Seven crazy things we learned from Crazy Town, Robyn Doolittle’s new book about Rob Ford
Today is the day the public can finally buy Crazy Town, the much-anticipated book-length treatment of Rob Ford’s mayoralty, as told by the person who uncovered many of the scandalous details: the Toronto Star‘s Robyn Doolittle.
It’s a worthwhile read for anyone interested in finding out why Rob Ford is the way he is. Not since Marci McDonald’s Toronto Life feature, “The Incredible Shrinking Mayor,” have we had such a detailed portrait of the entire Ford family—and if there’s one thing the book makes clear, it’s that the mayor can’t truly be understood outside the context of his tight-knit, sometimes dysfunctional clan.
RELATED: Doug Ford reacts to Robyn Doolittle’s book, Crazy Town »
There’s also a wealth of information about exactly how the Star went about trying to lift the lid on Rob Ford’s secretive world. There are no follow-the-money moments, but the book has a dramatic quality that makes it compelling. And no matter what, after its author’s publicity blitz is over, Crazy Town is bound to be a go-to resource for any future historians tasked with figuring out just what exactly happened in Toronto between 2010 and 2014—and possibly 2018. Good luck to them.
For the time being, though, here are seven things we learned about the mayor from Crazy Town that we didn’t know already. For the rest, buy the book.
1. Doug Ford Sr. once polygraphed all his kids
We already knew that Doug Ford Sr.—Rob and Doug Ford’s late father—was a self-made businessman with a disciplinarian streak, but Doolittle’s anecdotes reveal the elder Ford’s overbearing side.
In 1998, according to Dolittle, Doug Ford Sr. had all his children take a lie detector test. Rob and Doug Jr. participated, and so did their siblings, Kathy and Randy Ford, both of whom had struggled with substance issues. Ennio Stirpe, Kathy’s husband at the time, also allowed himself to be hooked up to the machine. Ford Sr. was trying to determine who had stolen a tin can of cash he kept hidden in the basement of the family home.
Kathy and Stirpe failed the test, and broke up afterward. The end of the story is well known to anyone versed in Ford lore: a few months later, Stirpe murdered Kathy’s boyfriend with a shotgun.
2. Getting into politics was Doug Jr.’s idea
Conventional wisdom has it that Doug Ford Sr.’s stint as an MPP is what inspired Rob and Doug Jr. to get into city politics. According to Doolittle’s sources, the reverse is true. She traces the Ford family’s political ambitions to 1994, when Doug Jr. volunteered to work on Doug Holyday’s successful campaign for mayor in pre-amalgamation Etobicoke. Doolittle writes that Doug Sr. ran for provincial parliament the following year at Doug Jr.’s urging.
Despite his interest in politics, Doug Jr. wasn’t able to run for city council until 15 years later, because he was busy running the family label company. The book has some revealing things to say about how Doug’s thwarted political hopes would ultimately shape his relationship with brother Rob.
3. Rob Ford’s mayoral run was years in the making
Doolittle writes about a meeting between John Tory and the Ford family in 2003, when Tory was in the early stages of planning his run for mayor of Toronto. After promising to help Tory win Etobicoke, Diane Ford, Rob’s mother, apparently said: “You’ll serve for a period of time, and then it will be Robbie’s turn.” Hubris aside, she was half right.
4. Rob Ford may have started using hard drugs in 2006
Doolittle’s sources told her that after Doug Ford Sr. died of cancer in 2006, Rob Ford began drinking heavily and spending time with his sister Kathy, who is believed to have still been struggling with her drug issues at the time. The book says this is when Ford began to use hard drugs and prescription pills in earnest, though he still preferred alcohol.
5. Right from the beginning of his mayoralty, Rob Ford’s wife was worried about his drug use
One of the book’s most incredible passages is a description of a conversation with Rob Ford’s wife Renata, secretly recorded by an acquaintance of hers shortly after Rob was elected mayor in 2010. “He still thinks he’s going to party,” Renata tells the acquaintance. “He thinks that he, oh, you know, ‘I’ll get off the pills, but I’m not giving up the blow.'” Renata is rarely photographed and never interviewed, so this kind of candid commentary from her is a big deal in itself—and that’s aside from the fact that what she said seems to lend credence to reports that the mayor has used Oxycontin while in office.
