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Citing ‘waste of taxpayers’ money,’ Toronto Mayor Ford rejects hiring a driver

A screen grab shows Toronto Mayor Rob Ford reading while driving along the Gardiner Expressway.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is standing by his refusal to hire a chauffeur, saying he doesn't believe in "wasting taxpayers' money" on a driver for the chief magistrate of Canada's largest city.

"A million people a day go to work in the city and they drive ... themselves. I don't see why I'm any different. Right now, I'm not planning to go out and spend $50,000 or $60,000 to hire someone to drive me around," Mr. Ford said Tuesday.

The mayor's comments came a week after he was photographed reading papers while driving on the Gardiner Expressway, an incident that prompted calls for him to hire a driver, including from a senior Toronto police officer and the mayor's own brother, Councillor Doug Ford.

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Councillor Ford even floated asking council to essentially force a taxpayer-funded driver on his brother.

But the mayor, who has cemented his reputation as the ultimate frugal politician by refusing some of the traditional perks of his office, insisted he won't heed those calls.

"They offered me a car when I first got elected, and a driver, and that was well over a $100,000 combined. I think that's a waste of taxpayers' money," Mr. Ford said at a photo-op supporting a local boys' soccer team.

In his first comments to reporters since initially shrugging off the Gardiner picture, the mayor also pointed out that his staff members sometimes take the wheel when shuttling him between events.

Last week's incident isn't the first bump on the road for Toronto's mayor.

Mr. Ford has been caught talking on his hand-held cellphone while driving, and he had a verbal altercation with a Dundas streetcar operator after allegedly driving past the vehicle's open doors. (The mayor later said he drove past the streetcar's closed back doors but stopped before the open front doors.)

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Health reporter

Kelly Grant is a health reporter with The Globe and Mail. More

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