News / Toronto

Mayor Rob Ford pays unannounced visit to East York school

Mayor Rob Ford paid an unannounced and uninvited visit to an East York middle school Wednesday afternoon, drawing ire from the local trustee.

Ford appeared at Gordon A. Brown Middle School shortly 2 p.m. Toronto District School Board trustee Sheila Cary-Meagher said he had planned to visit his cousin, who teaches there but was off Wednesday.

Cary-Meagher and TDSB spokesman Ryan Bird said Ford went to the office and asked for the person he was to visit, appropriately following policy.

According to Cary-Meagher, “When he found out she wasn’t there he walked down the hall distributing his card and fridge magnets to all and sundry.”

“I’m going to talk about it with the director and the chair, but if he starts showing up at schools, I would request that we do a cease-and-desist order,” the trustee said.

Bird, however, said the mayor’s visit was “very brief” and he only handed out one business card. “I think he ran into a couple people in the hallway, said hello, and he left.”

The TDSB spokesman said he didn’t know who the mayor had planned to visit, but noted there are policies in place to prevent visitors from handing out materials like fridge magnets. He said the visit lasted “five minutes or so.”

Cary-Meagher said the visit happened while she was at a meeting at a nearby school. Her understanding of events was that Ford wandered the halls for about 15 minutes, passing out his business card and magnets to anyone who passed by before leaving the school, near St. Clair Ave. E. and Victoria Park Ave.

“I’ve been a trustee on and off for nearly 30 years and I’ve never heard of such a thing, where one relative visits another relative during business hours, uninvited,” said Cary-Meagher, who noted that even though the mayor’s cousin was not at school, the principal would have been informed of a planned visit by the chief magistrate.

The mayor arrived at city hall around 3 p.m. Wednesday and never spoke to reporters. His new chief of staff, Dan Jacobs, said he hadn’t heard about the school visit.

Ward 31 Councillor Janet Davis said the impromptu visit to a school in her ward was strange.

“I think it’s quite odd behaviour and certainly not appropriate, considering the amount of turmoil that has surrounded him these days,” she said.

School field trips to city hall have been suspended in the wake of the crack cocaine scandal enveloping the mayor. Until Nov. 29, all school field trips will be rerouted to the city archives.

Earlier this year, the Toronto Catholic District School Board fired Ford as coach of the Don Bosco Eagles and banned him from coaching at any Catholic school in Toronto. Ford was also let go from a previous coaching position in the TDSB.

As the scandal has unfolded over the past week, organizations sought to distance themselves from the embattled mayor, who had most of his powers stripped from him by council. Among others, the organizers of the Santa Claus Parade asked him not to march in last Sunday’s event.

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