Toronto’s Mayor Rob Ford has a unique talent for saying and doing the absolute wrong things at the wrong times.
Sued once for conflict of interest and another time for libel, he barely survived an election audit and has made numerous racist and sexist comments.
Here are five fast facts on Mayor Ford’s most scandalous moments.
1. The Many Lawsuits Against Him
Let’s start with the three biggest:
- After his election in 2010, a forensic auditor uncovered violations in Ford’s campaign, including expenses from before its official launch, improper corporate donations and campaign spending excesses of the official limit.
A city committee accepted the findings of the audit, but decided not to appoint a prosecutor to the case. The activist who triggered the investigation has not ruled out a private prosecution against the mayor.
- During his 2010 election campaign, Ford implied that that a local business owner resorted to ”corruption and skulduggery” to obtain a deal to sell food and drinks in an east Toronto neighbourhood. The business owner, a man named George Foulidis, demanded an apology but Ford refused so Foulidis filed a $6 million defamation suit.
Unfortunately for Foulisdis, the Ontario Superior Court dismissed his complaint in December of that year.
- In February 2012, Ford asked the Toronto city council to excuse him from repaying $3,000 in donations that he solicited (on city letterhead) from lobbyists for his football charity. Most egregiously, he voted on the matter himself — a major conflict of interest.
In November 2012, a judge ruled that Ford breached the law and ordered him out of office. Ford appealed, and the Ontario Divisional Court overturned the judge’s decision. Ford kept his job and is now looking for $120,000 in legal fees from the man who brought the case against him.
— Adam Goldenberg (@adamgoldenberg) December 27, 2012
2. Foot-in-the-Mouth Syndrome
Ford has made a number of ridiculous public comments, so this is a hard list to whittle down. Among the most infamous…
While a city councillor in 2006, Ford argued against the city donating $1.5 million to the fight against AIDS. He said:
If you are not doing needles and you are not gay, you wouldn’t get AIDS probably, that’s bottom line…those are the facts.
When then-Mayor David Miller pointed out that women are the largest growing demographic of those contracting AIDS, Ford said it must mean “they are sleeping with bi-sexual men”.
In 2007, as a councillor, he said about bicyclists:
What I compare bike lanes to is swimming with the sharks. Sooner or later you’re going to get bitten… Roads are built for buses, cars, and trucks, not for people on bikes. My heart bleeds for them when I hear someone gets killed, but it’s their own fault at the end of the day.
Concerning Asians, in 2008 he said:
Those Oriental people work like dogs. They work their hearts out. They are workers non-stop. They sleep beside their machines. That’s why they’re successful in life. I went to Seoul, South Korea, I went to Taipei, Taiwan. I went to Tokyo, Japan. That’s why these people are so hard workers (sic). I’m telling you, the Oriental people, they’re slowly taking over.
— Angel Cheng (@MissChengA) January 29, 2013
The words of a proud redneck, perhaps, but not the impression Toronto – a multicultural city of close to 3 million – would like to present to the world. Unless he’s trying to reinforce the similarities between him and the Chris Farley character who’s “living in van down by the river”.
3. His Many Occasions of Public Drunkenness/Obnoxious Behaviour
In 1999, before he entered city politics, Ford was arrested in Florida for a DUI and possession of marijuana. When questioned by reporters about the incident during his mayoral campaign, Ford initially denied the DUI charge, maintaining instead that he was arrested for failing to provide a breath sample.
Ford later admitted that he did receive a DUI conviction, but neglected to mention the marijuana possession charge. When pressed, he finally admitted to the charge, saying it had “completely, totally slipped my mind”.
In April 2006, while a city councillor, Ford attended a Toronto Maple Leafs game at the Air Canada Centre. Visibly drunk and belligerent, he began berating a couple from out of town sitting behind him. Eventually, security guards escorted him out of the building.
When confronted later about the incident by a reporter, Ford denied even having been at the game. He doubled down on his denial and told the Toronto Star:
This is unbelievable, I wasn’t even at the game, so someone’s trying to do a real hatchet job on me, let me tell you.
Not long after, however, he retracted his statement.
I reflected on it last night, and talked to my family. I came forward and admitted it. That’s all I can do. I mean, I’m not perfect. Being in politics, you’re in the spotlight all the time. I made a mistake. I made a major mistake. I really regret it.
Most recently, at a party held by the Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee on March 7, 2013, a former mayoral candidate named Sarah Thomson accused Ford of touching her inappropriately and making a suggestive remark.
He told me he was in Florida and I should have been with him because his wife wasn’t there. I didn’t expect that. Rob doesn’t normally act that way towards women, so I was a little bit shocked and then we posed to get our picture taken and he grabbed my ass during the pose.
She’s asked for an apology, but knowing Ford, he’ll deny he was ever at the party (despite photographic evidence).
Sarah Thomson said that Rob Ford looked “sweaty and out of it” last night. To be entirely fair to Ford, he always looks like that. #TOpoli
— Ross Langager (@Sidslang) March 8, 2013
In line with the evidence of his election violations, Ford came under fire when he personally asked city officials to approve drainage and road repairs outside the DECO Labels and Tags building (his family’s business) before its 50th anniversary party in August 2012.
Not long later, the ombudsman for the city of Toronto published a report suggesting that Ford’s office “compromised” the civic appointments process for city boards and agencies. The report was discussed at council and Ford refused to participate, instead opting to deny the charges on a radio talk show.
A month later, Ford said he wanted to eliminate three watchdog positions: that of the ombudsman, the integrity commissioner and the lobbyist registrar, saying:
You don’t need a lobbyist registry, an ombudsman and an integrity commissioner. They have 20 people; they’re tripping over themselves. They’re trying to make themselves look busy. I’ve never voted in favour of it and never would.
All three positions are required under Ontario law.
Wait, wasn’t Rob Ford the CFO of Deco?! “Mayor’s office destroys records of business card purchase” bit.ly/uU7xkk
— Radey Barrack (@radeybarrack) December 22, 2011
5. His Fear of Journalists (Something to Hide, Rob?)
Ironically thin-skinned, in response to critical reporting about his work as a city councillor and as mayor, Ford decided to stonewall all journalists from the Toronto Star.
In response, in December 2011 the Toronto Star filed a complaint with the city’s integrity commissioner.
Adrienne Batra, then Ford’s press secretary, opted to institute a policy of keeping Ford’s meeting schedule secret, with the exception of freedom-of-information requests. Highly unusual, considering the mayor is supposed to be working for the public, not keeping information from them.
In an amusing run-in with the press, in October 2011 Ford was confronted in the driveway of his home by Mary Walsh, an actor on the satirical CBC news show This Hour Has 22 Minutes, in costume as her character Marg Delahunty.
Walsh, as Delahunty, is known for conducting ambush interviews of Canadian politicians dressed as a housewife in an outfit inspired by Xena: Warrior Princess. When Walsh and the TV crew tried to interview Ford, he retreated into his home and called 911, twice. In his second call, he used obscenities.
CBC News reported that Ford had sworn at the dispatcher, which he denied, though he admitted that he used obscenities.
After being attacked in my driveway, I hope I can be excused for saying the f-word. I never called anyone any names. I apologize for expressing my frustration inappropriately.
Far from being attacked, Ford was roundly mocked by both the media and public for failing to get the joke.
Thoughts on Rob Ford with Mary Walsh ow.ly/hagwG
— ThisHourHas22Minutes (@22_Minutes) January 27, 2013
ACTRA just named Mary Walsh their 2013 Woman of the Year. Suck it, Rob Ford! bit.ly/WxaV5M
— Billie Livingston (@BillieLiving) March 7, 2013