Get a sneak peek at our May cover story: Rob Ford and the weirdest mayoralty in Toronto history
Below is an excerpt from our May cover story, “The Incredible Shrinking Mayor” by Marci McDonald. The full text is now available online. Click here for more »
On Newstalk 1010, the sly strains of the Hollies hit “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” offered the first clue. Then morning host Jerry Agar burst on the air with a surprise announcement: Rob Ford and his councillor sibling Doug were taking over the station’s Sunday afternoon talk-fest, The City. For the once-staid CFRB, landing the boisterous brother act that Margaret Atwood had puckishly dubbed the “twin Ford mayors” was clearly a coup, but that didn’t answer the more obvious question: why on earth would the Fords want to spend two more hours a week in front of an open microphone when they were hardly suffering from a lack of media exposure?
Rob Ford, after all, ranks as one of the most compelling and exhaustively chronicled figures in Canadian politics, adored and despised with equal gusto. His every pronouncement seems to turn into front-page fodder, his every grimace and belly scratch catalogued by rapt photographers. And who could forget the YouTube footage of comedian Mary Walsh arriving in his driveway, decked out with a velvet breastplate and a plastic sword?
But by the time Agar announced the show’s February 26 debut, the mayor was none too keen on his press clips, which aptly mirrored his increasingly bleak political fate. Ever since the new year, a small band of independent councillors had been leading an open revolt, dealing him a series of humiliating defeats, first on his budget, then on his cherished subway-building agenda. No matter how he tried to spin it, one conclusion was unavoidable: the mayor was increasingly isolated on his own council.
In Conservative backrooms across the city, there was undisguised consternation. Ford’s predecessors, David Miller and Mel Lastman, would never have allowed themselves to lose such key power struggles, especially so early in their first terms. Ford was becoming an embarrassment—one who could do lasting damage to the party as a whole. “There are only so many votes you can lose,” says a prominent Tory advisor who asked for anonymity, “and then you end up becoming sort of neutered.”
Doug Ford was not going to let that happen. “We’re street fighters,” he had bristled after one council dust-up, and he had decided to take the battle over subways—and the future of his brother’s mayoralty—to the streets. Shortly after the budget vote, he went to Newstalk 1010 with his plans for the Rob and Doug show. Borrow-ing a page from an American playbook—that of another populist icon named Ronald Reagan—he saw the radio show as a platform to bypass both council and the media, making their case directly to the people. As his brother’s long-time campaign manager, he was also positioning the show as the launching pad for the mayor’s re-election bid three years down the road. No other candidates had yet appeared in their sights, but Rob Ford was firing the first salvos in what amounted to a permanent campaign. He was taking on all comers, including the entire ornery city council and Premier Dalton McGuinty, who, he warned, risked “political suicide” by daring to thwart his subway plans.
As the Fords clamped on their headphones in the Newstalk studios, they were in a combative mood that matched the station’s promos: “Up next,” an announcer trumpeted, “the polarizing Ford brothers!” True to form, Doug was the first to speak. “Here’s the big guy,” he said, turning the mike over to his kid brother. “Fasten your seat belt, because we’re going for a ride.” For the next 15 minutes, however, that ride was disconcertingly pedestrian, even sophomoric, meandering through the brothers’ biographies as if they’d found themselves caught in job interviews. Then they finally got to the point, urging listeners to mount a grassroots campaign that would force their foes to relent. “Call your local councillor, call your MPP,” the mayor exhorted. “Get straight in their face and tell them you don’t want streetcars. You want subways.”
The show was meant to recapture Rob Ford’s heyday on The John Oakley Show, which had transformed him from an oddball Etobicoke councillor into a frustrated everyman with a canny knack for revving up listeners’ outrage, but this return to the electronic bully pulpit felt different. There was an air of improvised desperation about it, part revenge, part whistling in the dark. Indeed the show seemed like a startling act of bravado for a man who had been regarded only months earlier as the Teflon mayor—a leader with such stratospheric approval ratings that prime ministers had come courting and few councillors had dared challenge his legislative course.
Tuning in, I couldn’t help wondering what had happened. How had Ford let such a massive electoral mandate slip away so swiftly, reducing him to this: an outsider on his own council, trying to drum up support over the Sunday afternoon airwaves?
50 thoughts on “Get a sneak peek at our May cover story: Rob Ford and the weirdest mayoralty in Toronto history”
Ahahaha… Love it…. but y ou can bet I would certainly not even pay $1.99 to read it..Thank god its free!
I would have Photoshopped a height scale on the wall behind Rob, if I knew his height and I was the editor.
boy , toronto life sure knows how to alianate ford nation.
see how your circulation is this month. That should give you an good indication of how wrong this article is about Rob Ford as a popular political figure.
