Mayor Rob Ford and his brother Doug are turning to YouTube to get their message out with a new series that will debut next week.
Ford Nation features Toronto's controversial leader and his councillor brother in their first broadcast since their weekly radio show was cancelled this fall – after the mayor admitted he had smoked crack cocaine – and a TV show on Sun News Network ended after a single episode.
"Please judge me on my record, not my personal life," the mayor says in a teaser for the show posted Thursday.
One rival campaign for mayor quickly took issue with the show, describing it as "blatantly campaign material."
"I don't think anyone is surprised," said Supriya Dwivedi, spokeswoman for David Soknacki, a former councillor who is running for mayor. "The mayor has played fast and loose with the rules in the past, and this is no different. For someone who constantly claims to respect the taxpayer, the mayor has an awfully odd way of showing it."
The show was promoted in a release from the mayor's office, but his press secretary, Amin Massoudi, said it is being produced by volunteers.
"There was no expense to the mayor or the mayor's office that I am aware of," he said. The series is unscripted and will be broken into three-minute segments, he added.
Mr. Massoudi said the details of the series are being handled by Councillor Ford, who is also running his brother's re-election campaign.
Under election rules, incumbents are not allowed to use city hall resources for campaign purposes.
The 30-second promo opens with kibitzing by the brothers, with the mayor asking Doug: "You got a big belly. You must be eating something. What's your favourite food?"
Doug's response: "That's the pot calling the kettle black."
The Etobicoke councillor goes on to say, " You've pulled their hands out of the cookie jar, and when you do that, folks, they're coming looking for you."
Another clip has the mayor explaining how he responds to calls. "I don't ask people on the phone, 'Are you a Conservative or NDP or Liberal?' before I help them. I just go out and help these people out."
For those who can't wait until the first episode is posted Monday, a link provides a hint of what to expect, although the video is not available. The titles include "Ford Nation begins," "A question from the neighbourhood," "Rob Ford comes clean" and "Another hard ball question."