Toronto Mayor Rob Ford hires new staff, but where his friends at?

During a weekly radio show hosted alongside his brother, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford said he had hired four new staff to work in his office.

As Toronto Mayor Rob Ford reloads his office staff with new acolytes, it is nice to know that at least one seasoned politician is also willing to have his name tied to the mayor at the heart of crack video allegations.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty came out on side of Ford on Monday, saying they have had "personal" talks since he was accused of being videotaped smoking from a crack pipe.

“I’ve spoken with the mayor and I’ve spoken with members of his family,” Flaherty told CBC News. “I’m very close to the family and I won’t comment further on that.”

It is very nice of him to admit to a personal conversation with the mayor. But this is a man who was close friends and tight allies with Ford's father during their time in provincial politics.

He supported Ford's mayoralty, supported his mandate. Could he go no further than admit they recently spoke privately?

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When Ford was elected mayor in 2010, he became the shiny new toy that federal and provincial Conservatives wanted to play with. There's a video out there of Prime Minister Stephen Harper hanging out at Ford's annual barbecue and celebrating him as a beachhead for the Conservative movement in Toronto.Ford calls Harper his “fishing partner” and Harper calls the Ford family a “great Conservative dynasty.”

Harper hasn't said boo about Ford since the crack video scandal broke. Of course, he's had his own headaches to focus on.

And then there is the provincial Progressive Conservative Party, which just weeks ago was touting brother Doug Ford as an attractive candidate they were excited to see run provincially.

More recently, however, PC House Leader Jim Wilson said he doesn’t even know Doug Ford, and on Tuesday Hudak avoided saying his name when asked about a potential candidacy.

Doug Ford's reaction was to say he wasn't overly interested in running provincially, anyway. Though the first-term city councillor has tossed his name into the mix every time an Ontario election is rumoured.

This waning interest in brothers Ford comes as the mayor cuts ties with much of his senior staff.

Quarterbacking chief of staff Mark Towhey was fired after reportedly urging the mayor to seek rehab and four other senior staff members resigned in the fallout from the crack allegations. Another staffer also left the Mayor’s Office, his exit said to have been planned for some time.

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In their place, Ford has hired four new young staffers of minimal experience to work as

The Toronto Star reports that Ford’s new office hires were made official with the public release of a new phone list. No celebration or congratulations. Just four “movers and shakers” that slid quietly into unnamed positions and got down to business.

According to the Globe and Mail, the new hires are:

  • Katrina Xavier Ponniah, a recent graduate from Mount Allison University

  • Victoria Colussi, who holds a theatre degree from Seneca College

  • Jonathan Kent, previously a financial security adviser

  • Rob Krauss, who has worked in Coun. Doug Ford’s office since November and also campaigned for Labour Minister Lisa Raitt.

It is unclear what role they will play – the Globe says they are all special assistants – but it is clear they won’t be replacing the senior staffers who fled the office.

There is also this intriguing quote, coming from former press secretary Adrienne Batra, who stepped down to take a position with the Ford-friendly Toronto Sun.

“During my time on his campaign and in the mayor’s office, I probably knew where he was about 50% of the time,” Batra recently told “He’d just disappear and you’d ask him where he was and he’d say, ‘Oh, around town.’”

Another former ally distancing herself from Ford? At least Flaherty is still willing to have his name linked to the embattled mayor.

Perhaps Ford’s fishing buddy will be next to lend his support.