It appears the idea that Toronto has a "part-time mayor" has some merit, according to details from Rob Ford's itinerary that suggest the football-loving political flotsam spent most of his recent afternoons away from city hall or in personal meetings that had no relation to his role as city leader.
The Toronto Star cites internal itineraries, obtained through a freedom of information request, showing Ford took many afternoons off during the high school football season.
On most weekdays, his schedule listed nothing between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., with a "private" appointment following at 3:30 p.m. — that was when his Don Bosco Eagles held their football practices.
The Eagles lost 28-14 in the Metro Bowl championship game this week, one day after Ford was found to have violated the conflict of interest act in relation to the repayment of questionable funds collected for his personal football foundation.
Ford's love of the game has led to a litany of complaints during his time in office, including (but certainly not limited to) missing portions of a city council session and an executive council meeting to coach the team.
Here are some delightful quick quotes related to Ford's apparent absence from city hall over the years:
- Coun. Adam Vaughan: "He's not doing anything here, in fact he's doing very little, he barely even shows up for work."
- Coun. Doug Ford: "For anyone to say that you aren't working around the clock is frustrating."
- Coun. Giorgio Mammoliti: "With the previous mayor his criticism was he took everything on himself… In this mayor's case, he has chosen to delegate."
- Rob Ford: "I work harder than any person down there."
The Star reports that between August and the end of October, Ford's itineraries listed 69 private appointments, compared to 28 meetings or phone calls with people who were not constituents or staff members and 24 public appearances.
Ford has said only a fraction of his activities are listed on his itineraries. Which, at the very least, doesn't seem like good bookkeeping practices for the mayor of Canada's largest city.
Ford's listed activities included meetings or phone calls with Ontario PC Leader Tim Hudak, Brampton Conservative MP Parm Gill, a casino tycoon, leaders of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation, Toronto Argonauts executive Chris Rudge and activist and former boxer Spider Jones.
Afternoons off, lax schedules and private meetings with celebrity athletes. Where do I sign up?
And to top that all off, the Canadian Press reports that Ford still has the support of federal Conservatives, which is positive considering he may need their campaign machine if he launches a run in provincial politics, a possibility should his ouster from city hall survive appeal.
The potential mayoral vacancy has already captured the interest of several possible candidates, including brother Doug Ford, sometimes-Ford-ally Karen Stinz, who the National Post reports has hinted at a run, and NDP MP Olivia Chow.
Whether or not there will be a byelection still hinges entirely on the success of Ford's appeal, and what path council decides to follow to select a replacement. Still, the Toronto Star's Royson James notes an election could come this summer and would be a short, heated and expensive affair.
James says several councillors have hinted at, but not committed to a run, including Vaughan, Stintz, Ford, Shelley Carrol, Denzil Minnan-Wong and Michael Thompson.
It is not unexpected that so many people would have a passing interest in the position. And with those hours, who can blame them?