Breaking news from Twitter:
Canada In World (breaking) News: @ABC Just in: Rob Ford drops out of Toronto mayor race, brother Doug Ford will run in his place
— Nahlah Ayed (@NahlahAyed) September 12, 2014
From the Canadian Press:
A Toronto hospital says Mayor Rob Ford has been hospitalized after being given a “working diagnosis of a tumour.” Humber River Hospital says in a statement that Ford attended the hospital earlier Wednesday complaining of abdominal pains that have “persisted for at least three months” but worsened in the last day. It says an examination and investigation has resulted in the “working diagnosis” of a tumour and that he has been admitted “for further investigation to obtain a definitive diagnosis.”
Yikes. I’ll update this post with more links later this evening.
From The Guardian:
What was once Canada the cool, the country a 1991 Economist cover story called the “post-modern nation-state”, has now devolved into a rightwing hellhole. Ford was elected in 2010, one year prior to Canada’s Conservative party winning a majority in the national parliament. Since then, Harper, a man who once referred to global warming as “a socialist conspiracy”, has pushed Canada’s policies sharply to the right.
Canada now has tough-on-crime legislation that includes strict minimum sentences – enacted despite the advice of some American Republican lawmakers, who pointed out that similar legislation south of the border has been expensive and ineffectual. Harper moved to dismantle the long-gun registry, which was brought in after a brutal 1989 mass shooting left 14 women dead at the hands of a deranged gunman. The registry was ended despite the pleas of victims-rights groups and police officers, who almost unanimously supported it.
But Canada’s ideological reversal of fortune is perhaps most devastating when one considers environmental issues. Under the previous Liberal government, Canada had been one of the key architects of the Kyoto protocol; Harper’s Conservatives officially withdrew Canada from the protocol, and instead are championing Alberta’s tar sands, a development many predict will have a catastrophic impact. In an announcement in November that was eclipsed by the Ford soap opera, the Washington, DC-based Center for Global Development ranked 27 countries in terms of their commitment to environmental protection. Canada came in 27th.
This has been us for a while, actually. Politicians who pander to selfishness, petty small-government politics, a growing gap between the rich and the poor, tax cuts and balanced budget fetishism while children go hungry, social program cuts, the whole disgusting Mike Harris era in Ontario, union-bashing, science-bashing, teacher-bashing, art-bashing… ugh.
It’s been a long time since Canada has been a country that imagines better things. It’s been a long time since Canada was “nice”.
Resolution: I’m going to put extra effort into making my minuscule bit of this nation better in 2014. Because a country without dreams or hope is a doomed, rotting carcass.
From the National Post:
A trainer who consulted with Rob Ford as recently as Tuesday night on a health “game plan” was convicted in the U.S. for steroid trafficking and is currently in the midst of a 12-year ban from coaching in Canada for administering steroids.
Well, who are we to stand between an ex-con and his livelihood? All the best to misters Ford and Moscariello in this endeavour.
Andrew Coyne has written a very good and entertaining piece for the National Post:
This is the hardest thing I have ever done. This has been the worst experience of my entire life. Believe me, no one feels more badly about this than I do. How could this have happened to me?
I just want all the facts to come out. I’m just trying to get to the bottom of all this. I am prepared to answer everyone’s questions. I am prepared to speak with certain hand-picked media. But first let’s let the police do their work. Let’s see all the evidence. Let’s release all the documents. And then let’s let my lawyers move for a mistrial.
About my expense claims. We’re still trying to piece together what happened, but it seems that, yes, in the crush of a very busy schedule, some receipts marked “personal” or “private” may have been inadvertently mixed in with some other receipts marked “business” or “naughty.” And I pledge to you today that every penny of these expenses will be repaid, with interest, out of the proceeds of future expense claims.
It goes on and on and you’ve got to read the whole hilarious, sarcastic and sad column. One additional point: the major politicians in scandal-land have strong connections to the federal Conservative party. That’s probably not a popular thing to point out. Too bad. It’s true, and it says something important about the rotten, cheating, lying, hateful and stupid political culture Stephen Harper has built.
I just can’t get offended by it. I think it’s hilarious. And frankly, without knowing the context, there’s anything scandalous about it.
Ford has moments of being genuinely entertaining. I hate his politics — his attacks on city workers, cyclists, pedestrians, etc., his demagoguery about “elites”, his “war on cars” bullshit — and I’m alarmed by his criminal connections. And yes, he’s making Torontonians look like idiots for electing him. He needs to go. For his own sake, too.
But this video just makes me laugh.
He’s not talking about literally murdering someone. It’s just an amusing potty-mouthed rant. I do those too, and people like ’em.