@tm, Ford nation can’t read
Subways subways subways! Yeah baby! We’re street fighters!
… or spell apparently. “Alianate”?
@Pawe-you are a moron,if you have nothing good to say keep your idiot comments to yourself
This is not even a PDF when you get through the paywall — it’s a Flash file. Do not buy.
We’re having temporary technical difficulties with the PDF option. We’re working on it now, and it should be fixed soon. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you’ve encountered any problems.
The Morning Show interview with this author Ms. McDonald was very good. She indicated that Rob Ford is well handled and controlled (as Ronald Reagan was) by an ex- Canadian Armes Forces guy who has been on Fords campaign trail named Mark Toohey. Who is Mark Toohey? Hey Mark, Toronto is a great city with good services and the public want to keep it that way.
The weirdest mayoralty in the history of the city, indeed. Toronto has a mayor, who with his councillor/handler brother, don’t give a damn about the city. Toronto has a mayor who’s a polarizing presence in every which way. Toronto has a mayor with no sense, no savvy, no intelligence, no leadership skill, no vision, no strategic vision whatsoever, compounded by a complete inability or lack of interest in work with others unless they’re carrying a football, baseball or hockey stick. Or lingerie. In the case of football, the game and the lingerie are together…
The union negotiations notwithstanding (unions aren’t stupid: there’s no public sympathy for them anymore: striking is a dumb thing to do) Ford has done nothing except wreak conflict and perfect the art of snarky sound bites and quotes. Luckily, he is only one vote on city council. Luckily, everyone on city council is smarter than him by great orders of magnitude. Still, the weirdest mayoralty in the city’s history is doing a lot of damage to the city not only today, but for a long time to come, and none of it is going to save anyone any money.
There you go again with your typos, Toronto Life.
The subtitle is supposed to read “The inside story of the worst mayoralty in Toronto history”.
Get a proofreader, please.
Weird? You know what I find weird. Six week garbage strikes. Thanks David Miller! What a legacy of waste you left us.
Weird is too positive of a description of Robby and his bro. Bizarre, idiotic, embarrassing, imbecile, moronic, dumb, fatuous are more appropriate in describing our mayor and his brother. Let`s compare him to the mayor of Calgary who was elected at the same time as Robby. Let`s measure both their accomplishments at the end of each`s term.
The humiliating collapse of Doug Ford’s Port Lands vision came before the budget.
cute picture, I’ll put it with the other pictures of Ford hanging by my bed (aka my pile of hay).
I love the fake surprise members of the left wing media establishment portray at Rob Ford having lost popularity, after their having spent the last year waging a media campaign against him the likes of which no Toronto mayor has ever seen.
Toronto Life, Toronto Star, CBC Toronto. They’re all cut from the same Leside / upper-middle class cloth. John Cruickshank, current publisher of The Star is the former head of CBC news.
It’s a veritable human centipede of symbiotic sh*t eating watching these media outlets ingest and excrete the same narrative.
“comedian” Mary Walsh? I thought Mary Walsh was a female..
why would anyone pay for left wing trash, when they can get 24/7 on the cbc? Thats why I cancelled my subscription..
I’m with Veronika… Miller was horrible!!!
Ford nation is going to be mad! All seven of them. With their votes nailed down, RF might get %25 next election (the percentage of voters you can count on to be loonie)
You expect people to pay $1.99 after a lame tease like that. If the rest of the article mirrors the first few paragraphs you should be paying us for the amount of our time we wasted reading them.
I still support our Mayor and would vote for him again tomorrow. His effectiveness has been limited by a Council that is more focussed on humilating the Mayor than improving our lives. In contrast, he is acting in good faith and wants to improve the City of Toronto. Why else would a multi-millionaire put himself in the line of fire of a bunch of biased, misinformed and unsophisticated naysayers.
Weirdest yes….. but far from worst!
It looks like Ford Nation is at least semi-literate… at least @David could type some letters. Too bad he couldn’t even spell out all five letters in “Pawel” in his oh-so-insulting comeback, nor find room for a comma. Poor punctuation just screams “respect mah authoritaah”, doesn’t it?
Yes @Rah Abasd, it’s all a big unfounded conspiracy by these horrible educated and respected news sources to attack the poor, misunderstood mayor for no good reason. Yes, that’s a viable accusation. Totally valid argument! Way to go!
You are a I-D-I-O-T .Is that enough letters for you?
I forgot the punctuation.
You are a I-D-I-O-T !!!!!
nice article but $1.99? get real! you’d make millions if you sold it for 25 cents.
it’s AN I-D-I-O-T
as used in a sentence like such:
david, like all ford lap dogs, is AN idiot
I agree with TM, Toronto Life continues to relentlessly trash Rob Ford, and it is one of the prevailing reasons that I chose not to renew my subscription to Toronto Life (that and the excess socialist content). I rarely hear anyone trash Rob Ford – except for people on welfare and the select few in this city who are too socialist to be, well, social.
