Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s public intoxication and profane outbursts are making it harder to promote Toronto and attract businesses here, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne says.
A day after a new video emerged showing Mr. Ford in a fast food restaurant drunkenly swearing about police Chief Bill Blair, Ms. Wynne said Mr. Ford’s “personal issues” mean politicians such as herself are missing out on opportunities to promote the city.
“To the degree that this discussion about one person’s personal issues can detract and distract from the business of growing Toronto and making sure Toronto is the best that it can be, then that does concern me,” she said at Queen’s Park Wednesday. “I hope that Rob Ford is able to get the personal support that he needs.”
Mr. Ford admitted last year to smoking crack cocaine and being drunk in public. He was also the target of a police investigation that turned up allegations he used heroin, hung out with gangsters and partied with a prostitute, which Mr. Ford denies.
A video posted to YouTube Monday night shows Mr. Ford at Steak Queen in north Etobicoke, drunk and ranting in Jamaican patois, describing Chief Blair in vulgar terms.
Ms. Wynne said she saw clips of the video on TV and read about it. Such things are not helpful in trying to convince investors of Toronto’s positive attributes, she said.
“Toronto’s a wonderful, vibrant place to live, to do business, to raise a family and it’s very important to me that people outside of Toronto, outside of Ontario, know that,” she said. “To the degree that we’re not talking about what a wonderful place Toronto is, and the fact that it is a terrific place to bring businesses, that concerns me.”
But Ms. Wynne refused to intervene, saying the status quo – where most of Mr. Ford’s powers are now wielded by Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly – is fine.
“If Rob Ford has personal issues that need to be dealt with, I hope he gets help and that he can deal with them. My responsibility as the Premier of Ontario is to make sure that our municipal councils can function,” she said. “I will continue to work with Deputy Mayor Kelly who has been given responsibility by council to be their representative. That’s how I will proceed.”
Former Prime Minister Paul Martin, who was at Queen’s Park to give Ms. Wynne advice on creating an Ontario pension plan, took Ms. Wynne’s warning to heart.
Asked for his thoughts on the Mayor’s travails, he cracked a grin and replied: “One of the things that I said to the Premier when we were walking down the hall is: there are really certain great benefits of no longer being in public life. And not answering that question is one of them.”