Ha ha ha ha ha! Hey, actually, this is pretty good:
On the surface, Toronto looks better than ever. Because of our well-regulated banking system, we had an extremely mild recession. Toronto recently passed Chicago in population, and the quality of life is high, with good public schools, good free hospitals and a government that combines meaningful regulation with open markets. Toronto is basically the model of what a postindustrial city can be.
And yet the city is divided and angry. Mr. Ford has played off its fissures perfectly. City Hall is broken — a result of a disastrous amalgamation undertaken by provincial conservatives. And our failed system of government has had serious consequences. The subway system is frozen in time at approximately 1980, and a Torontonian’s average commute has recently surpassed that of an Angeleno.
Despite his racist slurs and his sister’s connection with the Ku Klux Klan, Mr. Ford’s support exists principally in the immigrant-heavy neighborhoods on the outer edges of the city, and he has built his support on the basis of their alienation. He speaks the language of thrift and outsider status to the powers that be — City Hall and the media. He has insisted on subways being built in those outlying neighborhoods rather than much more sensible light rail proposals — he insists they should get exactly what the fancy people get in the heart of the city. The rage against the old elites is evidently profound and resilient.
I love smart writers and newspapers. Ford Nation, not so much. I guess I’m just another dirty elitist.
From the Toronto Star:
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has admitted that he used crack cocaine while in office.
“Yes, I have smoked crack cocaine,” Ford told reporters outside his office. “But no, do I, am I an addict? No. Have I tried it? Probably in one of my drunken stupors, probably approximately about a year ago. I answered your question. You ask the question properly, I’ll answer it. Yes, I’ve made mistakes. All I can do now is apologize and move on.”
Ford said he did not know the exact circumstances of his crack use.
“I don’t even remember,” he said. “Some of the stuff that you guys have seen me, the state I’ve been in? It’s a problem.”
Ford’s bombshell concession may end his political career. He said in May that he does not smoke crack — using the present tense — but steadfastly refused to answer when asked repeatedly if he had ever smoked crack or done so while in office.
“I wasn’t lying. You didn’t ask the correct questions,” he said. “No, I’m not an addict and no I do not do drugs. I made mistakes in the past and all I can do is apologize but it is what it is. And I can’t change the past and I can apologize to my family, my friends, my colleagues and the people of this great city.”
Toronto’s crack-smoking mayor addresses the media:
“I have no reason to resign. I’m going to go back, I’m going to return my phone calls, I’m going to be out doing what the people elected me to do, and that’s save taxpayers’ money,” he said with a smile as he stood at the doors to his office, which has been decorated with skeletons and cobwebs for Halloween.
I love Rob Ford so very, very much.
Exiled Conservative senator and former Conservative fund-raiser Mike Duffy is now accused of paying a friend $65,000 for what is technically known as “???”. The friend, former TV technician Gerald Donohue, says he did “internet research and provided verbal advice” to Duffy, which RCMP Cpl. Greg Horton said he believes was “little or no apparent work.” From CBC:
The documents show there might be more to the Duffy investigation than just his living allowance. The RCMP need Duffy’s banking records to prove where the $65,000 went, Horton wrote, because Donohue says he never saw any of it, and that it went to his business. The money was paid by cheque, the court documents state. “The supporting documentation relating to the bank transactions will assist investigators in identifying where the money went after it was deposited, and who received the money if Donohue did not,” Horton wrote. The affidavit also notes that Nigel Wright, who was Harper’s chief of staff until he resigned over a report that he repaid $90,000 of Duffy’s Senate expenses out of his own pocket, turned over hundreds of pages of emails to investigators on Aug. 21.
Meanwhile, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford might be under police investigation and his driver and pal Alexander Lisi, who was arrested last week for drug trafficking, allegedly offered weed for the return of Ford’s stolen cellphone. Whuuuaaa? Don’t even know what to make of this (besides the fact that weed should be a legal recreational drug, not a currency for stolen goods).
In any case, Canada’ conservative politicians seem to be winning the political corruption arms race these days. Outside of Quebec, anyway.
Weyburn’s Walmart workers have voted to decertify:
The Weyburn decertification drive was the latest chapter in the fight between Wal-Mart and the union that’s been going on for nine years. Wal-Mart has long resisted unionization at its North American stores, and the Weyburn store is the only unionized Wal-Mart in Canada. Two other Canadian Wal-Marts have been certified in the past: the store at St. Hyacinthe, Que., and a store at Jonquière, Que. However, employees at the Hyacinthe outlet later voted to decertify, and Wal-Mart closed the Jonquière store.
The Pamela Wallin case gets uglier and uglier:
Taxpayers footed the bill for Sen. Pamela Wallin to attend meetings about buying a business and a new book project, as well as with someone from the New York City Ballet — and she may yet be ordered to pay them back. But it will likely be a while before the Senate’s finance committee has a clear picture of just how much of Wallin’s nearly $21,000 in additional travel expenses flagged in a damning independent audit ought to be reimbursed.
