Mayor Rob Ford didn't make it to any screenings at the Toronto Film Festival this week, but he is starring in a new release.
The 2:41 minute short was released online by Mr. Ford's office Friday morning, about the same it began playing on a continuous loop from his staff's office on the second floor of city hall.
It includes shots of a smiling Mr. Ford fishing with popular Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion, slow-motion footage of him taking off his tie and rolling up his sleeves to arm wrestle Hulk Hogan and images of him glad-handing at a street festival and his own "Ford Fest." The score is a feel-good tune composed and sung by one of the mayor's staff that includes lines such as "You are a little dreamer, moving up in the world just like a window cleaner."
"This short film is my way of thanking Toronto residents for a phenomenal summer" said a statement from Mr. Ford, who his staff said was not coming to city hall Friday.
Mr. Ford's critics were quick to point out that the video only tells half of the story of a summer filled with controversy for Toronto's civic leader, including allegations that the mayor was caught on video smoking crack cocaine. Videos of the mayor wandering up Greenwood Avenue late on Friday evening during the Taste of the Danforth festival asking "where's the party?" also went viral in August.
"He's plugging a certain narrative," said Councillor Joe Mihevc. "There are clearly some people buying into that narrative and then there is another narrative that's out there and certainly when I'm talking to folks they're wondering what's going on in the city and who is in charge of the ship."
Others said the video is just a variation on the newsletters and Facebook pages produced by most councillors.
"It's a free country," said Councillor Glenn de Baeremaker, calling it a "typical promotional video."
"It shows the mayor out and about in the city and certainly makes him look very good. I have no issues with it," he said. "Politicians seldom show themselves making mistakes. We all try to make ourselves look good."
Ford's office said in a release that "no city resources" were used in the production of the film. One of Mr. Ford's staff members – Brendan Croskerry, the composer and singer of the video's soundtrack – says on his Facebook page that he joined the firm that produced the video last year as "head composer and musical consultant."
Mr. Mihevc said that even if the video was donated, the mayor needs to account for its cost in his office expenses, and said the production of such a campaign-style product months before the official election period should be reviewed by the integrity commissioner.
"He's pushing the envelope in every direction," he said.