Q&A: TDSB trustee Michael Ford on being the newest member of the Ford family’s political dynasty

Q&A: TDSB trustee Michael Ford on being the newest member of the Ford family’s political dynasty

(Image: Erin Leydon) (Image: Erin Leydon)

First things first: Mikey or Michael?
It’s Michael.

Wow, a very stern look just crossed your face.
Haha—well, when you’re young and want people to take you somewhat seriously, Mikey doesn’t necessarily help. I prefer Michael. Even Mike.

Noted. At 21, you’re the youngest trustee on the school board, responsible for 12,000 kids in Ward 1. Most people your age are off doing wild, crazy, semi-legal things. Any regrets?
None. I love what I’m doing. I’ve always been interested in municipal issues, and I’ve always been around city hall.

Have you had a chance to do normal 20s-ish stuff?
Yes. I was in residence for a semester at Laurier for political leadership, and I did a year at Humber for business administration. I love travelling and adventure—I have my pilot’s licence—watching hockey and baseball, or going to a concert, especially anything country. But I’m not a party animal. Sometimes after a long day, I’ll call my friends and be like, “Hey, you want to go to Starbucks?” and we’ll have tea.

Sorry, tea?
Yeah, maybe a coffee, depending on the day. I’ve been trying to stay healthy. Lately I’ve been doing a lot of biking, through Centennial Park, down to the waterfront, all the way east to the Leslie Street Spit. It’s part of my lifestyle change. I’ve been on the Harvey Brooker weight loss regimen for about two months now, and I’ve lost 50 pounds.

Wow, that’s impressive. What prompted the change?
My weight was out of control. I love to eat, but as someone who’s in public life, I want to provide a healthy example for students. So far, I feel great, especially when I wake up. I’m energized and ready to go.

Trustees earn $26,000 a year, which is more than most people your age make. What was your first purchase?
Prime rib at The Keg. That was before I started my diet.

Is the TDSB as screwed up as everyone keeps saying?
I don’t think so. I’ve seen lots of collaboration and lots of disagreement, which I think is healthy.

You live with your grandmother, Diane, in Etobicoke. Does she cramp your style?
Not at all. Nana and I always sit down at the end of the day and debrief—though not until after The Young and the Restless. Sometimes I’ll even watch it with her.

What do you make of that scoundrel Victor Newman?
Oh, he’s slick. Jack, too. But that’s probably the extent of my Y&R knowledge.

Your mom, Kathy, lives around the corner. Do you see her often?
Yes, all the time. I walk her dog, a mutt named Tyson, almost daily.

Your dad, Ennio Stirpe, is in jail for attempted murder. Do you visit him?
No. I haven’t seen him in a long time.

That can’t be easy on you.
It is what it is. I try to stay positive. A lot of people go through hard times in life. You just have to keep going.

How do you compare politically to your uncles, Rob and Doug?
I share their commitment to customer service. But I’m different in many ways. I’m a big supporter of the Pride Parade, and I’ve recently committed to giving up my car—a red Camaro Nana gave me for my 17th birthday—and taking public transit everywhere I go.

Hold up—I thought you were a Ford.
I am, but I want to create my own name in politics and be seen for who I am, for better or worse.

Here’s a test: how’s Mayor Tory doing so far?
Pretty good. I’d give him a B+, and I’d give Kathleen Wynne a B-.

I’ll be damned. So where do you fall on the political spectrum?
I’m responsible with money but passionate about social issues. More a blue Liberal than a red Tory.

It sounds like you’re on the campaign trail already. Is a run for council—and even the mayoralty—a possibility?
I’m so focused on being a trustee right now that I can’t even think about it.

But you wouldn’t rule it out?