Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is waging “war” against colleagues at city hall by campaigning to have his least-favourite councillors unseated in the next election.
In a YouTube video released on Tuesday, Mr. Ford lists the 10 councillors he would most like to see defeated for their “tax-and-spend” ways. He then names a few more with whom he has problems, in the end slamming nearly half of his council colleagues. His fighting words provided fuel for critics who say Mr. Ford has abandoned efforts to work with council and is focusing solely on the October election.
“Let me tell you who we have to defeat,” Mr. Ford says in the video, part of a series called Ford Nation, before naming Gord Perks, Janet Davis, Adam Vaughan, Joe Mihevc, Sarah Doucette, Shelley Carroll, Glenn De Baeremaeker, Mike Layton, Kristyn Wong-Tam, and Paul Ainslie.
He later adds Josh Matlow, Mary-Margaret McMahon, Chin Lee, Raymond Cho, Paula Fletcher, Maria Augimeri, Gloria Lindsay Luby as other “vulnerable” councillors he would like defeated.
“These people have gone out of their way to – I personally think – ruin Toronto, increase taxes, strip me of my powers,” Mr. Ford says. “I’ve had enough of it. They wanted the war, they’re gonna get the war.”
But several of the councillors said being singled out by the mayor is more likely to help than hurt.
“I’m buoyed by it,” Mr. Mihevc said. “I would suggest that there’s an inverse relationship between the mayor, the people he dislikes, and the people who are actually good councillors.”
He added that the video shows the mayor does not want to work with council. “This whole thing says that this mayor’s more interested in settling scores than, frankly, doing his job as mayor,” he said.
Mr. Ainslie called the latest “just more of Rob Ford’s bullying.”
Council is set to meet on Wednesday to debate issues ranging from leadership at the TTC to taxi licensing reform, and Mr. Ainslie said most councillors spent the day preparing for the debate.
“But the mayor’s on YouTube campaigning, trying to take out councillors and calling people yahoos,” he said. “We have a political system with a mayor and 44 councillors who need to work together. There’s eight months left before the election. But he’s shutting down and going into election mode.”
The campaign-style Ford Nation videos also landed the mayor in trouble with the city’s integrity commissioner, after the series was promoted last week via the mayor’s publicly funded staff and e-mail. As a result, a spokesperson in the mayor’s office said on Tuesday staff e-mail will no longer be used to promote the videos.
Spurred in part by the complaints about the videos, rival mayoral candidate David Soknacki filed a request with the city on Tuesday to see if Mr. Ford has used his staff and office for other campaign purposes.
In particular, Mr. Soknacki’s campaign manager, Brian Kelcey, singled out the mayor’s brother and campaign manager, Councillor Doug Ford.
“As a regular visitor to the mayor’s office during the rare occasions he’s actually in his office, we believe that there’s reasonable cause to suspect or at least inquire as to whether there are campaign activities taking place or campaign conversations taking place in the mayor’s office,” Mr. Kelcey said.
In separate Ford Nation videos released on Tuesday, the mayor also addressed the controversy surrounding a Pride flag he has asked to have removed from City Hall, saying “I am not homophobic.” Councillor Ford then chimed in to accuse the LGBTQ community of trying to “bully” them.
“The gay community feels like they’ve been bullied, and rightfully so, because a lot of times they have,” he says in the video. “But don’t come back and try to bully the people who don’t show up and call them homophobic.”