Noose tightens around Rob Ford for using paid staff to help coach football

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Canada Politics

'Mama said there'd be days like this ... mama said, mama said.'

Right about now, that might be a tune going through Toronto Mayor Rob Ford's head — boy, is he having a bad day.

According to a Globe and Mail report, Toronto resident Jude MacDonald has filed a complaint with Toronto integrity commissioner Janet Leiper about Ford's use of municipal resources and staff for his youth football program.

The seven-page affidavit was submitted Thursday morning in response to news that the mayor's two taxpayer-funded 'special assistants' — Chris Fickel and Isaac Shirokoff — are listed as contacts on the Facebook page for Ford's Rexdale Raiders. Another 'special assistant', a former quarterback of the University of Toronto's Varsity Blues, was at a 3.30 p.m. practice on Tuesday, to to help Ford lead the Don Bosco Eagles in practice.

Ford's defence is that the staffers are volunteering their time and that he's just trying to "help kids."

But MacDonald says Ford must adhere to council's code of conduct.

The media aren't buying Ford's excuses either.

[ Related: Mayor Rob Ford chooses football over committee meeting ]

The Globe's Marcus Gee essentially calls Ford a hypocrite:

"Rob Ford built his political career on scrutinizing the use of taxpayers' money. Again and again in his 10-year run as a city councillor, he roasted other councillors for playing fast and loose with their office budgets and staff. He even went after them for serving sandwiches at evening council meetings.

If councillors or mayors can use their staff to work on their personal causes, where does it end? What would Mr. Ford have said, you have to wonder, if his predecessor David Miller had roped in his city-paid staff to help his private foundation promoting, say, green roofs."

The Toronto Star's Royson James gave us a good overview of Ford's career follies:

"[Ford] doesn't care what anybody thinks. He has a nose for trouble.

Drunk at a hockey game, he abused fans, lied about it, and then sheepishly apologized when found out.

He was busted for possession and caught drinking while driving in Florida. He lied about it when the Toronto Sun confronted him. But the voters forgave him and made him mayor.

As mayor, he is caught driving and using his phone, but is not sorry at all, ignoring the danger.

He is caught reading city documents while driving — and rebuffs every effort from staff and the police to get him a chauffeur.

Now this."

[ Related: Toronto mayor supports use of city phones for volunteer work ]

Even the Toronto Sun — usually Ford's biggest cheerleaders — are questioning his judgement.

"No one disputes Ford's passion for the game of football and helping kids, but does this give him a free pass to ignore and skirt rules and regulations he does not agree with?"

Ford has maintained his popularity with all the controversies and questionable comments over the past two years.

But this could cost him. Even if the integrity commissioner doesn't find anything wrong with this, the damage has been done.

Fiscal conservatism, standing up for the taxpayer and eliminating waste were all part of the man's shtick.

He's now lost his 'moral authority' on those issues and it doesn't look like the media is going to let him forget it.