Toronto Life, please grow up and start writing about, well, life in Toronto. That’s probably best accomplished by getting rid of your staff writers. Start writing interesting articles and you might see a rebound in subscriptions numbers.
You seem to know a lot about idiots. I wonder why?
You and Jess are so worried about spelling and mocking people maybe you should use your energy towards helping the city get out of its financial mess.
Who is going to lead Toronto when Ford leaves Adam Vaughan?
I don’t live in Toronto but with closed minded idiots like you I feel sorry for your city’s future.
I don’t know why Calgarians are so proud that they elected the first Muslim mayor in Canada. Big deal. In Toronto we are so broad minded that we elected the first mentally disabled mayor in Canada. Now that’s tolerance!
if you don’t live in the city, don’t tell those of us who do how it should be run. keep your cheap partisan rhetoric to whatever part of the country you come from and worry about what happens in your own backyard.
re: TM- havent you looked at the ratings, nobody in Toronto prpoer voted for Ford to begin with, so Toronto Life will either A. Sell more magazines because Torontoians think Ford is an idiot and this article supports that or B. Sell more magaizines papers because Torontians think Ford is an idiot and wouldnt waste their time reading something we already know all too well.
David: if you dont live in Toronto I dont think its appropriate for you to comment. I’d put money on the fact that your some suburban commuter, using our roads, enjoying our culture and activities, reaping all CITY benefits then running back to your ugly suburban cookie cutter house. Te only reason why the city is in a financial mess is because of the the suburbs that are sucking the life and money out of us.
JL- not sure what YOU read, but nobody has athing good to say about Ford. I guess you’ll have to stop reading all together. Toronto Life writes very interesting articles about TORONTO LIFE. You mustnt actually live in Toronto, or for sure you would be able to relate and enjoy some aspects of it
I lived in Toronto for over 30 wonderful years and I feel it is still the best place to live in Canada. I do use your roads but only to continue to support the many wonderful resturants I supported for the years I lived there. I only want the city to continue to be one of best cities in not only Canada but the world.
Matt- Since you were so worried about my grammer and punctuation,I just want to inform you that your keyboard does have capital letters.
i adore that here we have some who loathe TL yet feel the narcissistic drive to comment on the Mag and make it oh so clear that YOU won’t be renewing your Subscription (as if they will change things for you, precious). Hate all u want but have fun on ur conjugal visits with Ford , the man with no plan.
If ur unhappy go read the Sun (except they also turned on him).
Anything is better than Miller ….except Adam Vaughan who is another rendition of Miller..Hope he doesnt run in the next election :P
$2.00 for one article? Doesn’t the whole magazine cost around $6.00. Is there a revenue problem at Toronto Life?
I don’t agree with everything he says and does but do believe he is entitled to privacy in his own home.
Peace and love hippies
Remind me, what is the exact procedure on how to recall a Toronto mayor?
Dear Toronto Life,
Know your own readership. You are a lifestyle publication. Stick to reviewing restaurants and looking down your nose at the people in this city who don’t spend their days on Queen and Dundas W. I am not an apologist for Mayor Ford, however, unlike the people who walk the halls of your offices, I have gotten over the fact that he won the last municipal election. I am at a loss to determine what is sadder here: the people who come here for your take on this city’s political landscape, or your feeble attempt to enter the political arena.
Still Looking for Your Credibility
I had the opportunity of purusing the full story this morning- having read it, I am no closer to understanding the mayoralty oaf now, than I was before. The man likes football, hot babes and hates the Toronto Star. Big news. Obviously he hates his new job, too. It does underline the fact that RobandDoug have had a pretty sweet life so far, and because of that have no empathy or understanding for anyone else. Maybe they will resign. I really am not looking forward to the Royal visit at all. I wonder how Rob will find the opportunity to be a royal jackass.
I occasionally buy Toronto Life at the newsstand, but I would not want this neanderthal’s goofy mug looking up at me from my coffee table. Bad cover idea.
I had to rip the cover off of this issue because I could not stand looking at that ugly fat face!
This actually is often a fine article. A lot of thanks for
spending some time to detail this all out for all of us.
It’s a great guide!
Here is my homepage; reverse phone lookup
display cabinets with transparent glass would be that the
best thing to keep your stuff,,
my homepage: reverse phone lookup
Ive been gone for some time, in spite of this now I remember why I used to love this web
site. Thank you, Ill try and check back more frequently.
How often do you update your website
Check out my blog post reverse phone lookup
Comments are closed.