Rob Ford's campaign fire truck angers firefighters' union
Union president calls it 'a cheap photo op' in face of fire service budget cuts
"Saving the taxpayers from getting burned," read the sign across an old fire truck parked at Mayor Rob Ford's re-eelction campaign kick-off event on Thursday night.
The play on words, however, did not amuse the Toronto Professional Fire Fighters' Association. The union representing the city's firefighters is in a battle with City Hall over budget cuts that eliminated four trucks and multiple positions from the service.
The truck was a campaign prop adorned with other Ford Nation slogans and signs, bought by Ford brother Randy at an auction.
"Mayor Rob Ford’s decision to use a fire truck to trumpet his false claims about taxpayer savings Thursday is a slap in the face to tens of thousands of Toronto residents whose fire protection levels will decrease Monday when four actual fire trucks are taken out of service," the union said in a release.
Ford's campaign manager, his other brother Doug, responded by saying the mayor supports frontline firefighters, though not necessarily the president of the union. He said Randy bought the truck for $4,000 and that it is not a Toronto fire truck.
Ed Kennedy, the union head, said "when the consequences of these cuts to frontline services become evident, Rob Ford had better be prepared to face those families and explain why he jeopardized their safety in exchange for a cheap photo op."
This is not the first swipe the union has taken against city politicians.
Before a vote on the cuts, a 15-second ad entitled "Seconds Count" featured smoke, alarms, babies crying and a firefighter holding a blackened teddy bear, while a voice-over said, "city council’s plan to cut millions from fire services will put lives at risk."