenge that threatened to toss him from office, as well as a defamation lawsuit that was dismissed in court.
He lives with his wife and two children in Etobicoke, the Toronto suburb where he previously served as a councillor.
With reports from CBC's Lorenda Reddekopp and Jamie Strashin and The Associated Press