Toronto’s City Council was preparing Monday to place substantial checks on the authority of Rob Ford, the city’s embattled mayor who has admitted to using crack and driving while intoxicated. Ford has refused to step down, nor has he avoided public attention. He gave an interview and attended a football game Sunday, and “Ford Nation,” the mayor’s new television show, will debut on the Sun News Network tonight at 8 p.m.
The council cannot remove Ford from his post entirely unless he is convicted of a crime. While the city’s police chief has said that authorities have recovered footage of the mayor apparently using a crack pipe, he also said that police do not have sufficient evidence to press charges.
Despite the continuing scandals, Ford retains some supporters:
In 2010 Ford won election mostly on his campaign promise to “Stop The Gravy Train” of coddled bureaucrats, decadent city councilors, and municipal unions — all of whom, in Ford’s eyes, were draining the city of its lifeblood. He was the last angry man, who respected the taxpayer’s hard-earned dollar above all else, and tapped into a sense of frustration from those left behind by the city’s rapid growth. Housing was absurdly expensive for many, commutes were excruciatingly long, and home buyers despised the land transfer tax that Ford’s left-wing predecessor, David Miller, had instituted to reduce the city’s deficit. Ford promised to lower property taxes, slash city spending, clip the wings of unions, and bring a sense of fiscal discipline and private-sector professionalism to the city, all without cutting city services.
Though his political base — known Ford Nation, a Tim Horton’s-loving answer to the Tea Party — rested with working- and middle-class voters, especially in the city’s newly absorbed inner suburbs, Ford garnered support from conservatives of all stripes, including partners at white-shoe law firms, wealthy real estate developers, and immigrant entrepreneurs. “We look at him as a bulwark against the overreaching imposition and government power and control and expense,” says Neil Flagg, owner of the online shop Sports Poster Warehouse, and the founder of the I Hate the War on Mayor Rob Ford Facebook page. “This is why he still hits the nail on the head and why I’ll defend him to the political death: because he respects the money we send to him.”
“Ford Nation” will feature the mayor and his brother, who will give their own account of their decisions directly to viewers, Sun News Vice President Kory Teneycke said. Ford will also appear on CNN at the same time tonight in an interview with Anderson Cooper.