News / Canada

Reality checking Rob and Doug Ford's U.S. media claims

Mayor Rob Ford and his brother, Councillor Doug Ford, have taken to the U.S. airwaves to plead their case as the tumult deepened.

Here’s a reality check on some of the claims the Fords were making south of the border.

  • Mayor Ford told Fox News he was elected with the largest majority in “candidate’s history” and would never wind up in a scandal like “our provincial senators up in Ottawa.”

Ford was elected mayor with 47 per cent of the votes. The voter turnout was around 52 per cent, the highest in the city's post-amalgamation history. There are no “provincial senators.”

  • Mayor Ford told Fox News politicians are mad at him for “taking their hands out of the cookie jar” and reducing“all their consultants and lobbyists that used to get tons of money.”

A Torstar News Service analysis of the city hall lobbyist registry showed three times more lobbyists registered in 2012 than 2010. The number of subjects they’re lobbying doubled in that period, and daily communications between lobbyists and politicians appeared to be 10 times higher in 2012 than 2009. Allegations of misconduct tripled.

  • Councillor Doug Ford declared his brother a “huge, massive social liberal” and said headlines called him “the White Obama” when he was elected.

Mayor Ford has voted against initiatives in social housing, HIV/AIDS prevention and what he termed “hug-a-thug” programs. There were no headlines referring to him as “the white Obama” in 2010, though National Post columnist Tasha Kheiriddin wrote a pre-election column with the headline, “Rob Ford: the Barack Obama of Toronto.” It didn’t say they shared political views but noted that each profited from frustration with the status quo. Mayor Ford also derided “left-wing tax-and-spend socialists” in a Fox interview.

  • Mayor Ford again touted his claim that he’s saved taxpayers a billion dollars in three years.

The Star has deconstructed that claim, as have other local media, and found it embellished. As the Star’s Daniel Dale has reported, that figure “relies on creative definitions of savings and taxpayers, exaggerations and omissions.”

  • Mayor Ford boasted of the lowest tax increase of any North American city.

Not true. While increases have been lower than average, Windsor has frozen taxes for five years and San Antonio, Texas, for 21 years.

  • Mayor Ford told Fox News he’s never missed a day of council nor been under the influence of alcohol or drugs at a council meeting or “any time in office.”

The mayor missed 494 of 3,334 votes in his first two years, more than 23 councillors. Police documents allege he was extremely intoxicated at city hall on St. Patrick’s Day last year. A former Ford staffer also told police that Ford was drunk at the office 15 or 20 times in a year, allegations that have not been proven in court.

  • Mayor Ford blamed “rich and elitist” people for his woes, calling them “the biggest crooks around.” He claimed to be looking out for the “the poor.”

By most standards, the Fords qualify as rich and elite. The family company employs over 200. Their father was an MPP and they have high-powered friends in politics.

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