Rob Ford’s annual barbecue becomes a political burden

Rob Ford’s annual barbecue becomes a political burden

Like everything else associated with Rob Ford, Ford Fest, the mayor’s annual public barbecue, is now engulfed in scandal. The event, the first installment of which takes place this year on July 25, is a longstanding tradition for the Ford family. Prior to 2013 it was held in the garden area behind the home of Diane Ford, the mayor’s mother. Starting last year, though, the Fords began holding their fest in public parks, and that’s now the problem: the city’s own policy prohibits issuing event permits to political candidates looking to use city property to promote themselves during a campaign period. Doug Ford, Rob’s campaign manager, has claimed that Ford Fest is exempt from that restriction, because it isn’t a campaign event—a view evidently shared by city staff, who at last check were in the process of issuing the Fords a permit for the use of Thomson Memorial Park, in Scarborough. But on Tuesday night, a number of Twitter users reported receiving robocalls in which a recorded Rob Ford voice promotes the event. At least one version of the call directs listeners to an answering machine associated with Ford’s campaign office. (Also, it’s worth pointing out that the barbecue has always appeared to be aimed at ensuring voter loyalty. Last year Ford explicitly asked for votes and volunteers during at least one Ford Fest speech.) Friday’s event will also differ from those in previous years in that there won’t be any free beer—not because of the poor optics associated with giving away alcohol at an event meant to honour an admitted alcoholic, but because they couldn’t get a license.