Toronto Mayor Rob Ford makes it to an average of two of the five events and meetings on his official daily schedule, but his new Deputy Mayor, Norm Kelly, is hoping to change that.
Mr. Kelly, who was picked to fill the post left vacant by Doug Holyday’s move to provincial politics, said he planned to “gently” encourage Mr. Ford to attend more public events.
“I think it is important to get out and about,” Mr. Kelly said earlier this month, adding that he knows the invitations sent to the mayor “are as numerous as the stars in the sky.”
Between mid-February and mid-May, Mr. Ford was listed on average as “confirmed” on 2.5 events per day and did not attend 3.2 events per day – according to an analysis by The Globe of the mayor’s schedules, obtained through a freedom of information request. The FOI request was made because the mayor does not make his official schedule public. The mayor’s office would not comment on the accuracy or completeness of the schedule released to the Globe, after requests by e-mail and in person.
Councillor Adam Vaughan and other critics have said the mayor does not spend enough time at work. In the past, Mr. Ford has said he is up “at the crack of dawn” and “going non-stop,” and that he is often doing constituency work. Mr. Ford also has suggested details of his activities are not made public for security reasons.
The FOI request covers the period from the Christmas break until mid-May. However, the format of the schedules released to the Globe changed with the February calendar. Before that the schedules appeared on paper, entirely in black ink. Entries after this date are colour coded, to indicate his availability and dates Mr. Ford confirmed he would attend – shown in green – and events he did not go to – marked in red.
Aside from days when city council or his executive committee met, Mr. Ford had 13 confirmed appointments or public events before 11 a.m. in the first 19 weeks of this year – two of them to mark the arrival of two Giant Pandas in Toronto. There is no indication in his official datebook about what Mr. Ford was doing on other mornings.
Just because an event is recorded in green in his schedule did not guarantee Mr. Ford made an appearance, a detail that is pointed out in documents released with the FOI request to explain the colour coding. For instance, on Saturday, April 27, the mayor was expected at bicentennial celebrations to mark the 200th anniversary of the Battle of York. The event is recorded in green at the top of his official agenda for that day. Event organizers set a chair aside for the mayor close to Prince Philip, who made a rare visit to Canada for the celebration. The mayor was a no-show.
During the week of March 24, for example, his schedule shows Mr. Ford was on hand to greet the two giant Pandas at the airport, but did not go to two other events in his book – a constituent appointment and community meeting. On the Tuesday, he presented a key to the city to former boxer George Chuvalo, a celebration that was overshadowed by allegations he was asked to leave a charity dinner the month before. His other confirmed date that day was a constituent meeting at 2:30 p.m. On the Wednesday, the mayor had two afternoon meetings, one with the head of a company planning to close an Etobicoke plant, another with a constituent, but was not at a morning ground-breaking event for a soccer club. On Thursday, Mr. Ford was briefed for an upcoming council meeting and met with the mayor of London, Ont., and later met with Premier Kathleen Wynne before the Easter Break.
With files from Patrick White and Stuart Thompson