The Mayor is a f-ing addict!
Rob Ford's former Chief of Staff dishes the inside story on the Toronto mayor's decline and fall
By Mark Towhey
and Johanna Schnellar
October 17, 2015
Tory Leader Stephen Harper poses with Ford families during Etobicoke rally
|Jenni Bryne looking for her next job?|
Rob Ford did not take the stage, nor did Harper shake his hand publicly, but the councillor later tweeted a family photo of himself and Doug with Harper
By Tonda MacCharles
/Ottawa Bureau Reporter
Saturday, October 17, 2015
In this picture posted on Councillor Rob Ford's Twitter account, Tory Leader Stephen Harper poses with Ford families during an Etobicoke rally Saturday.
Conservative campaign manager Jenni Byrne was behind the decision to stage a late-campaign rally
that put Conservative Leader Stephen Harper on the hustings with the Ford brothers, sources say.
A huge rally of Conservative candidates and supporters from across the GTA at the Toronto Congress Centre in north Etobicoke featured giant video projection screens, a prime speaking role for Doug Ford, and public thanks for the Fords from Harper, who hadn’t uttered the Ford brothers’ names all week. Harper urged the crowd to thank all the organizations and volunteers, “including the Fords,” who organized the event.
Rob Ford did not take the stage, nor did Harper shake his hand publicly, but the councillor later tweeted a family photo of himself and Doug with Harper.
Rob Ford @TorontoRobFord
Thank you @pmharper
it was great to see you tonight & the thousands of people who came #elxn42 #elxn
9:15 - 17 October 2015
It was the biggest Conservative rally of the campaign in the GTA, attended by more than 2,000 people, but a giant overflow room set up next door stood empty. Doug Ford had boasted on Tuesday he could get 5,000 people out for Harper if he wanted.
Some local organizers say it was a Hail Mary stunt that was not useful to the party’s fortunes because of the tarnished political brand of the Ford brothers. Rob Ford, the former mayor, had to go into rehab for his drug and alcohol addictions.
“It’s not helpful,” said one organizer who did not want to be identified.
Another Conservative denied the decision was Byrne’s and said too much is made of her influence on the campaign.
Doug Ford was the warm-up performer for Harper, a role usually handed to a local candidate as Harper tours the country. He warned the crowd Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau “would absolutely destroy” Canada, linking him to Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne. “God help this country. It would be an absolute disaster if Justin Trudeau and Kathleen Wynne were running this country.”
Doug Ford later told reporters the event was organized by the Conservative Party, not by him, but that the Fords just brought their family and friends.
Conservative spokesman Kory Teneycke declined later to comment on whose idea it was to stage the rally, saying it’s “not one person who makes decisions for the campaign,” and we “don’t talk about individual decisions . . . but it was a great event,” he added.
As Harper launched his final campaign swing westward on Saturday, he savaged Trudeau, now his main rival in Ontario, telling the Toronto Sun the Liberal leader’s economic plan “is all unicorns and rainbows.”
In Laval, Que., after a campaign rally, Harper was asked by reporters why he is hitching his campaign’s wagon this late in the game to the former Toronto mayor who admitted he’d smoked crack cocaine, made comments that are racially tinged, sexist and homophobic, and has called Trudeau a homophobic slur.
The Conservative leader did not address the question head-on, but referred to his own Etobicoke roots in defaulting back to his main political message in the dying days of the 78-day campaign.
“Our Conservative campaign from one end of the country to another, including the great area of Etobicoke which I grew up in as a teenager, is about making sure we keep our economy on track by lowering taxes, balancing (the) budget, keeping our spending under control, helping families and that’s what we’re going to be doing from now on.”
Later, he again deflected questions about the optics of campaigning with the Fords. “We’re trying to rally all people who believe in our cause,” Harper told CP24.
A senior Conservative told the Star the party believes there is political value in rallying the core “Ford Nation” voters and driving home the federal campaign’s message, no matter who the Fords are.
But not all those fighting to win ground in the GTA, where the party’s fortunes look dim in public polls showing a big Liberal lead, buy that. And some voters who showed up at the rally, like Jennifer Kosack, who said she was an undecided voter in Etobicoke-Lakeshore, were not impressed.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea, just because of the controversy” that surrounds the Fords, she said.
Kosack said it could drive some undecided voters out of the Conservative camp, but she said it didn’t influence her as she’s not impressed by celebrity endorsements for Harper or for Trudeau.
Ursula Hasan and her husband, Sam, who live in Etobicoke, attended the rally to help them make up their minds before Monday’s election. Ursula thought it was inappropriate for Harper to be seen with Rob Ford, whom she described as “a laughingstock.”
Jackie Bishop, who came from her home in Ajax for the rally, said she had no problem with Harper appearing with the Ford brothers. “They’re great Canadians,” she said. “They support the values of the prime minister.”
Vincente Vintimilla and his wife, Elizabeth, who was wearing a T-shirt with a picture of herself and Harper printed on it, also were not bothered by the Conservative leader’s association with the Fords.
The Fords “are very honest people,” said Vincente, who works in the public service. “When they offer something, they do it for the city.”
Earlier in the day, Harper rejected the notion that his publicly stated animus towards Trudeau’s father, former prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, has any impact on how he deals with Trudeau the son. Harper wrote a bitter critique of his father’s record in the National Post on Oct. 5, 2000, just two days after Pierre Trudeau was buried.
“I’ve always said that Justin Trudeau deserves to be judged on his own merits,” said Harper.
With files from Ben Spurr