Toronto city councillor and mayoral candidate Rob Ford visited The Globe and Mail editorial board on Monday. Following are some excerpts from that conversation:
I've really taken a business approach, in really cleaning up Rexdale, and that's what I want to do on a larger scale in the City of Toronto. Just coming in here, it's not a clean city. A lot of graffiti. Coming off the Gardiner, you look to the right, you see lots of condos and the lake. You look to the left: long grass and weeds, all rusted-out fence. Behind the factories, you see a lot of graffiti, derelict vehicles, it just doesn't look clean. I think we need to clean the city up, and create an atmosphere for businesses to come here. Try to get our commercial tax rate lower than 905 and 519.
Do you honestly believe that adding police officers is a good use of money when the crime rate is dropping?
I don't think we can ever have enough police officers. Do you want 22 extra politicians ... or do you want 100 police officers? And a majority of police have said, I'd rather have 100 police officers. I truly believe that we can run this city with 22 politicians. My dad was an MPP, I saw what he did, how hard he worked. He sat a lot longer hours than we do ...
It's just the police take up such a huge chunk of the budget ...
You're right, it does. And I think that they're the best police force in the world ... I support our police 100 per cent, and I always will ... There's a lot more waste than going after the police budget [by]going down to City Hall, I can assure you of that ...
I got a call from a garbage man a couple of nights ago, he said Rob, you're contracting out garbage. But before you do it, can you explain to me why you have 7 supervisors overlooking 80 of our garbage men? He said it's top heavy, there's a lot of waste in senior management, and I don't disagree with him. I don't know why we're not contracting out the cleaning of our police stations ...
Given the huge advantages of incumbents in municipal politics for quite a long time, you're probably going to be working, if you win, with much the same council. I'm wondering how you will - since the mayor is one vote - he has certain powers, but he's one vote. I'm wondering how you're going to work with a lot of these left-wing councillors. I think of the one in my own ward - Joe Mihevic, for example. How will you build consensus?
Let me answer this in a few different ways: Going back to the argument when Barbara Hall and Mel Lastman were running [for mayor in 1997] Mel won. I heard the exact same thing - Barbara, Jack Layton, Olivia Chow, they said "there's no way you're going to get your agenda through, we're going to throw roadblocks up."
I heard the same thing when David Miller beat John Tory: "There's no way" - this is going on the other side, the right wings said "oh, they're not getting their agenda through." I've yet to see a mayor take office and not be able to get his or her agenda through.
... I have no problem working with those councillors. If you look at Woodbine Live, for example, every councillor supported that and they were saying, "we're giving millions if dollars away in tax breaks" and calling it corporate welfare, and if ever there was a time that so-called left wing would vote against me: [well] they didn't vote against me. They supported it.
I disagree ... that all these councillors are going to get re-elected. I think there's about 10 empty seats because of people who are retiring. And I'm pretty sure, maybe a handful, maybe 6 or 7 are going to go down in defeat. I'm seeing almost the exact same thing of what happened in the early 90s, the Bob Rae days. People are very upset.
Who has been your ideal mayor of Toronto so far?
I think that Doug Holyday was the best mayor that I've seen, and Frances Nunziata. Doug was the mayor of Etobicoke and when Frances was the mayor of York - I thought they did a great job.
In just how they ran the city and their municipalities. Doug did a great job. He contracted out the garbage collection ... I think he was a hands-on type of mayor that people respected.
Have you been in talks with the province at all regarding funding for your plans for transit - the $3.7-billion that you'd like to see spent on subways?
If [Ontario Premier Dalton]McGuinty says no to me, that's fine. He has to go to the voters in a year's time anyway. So if he wants to say no, he's not giving the money, that's fine.
There's other ways of getting around that. We'd have to lean on the private sector maybe a little more, but if he says there's absolutely no way we're getting the money, then you know what? The subway's not going to get built.
I'm not going to implement a tax for it. I'm not going to have tolls, I'm not going to have property taxes increase, I'm not going to burden the taxpayers to build more subways if the province doesn't help us out.
And if I have to go to the feds, I'll definitely approach and see if we can get help from them. But again, I can't guarantee anything. it is $3.7-billion. We'll see. It's clearly stated that the people of the city do want subways more than streetcars.
This interview has been condensed and edited.