‘Mayor Ford will get a driver’

August 16, 2012 - News

Councillor Doug Ford vows that, one way or another, he will convince his brother, Mayor Rob Ford, to start letting staff members drive him during work hours.
“If he’s prepping for the Chicago meeting, he should be prepping in the car while somebody’s driving him to work,” Councillor Ford told the Star on Thursday.
The councillor said he has bugged his brother since they took office in late 2010 to let his staff members drive him, at no extra cost to the city, for official duties.
Councillor Ford said he has raised it again since Tuesday, when a motorist snapped a photo of the mayor reading papers while driving his Cadillac SUV on the Gardiner Expressway. The mayor was en route to City Hall to make a speech announcing a Toronto “business mission” to Chicago next month.
The mayor, faced with his brother’s renewed demands, “says what he says all the time — ya, ya, ya,” Councillor Ford said.
“But we’ll make it happen one way or another. It’s beyond the point of ridiculous. There might be a little bit of dust-up but that’s okay, we’ll get it done.”
Asked why the mayor has been so stubborn on the point, Councillor Ford said: “I don’t have a clue, I really don’t know. I’m not too sure, I wish I could answer that. I wish I could answer a lot of questions.”
Toronto police have in recent years urged drivers to avoid distractions and keep their full attention on the road, saying distracted driving leads to needless injury and death.
But when Ford was asked at the Chicago announcements about the photo posted on Twitter, he shrugged it off, suggesting he was doing nothing wrong and saw no reason not to do it again.
“Yeah, probably. I’m busy,” Ford said when a reporter asked if it was indeed him reading and driving. “Yeah, probably, yeah. I’m trying to catch up on my work and you know I keep my eyes on the road, but I’m a busy man.”
Asked by the CFTO reporter if he didn’t think it was a problem to read while driving on the Gardiner, Ford replied: “Well, I’m busy. I got to be — I don’t know what that has to do with a trade mission, but anyways. Ridiculous questions sometimes, seriously.”
The photo and the mayor’s puzzled response diverted attention from his announcement about the Chicago trip and let to a chorus of voices urging him to let someone else take the wheel.
Numerous councillors including budget chief Mike Del Grande and economic development chair Michael Thompson have called on the mayor to accept a driver.
A Toronto police sergeant issued an unusual plea to the mayor, saying “no amount of money you are saving by not having (a driver) is worth the life of one of your citizens.”
On Wednesday, Police Chief Bill Blair added that he has had “some conversation with the mayor about the value of providing some security to him and some assistance, and I think there is value in having someone moving the mayor around. But that decision is entirely up to him.
“I think some of the difficulties that have been encountered might have been averted had there been some staff there to support him.”
Ford has run into trouble behind the wheel before.
Before being elected to council, he was convicted of drunk driving in Florida in 1999.
In June 2011, a woman said she and her 6-year-old daughter spied the mayor illegally talking on his cellphone while driving downtown and that, when they gave him a thumbs-down gesture, he gave them the finger.
Ford called the incident a “misunderstanding,” but soon began using a hands-free phone system.
This past June, Ford was confronted by a streetcar driver after he drove past the closed back doors of the vehicle when the front doors were open. A police spokesperson said it is safest to stop behind all streetcar doors but only illegal to drive past open doors.
— Torstar News Service