Faced with the friendly but relentless grilling by late-night comedian Jimmy Kimmel, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford attempted to use the spotlight to bolster his re-election campaign.
Here are seven ways Mr. Ford spoke to the voters at home in Toronto from the set of Mr. Kimmel’s Los Angeles-based show on Monday.
Asked why he gives out his cellphone number – which the host called to persuade him to go on Jimmy Kimmel Live! – Mr. Ford said he is “all about customer service” and referred to the taxpayers “here.”
“I give my number out because you’re the boss and when you say jump, I say, ‘How high?’ The taxpayers here want service and I don’t believe in going through all the bureaucrats. Call Rob Ford, I guarantee I’ll return your call. I’ll go right to your front door to serve you. I’ve been doing it for 14 years.”
Faced with comments from Torontonians angry that Mr. Kimmel had invited the mayor on his show, Mr. Ford turned the conversation to cost savings. “I guess they don’t talk about all the money I’ve saved, how we straightened out the city.”
When Mr. Kimmel referred to the debate about his claim of saving $1-billion – which has been discredited – Mr. Ford argued that “the city manager” had verified $800-million in efficiencies in addition to $240-million saved from scrapping “that terrible car tax.”
Told by Mr. Kimmel that he had to “apologize a lot,” Mr. Ford said: “I’ve had to a couple of times, but you know what? The apologies are over, I’m moving on. People are going to judge me on my proven track record and that’s why I’m down here. … I want people to come to Toronto, see how good Toronto is. We have the TIFF.”
When Mr. Kimmel noted that people were “very excited” to see him in L.A., Mr. Ford kept talking about his record in Toronto.
“Toronto is booming right now. The tax increase has only been 1.5 per cent, lower than any tax increase compared to any North American city our size. There’s no more garbage strikes, there’s no more TTC strikes and we are saving money and it is booming. We have 150 cranes in the sky. I’m a businessman, Jimmy. I run it like a business, no nonsense.” (In reality, City Council voted to raise the residential tax rate by 2.23 per cent.)
‘Political’ police chief
When Mr. Kimmel asked Mr. Ford whether it was a “good idea to dare” the Police Chief to arrest him, Mr. Ford again challenged Bill Blair to reveal the cost of the investigation while accusing him of playing politics.
“They follow me around for five months and came up empty-handed. I just want him to come clean with the taxpayers: How much money has he spent? It’s all politics. You know what it comes down to, Jimmy? I support the police like no other. But when they’re playing these political games and are friends of my opponents and they’re spending millions of dollars following me around and come up empty-handed, that bothers me. And I just want him to come clean and say, ‘I spent this much.’ But you know what? He does what he does and I do what I do.”
After Mr. Kimmel mentioned the mayor was running for re-election, Mr. Ford plugged his website and YouTube channel and listed his accomplishments.
“I’ve been responsible with taxpayers’ money for 14 years as a councillor and a mayor. I’ve saved $1-billion and it’s customer service and accountability and I’ve got a proven track record of success. When people said you can’t get a union deal, I got it. When they said you can’t build a subway, we’re building subways. We’re doing everything that I said we were going to do. So 90 per cent of what I said I was going to do is done. So I can’t wait till the election and the debates.”
When Mr. Kimmel suggested that the mayor talk to someone about his drinking, Mr. Ford answered by talking more about his record. “I wasn’t elected to be perfect, Jimmy. I was elected to clean up the mess that I inherited and that’s exactly what I’ve done.”
After Mr. Kimmel said he could be a good example for others, Mr. Ford said: “Talk is cheap. Actions speak louder than words. And we’ll let the people decide on Oct. 27. I’m just a normal, average, hard-working politician that’s real and I guarantee you call me, I will go to your front door.”