Rob Ford surrounds himself with interesting people:
Lisi’s criminal record includes convictions for threatening death to one woman, and assault and threatening bodily harm to a second woman. He entered into a peace bond with a third woman who accused him of assault and threatening death. He also has been charged three times with drug possession. Only one of those charges led to a conviction, for which he was given an absolute discharge. Lisi has told three associates interviewed by the Star that he is a supplier of drugs to Ford. The Star has been unable to verify Lisi’s claims, and Ford has not responded to questions about this sent by the Star on Monday.
Conservative Canada: catch the fever!
Okay, it might sound like a stretch to say that an iPhone video of a very drunk-seeming Toronto mayor Rob Ford wandering the streets of his city during last night’s Taste of Danforth proves conclusively that Bigfoot doesn’t exist but hear me out.
For a long time now there have been rumours of drunken Rob Ford showing up at public events and making an ass of himself but so far the only evidence we’ve had that publicly drunken Rob Ford exists are some eye-witness accounts and some blurry, unflattering photos.
In other words, it’s exactly the same kind of evidence as we have for Bigfoot. Or the Ogopogo or the Skunk Ape or any other cryptid.
And so a serious and sober Mayor Rob Ford and his serious and sober staff have been able to deny the existence of Publicly Drunken Rob Ford Embarrassing Himself (and allegedly grabbing a female politician’s backside and maybe possibly even smoking crack) because the evidence is so flimsy.
“Oh, those people are just out to get me,” he can say. Or, “The Star has a vendetta against my family.” Or, “That picture just caught my bad side.”
And then one can point to this graph from the very excellent webcomic xkcd and say, “If everybody’s walking around with iPhones all the time why hasn’t anyone captured this mythical Drunken Rob Ford on video? Seeing as they haven’t, he must not exist. Or, at least, he isn’t as drunk as all these haters, rumourmongers and Star reporters are saying.”
Well, now someone has. Actually, now A LOT of people have captured what appears to be the elusive Drunken Rob Ford on video and posted his hilarious antics on Youtube for all to see. (There are eyewitness reports and more video and pictures at Now Magazine.)
What’s next? Will we get video of Texting And Driving Rob Ford? Ass Grabbing Rob Ford? Smoking Crack And Saying Racist Things Rob Ford? Who knows?
Meanwhile, poor Bigfoot. Because, as Drunken Rob Ford has shown, if something exists, it will eventually wind up on Youtube. And if cryptids were real, we’d have crystal clear video of Bigfoot arm-in-arm with drunken back-country hikers. There’d be shakily framed footage of American tourists feeding stout to the Loch Ness Monster. We’d all be laughing at the one where the Chupacabra is dressed up like a shark and riding a Roomba.
But none of those things are on Youtube so it’s a safe bet none of those creatures exist either. Drunken Rob Ford, on the other hand, is as real as the coelacanth and giant squid.
The Future is indeed a strange and marvellous time in which to be living.
1 DID TORIES PLAN TO PICK UP DUFF’S TAB? The Conservatives are alleged to have planned to pay Mike Duffy’s sketchily claimed living expenses until they found out they were enorrrrrmous. And that’s when Harper’s ex-chief of staff, Nigel “chequebook” Wright, stepped in. The Globe And Mail has a concise summary of the issues raised here.
2 EGYPTIAN SOLDIERS INVOLVED IN “SOFT COUP” SHOOT PROTESTERS The coup has been viewed as not totally terrible since the deposed government was religious rather than secular and had re-written the country’s constitution to have more Allah in it, but this is not confidence-inspiring. Barb Saylor, who on Wednesday wrote “I don’t think that a military coup is ever a good thing” is proved right. Also: the African Union has suspended Egypt’s membership. Bonus also: here’s a Postmedia story on Canada and coups.
3 BOXING BUDDIES Liberal leader Justin Trudeau and former Regina mayor Pat Fiacco will go to the North Central Family Centre gym together and hopefully punch one another.
4 TRAYVON MARTIN MURDER TRIAL Continuing.
6 SPORTZ NEWZ It’s NHL free agency fun day! Danial Alfredsson signs with the Red Wings, Mike Ribeiro signs with Phoenix, Ray Emery signs with Philly and Evgeni Nabokov re-inks with the Islanders, Nathan Horton signed with Columbus and there’s lots more action actioning. Oh and there’s some kind of sport event in Regina tonight.
VIDEO: ROB FORD, COST COWBOY Some satirical genius/concussed doofus made a YouTube!