6. The Toronto Star spent a long, long time thinking about how and when to reveal what it knew
Much of the latter half of the book deals with Doolittle’s own efforts, over the course of more than a year, to make public what she knew about Rob Ford’s troubled private life. Some of the most intriguing parts deal with Doolittle’s bosses back at the Star. For instance, she writes that, in April 2012, she was ready to publish an article about how the mayor’s staff were urging him to enter rehab. The piece would have come out about a year before the crack scandal broke. Instead, she was forced to put together a watered-down version of the story after Daniel Dale’s confrontation with Ford made the Star‘s editors skittish.
Doolittle’s descriptions of meeting after meeting with the newspaper’s leadership and legal counsel effectively put the lie to the notion that the Star‘s coverage of the mayor was ever a haphazard hatchet job.
7. Doolittle’s first article about the crack video was written in a blind panic
All the Star‘s professionalism didn’t prevent it from being caught unawares on May 16, 2013, when Gawker became the first news outlet to publish a story about the existence of the Rob Ford crack video. Doolittle and Star investigative reporter Kevin Donovan had seen the video about two weeks earlier, but it was only when Doolittle saw Gawker’s article (she had it called to her attention by a fellow attendee at a book launch) that she raced to the Star‘s offices and began to write. The final piece, published under a shared byline, was composed by Doolittle and Donovan, edited, and vetted by the Star‘s lawyers within three hours.
34 thoughts on “Seven crazy things we learned from Crazy Town, Robyn Doolittle’s new book about Rob Ford”
Will be on the New York Times List
#3 was reported in a May 2012 Toronto Life profile.
Should be quite a read
Quite the family. After his political career, Rob should retain an agent and contact a Hollywood producer. Their crazy shit would make the Kardashians blush.
Doolittle’s extremely well researched book, Crazy Town” with its
pathetic revelations of a totally dysfunctional Ford family from the
word go, just further underscores clearly, how Mayor Ford’s alcohol and
drug use has so hopelessly impacted his career he should immediately
resign as Mayor of Canada’s largest city and never run for a public office of any description ever again.
Oh, my. oh, my. What makes this bunch of brain-dead stoners so dysfunctional? To an outsider they seem to be doing quite nicely, thank you. They do love their time in the spot-light however, and this book will keep them all there. Wanna bet we’ll hear more denials from all of them?
“It’s another story with respect to the Toronto Star going after me. It’s the Toronto Star going after me again and again and again.” – Rob Ford, tomorrow
It’s amazing how Ford successfully bullied the Star for so long. There was a stretch there where the paper wasn’t getting City Hall press releases because they’d published a (true) story about Ford’s legal woes.
Actually that was Doug Ford today.
ha ha, I saw that! I was … sort of joking, but I guess I called it pretty accurately.
TINA FEA FTW BIIIITTTCCCHEZZZZZ
A “sometimes” dysfunctional clan? If, by sometimes, you mean every minute of every day, then, yes, I agree.
I hope Giroux arrests him before the next election.
It is amazing how everyone is so interested in his family and their past… I would love to see all of yours!! Everyone is so infatuated with this mans life. No one is perfect, and our mayor isn’t either but now we’re just digging for gold! It is us who is making our city look like a bunch of idiots, especially when our cities own stupid reporters write books revealing our mayors whole life story… If we all let it go, and leave it to elections I think others will forget about it too. It’s people like Robin Doolittle and The Toronto Star who ruin lives and make us look like the laughing stock of the world.
The drug use, wife beating, consorting with criminal element, drunk driving, possibly murder, turning council into a circus, uttering language unfit for a sailor on leave, (sorry sailors. It’s a saying), prostitution, and grabbing asses paints a bad picture of the mayor.
But for me, jaywalking is the final straw. I will not vote for a mayor who jaywalks. It is completely reprehensible. Where is his jaywalking apology? Is jaywalking against the law if your in a drunkin stupor? Or as Doug will say, “alleged jaywalking”.
Doolittle has NO credibility. Don’t believe a word she writes.
You are either willfully blind or uninformed. Her reporting keeps getting corroborated by facts and police investigations — investigations that are still very active.
Read the Project Brazen 2 surveillance ITO:
This is police surveillance information, and it corroborates many of the things that have been written in the media.
