He once said he wouldn’t know Margaret Atwood if she walked right past him, but Doug Ford had no trouble recognizing her when they bumped into each other at a party Tuesday night.
Both the city councillor and the literary icon were guests at a going-away bash for Jeff Melanson, Mayor Rob Ford’s arts advisor, at the home of financier and arts philanthropist Robert Foster in Toronto’s posh Forest Hill neighbourhood. Neither, apparently, knew the other would be there.
When Ms. Atwood arrived, Councillor Michael Thompson greeted her by the door. Then, he steered her over to Mr. Ford.
“I said, ‘I’d like you to meet a colleague of mine’,” he recounted. Mr. Thompson made the introductions, snapped a photo on his mobile phone and stood back while the pair chatted.
“They were both extremely friendly to one another. Doug had a big smile on his face, there was no animosity,” he said. “It was a really cool moment.”
They made tentative plans to have coffee together and see if they could work together on the arts and culture file, he said.
Ms. Atwood had to leave before the mayor arrived, but promptly tweeted about the encounter.
“T-pals, UnBLeevAbul!” she wrote. “I just met D. Ford! At a NotTimmies Arts Party! (He knows what I look like now! :D) Sez #libraries will not be cut! :D”
She also wrote that Mr. Ford “was all dimples,” and joked that she tried to give Mr. Ford bunny ears when Mr. Thompson photographed them.
“Yikes, I thought. Have I been Co-Opted?” she wrote.
Ms. Atwood has been one of the highest-profile figures to speak out against closing libraries, a move suggested by auditors over the summer. After she made fun of Doug Ford for erroneously asserting there were more libraries in his ward than Tim Hortons’, he told reporters that he had no idea who she was.
Earlier Tuesday, the mayor’s executive committee voted to take library closures off the table, although the city will still consider cuts to hours.
Mr. Melanson is decamping to Alberta to run the Banff Centre.