CTV says police knew about the “that sure looks like Rob Ford smokin’ crack” video before Gawker and the Toronto Star reported on itsexistence:
CTV News has learned that Toronto Police were investigating the existence of an alleged video involving Mayor Rob Ford, several weeks before the story first appeared in the Toronto Star. As part of the investigation leading to the raids on Thursday, officers obtained telephone wire-tap evidence. A highly-placed source confirms to CTV News that on those wiretaps, persons of interest discussed that video in detail, and referred to the mayor’s alleged presence in the video. CTV News has not seen the video, and cannot confirm its existence or authenticity.
More here. This is likely more trouble for Ford, who’s been busy lately voting against gay festivals and cultural events and institutions, presumably because he’s a gigantic dick who panders to the stupid, selfish douchebag vote.
In other political news, the RCMP have launched a criminal investigation into the $90,000 cheque Nigel Wright gave to Senator Mike Duffy and NDP leader Thomas Mulcair apparently thinks he’s too important to follow the rules.
In case anyone’s wondering, Peakay and Aquarabbit have been eliminated from the two-week pool because their time slots passed without Ford resigning or dying. Still alive: April Bee, commentator Brad, Paul Dechene and John Cameron. I’m hanging in too but only because I bought the “Rob Ford Gets Arrested” bonus square.
Frankly, and I don’t like typing this, it’s looking pretty good for Cameron right now. He was smart to bid high on the “Ford Lasts More Than Two Weeks” bonus square.
In other Canada’s shittiest mayor news, Ford just hired his radio producer to work for him in the resignation-plagued mayor’s office. Relevant career skills include DJ-ing and being a lifeguard.
Which brings us to this past Friday, when the intermediary called to tell me that he had finally heard from the owner. And his message was: “It’s gone. Leave me alone.” It was, the intermediary told me, a short conversation.
“It’s gone” could mean many things. It might mean that the video has been destroyed. It might mean that it has been handed over to Ford or his allies. It might mean that he intends to sell or give it to a Canadian media outlet. It might mean that the Toronto Police Department has seized it and plans to use it as evidence in a criminal investigation. It might mean that it has been transferred to the custody of Somali community leaders for safekeeping. It might be a lie. The intermediary doesn’t know. Neither do I.
I do know that Gawker is currently sitting on $184,689.81 collected via our Rob Ford Crackstarter. (That’s $201,254 raised in total, less $8,365.23 in fees extracted by PayPal, $8,043.96 taken by Indiegogo, and $155 in contributions raised that we have yet to receive.) It is obviously our hope that someone steps up to claim this money and provides us the video.
I won’t be at all heartbroken if a Canadian addictions non-profit collects $184,689.81.
Well, more staff quit today. And Ontario’s information commissioner wrote Ford a stern letter about government transparency and Ford’s alleged orders to his staff delete e-mails. Oh, and we learned that Rob Ford , well, uh…
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford told senior aides not to worry about a video appearing to show him smoking crack cocaine because he knew where it was, sources told the Star.
Ford then blurted out the address of two 17th-floor units — 1701 and 1703 — at a Dixon Rd. apartment complex, to the shock of staffers at a city hall meeting almost two weeks ago, the sources said.
The mayor cited “our contacts” as the source of his information, according to insiders familiar with the unusual May 17 session in his office.
Staffers were alarmed by the implication of hearing so precise a location, sources said.
It’s all so wacky that even the “we don’t care about anything beyond our borders” U.S. media is following this page-turner of a tale.
And on top all all this, Ford says “everything’s fine” and not only is he not going to step down, he’s going to run again in the 2015 Toronto election. Well, that sure puts a dent in my “Rob For Quits/Dies/Gets Arrested Pool” chances. I have this afternoon and evening. There’s still time, Mr. Mayor! Help an editor win a couple bucks, wouldja?
It’s at (refreshes screen) $198,440 . Looks like some addictions non-profit is going to be $200,000 richer! Follow along at home here.
UPDATE: 1:48 p.m.: $198,642!
UPDATE 1:56 p.m.: Goaaaaal! And there it is, $200,246.
FINAL UPDATE: The closing tally is $251,254. Gawker editor John Cook posts about it:
The Crackstarter is now closed to further donations. We pulled in a total of $201,254 from 8,388 people. I haven’t contacted Indiegogo, the service that hosted the campaign, yet to investigate precisely when we get the money, in what format, etc. (As I write this, the Indiegogo web site is not cooperating with my attempts to get that info.) I do know that Indiegogo and PayPal extract certain fees before turning the proceeds over to us; we will post an update announcing the total amount that has been released to us as soon as we get it.
As for the purchase: We are working on it. As we noted before the campaign concluded, we lost contact with the people who have custody of the video. I updated the Indiegogo campaign site yesterday morning to reiterate that there had been no movement on that front, and am repeating it here right now. You won’t hear anything more from us about our attempts to get the video for some time. This will be a very delicate transaction. If the people who are in possession of the video are reading this: Please get in touch with our mutual friend, or with me at email@example.com. We did what you asked.