Yes, I understand your point and I am not saying I don’t agree. Is Rob Ford right? No. Should these actions be allowed from our Mayor? Defiantly NOT. But my only issue is I don’t agree with Robin Doolittle being allowed to write books about peoples personal life and upbringings. The present is fine it’s everywhere! But is it ok for he to dig that deep into his life and write about him? Why is it ok for her to to invade someone’s privacy and make a fortune off of it? The papers and media are fine but now this? What’s next is she going to write a book about Justin Bieber lol… I don’t agree with our Mayors actions, but I think things are getting a little ridiculous.
Unlike all of the credibility that “JojoXray” has writting an anonymous post on a web forum
Perhaps the Fords are being dismissive of the damning book as it includes a dystopian preface by Margaret Atwood.
I disagree. Political figures have media articles and books written about them all the time. Go to a public library or bookstore for evidence of this. If you don’t want your life scrutinized, don’t run for public office. Furthermore, if you don’t want your life scrutinized, don’t become a public official and then smoke crack cocaine with gang members in Rexdale. Of course your personal life will get scrutinized if you do something like that and you’re a politician.
I say it’s about time that Torontonians became aware of exactly who their mayor is, and why he is associating with people who have been convicted of crimes, including violent crimes. The Project Brazen 2 surveillance report raises many questions, and he is not answering them. He even refuses to meet with the police and answer their questions. As mayor, Ford has influence on the police budget and these questions are relevant. I hope Ms. Doolittle writes a follow-up book when the full story is finished.
I’ve been to libraries, I know what they carry thanks. Maybe you should write a book you seem to be more educated then Robin herself. Everything written in that book has already been discussed in the media… Did we need a book too? This is my point. I know he smokes crack and hangs out with criminals who doesn’t? It’s too bad you didn’t write the book you could have made some money.
Hey, who said I won’t write my own book in the future? Stranger things have happened… ;-)
But seriously, it’s good that she has gathered all of the information and allegations together in one book. Now people who have not followed the case closely will have a book to turn to. Ford has been involved in so much questionable behaviour that it will take many books to cover his story. And I also look forward to a movie version of his life in the future. I can imagine the title: “Cracked Up in Toronto.” LOL!
LOL… Now that will be a classic.
the mayor smoked crack while in drunken stupors, consorts with criminals and lies about it and many other things also.
it is justified
on the contrary, he has credibility
unlike the constant lies from the mayor who has no credibility
Prime Minister Stephen Harper
speaks at a BBQ held at Mayor Rob Ford’s family home in Etobicoke on Tuesday.
Ford, who went fishing last month on Harrington Lake
with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, said he would extend the invitation to the
PM, adding although he did catch a big bass with the prime minister, “it wasn’t
2 min. long
She can write about him because he is the mayor of the largest city in Canada. Voters need to know about the man they voted for and may vote for again. Otherwise, you get simple minded people like those that might still be part of the Ford Nayshun who don’t acknowlege how screwed up their man is.
Are you nuts. It is the Ford’s who have no credibility. Everything she wrote about in the Star has proven to be true and everything the Ford’s denied turned out to be lies. Sorry JojoXray, Robyn Doolittle has iron clad credibility.
“It is amazing how everyone is so interested in his family and their past… I would love to see all of yours!!”
Sure. I mean I’m not Mayor, so I’m not sure what the point is, but, sure.
So you’re saying you don’t think authors (or reporters) should be allowed to write biographies of people who choose a more public life, by holding public office? I can’t agree with that.
Why? She said he’s smoking crack. He’s confessed. She said he has problems at home. He’s said as much. She’s reported on the rest of his family’s issues. These things have almost all been either confessed to or verified by another party. Why does telling the truth about something destroy your credibility?
She was actually doing a service for the citizens of Toronto. People who didn’t know all about him or weren’t sure if they believed everything that they heard can read this book and see how unfit this family is to run the city.
Everything in this book is true, the Fords are the ones who have NO credibility.
Sorry but I don’t drink and drive, smoke crack, hang out with gang members and II am not the Mayor. He shows up to work wasted and gets thrown out of official city functions for being intoxicated, that is even if he shows up. He is a racist and a homophobe and he is the Mayor of the most diverse city in North America. Robin didn’t ruin this man’s life Rob ruined his own life. Rob made us look like the laughing stock of the world not Robyn. This is all Rob’s fault all by himself. If he did not want his past dug up so much maybe he shouldn’t of been running around wasted out of his mind hanging out with gang members. He chose the spotlight this sort of thing comes with the territory and he knew that his dad was a politician. This is all on Rob and this book is important because it shows how unfit this family is for politics.
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