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WTF Wednesday: Rob Ford, again

Simon Treanor

It’s awkward enough having someone arrive uninvited to a party, but when that uninvited guest turns out to be the Mayor of Toronto, well… It seems that on Monday evening Rob Ford caused yet another social faux pas (among his previous ones: getting very drunk in public, loud racial insults, and smoking crack).

Ford arrived to the Toronto Region Board of Trade dinner on Monday, only to discover that his name was not in fact on the list, despite receiving an invitation for it last November. According to Scott Brownrigg, the director of public affairs for the Board of Trade, the invitation had been sent by mistake, and he had called Ford in December saying so.

Regardless Ford managed to bluff his way into the dinner, but didn’t stay long; half an hour later he was seen leaving the premises. Clearly something didn’t agree with him, be it the food, or perhaps the scathing speech made by the Board of Trade chairman Carol Wilding.

“We were, and remain, preoccupied with the question of leadership within the Region.”

This recent embarrassment comes on the tail end of a number of other incidents, all of which have landed Ford under media scrutiny, including: a video of him drunk and performing a Jamaican accent, a delayed speech after being stuck in an elevator for 45 minutes, and most interestingly of all, a promise of $50 million  in “efficiencies” in the way the city is run.

The promise was made last week by the mayor, wearing a Denver Bronco Jersey, but he refused to divulge any details as to how or where this money was going to appear from. After the crack scandal last year, Ford was stripped of many of his powers as a mayor, a move that he described in the same speech as a betrayal, and that he no longer trusts his colleagues.

“How can I trust these people when they stabbed me in the back? No I’m sorry. Once bitten twice shy, and I’ve been bitten pretty hard.”

Instead he told reporters that “we would see the money Wednesday,” in reference to today’s city council meeting. But many remain skeptical about the proposed money savings. Councillor Josh Matlow told the Star that he believed Ford’s promise was just the mayor playing politics, and is promising ideas he know won’t pass.

“If the mayor actually wants to garner support for any of his motions, I think an earnest person who really wants to see a motion passed would speak with their colleagues and try to convince them… To simply spring a $50 million budget cut on council without any opportunity to understand what the repercussions of those actions might be, how services would be impacted, it just doesn’t seem like a sincere move on his part,”

It also begs the question of where this money might be coming from, as in the city council meeting today a number of social services are under threat of severe budget cuts. One such service is in particular trouble. The Housing Stabilization Fund has a proposed budget cut of $4.3 million and, if it passed, could seriously affect the homeless in Toronto.

The Housing Stabilization Fund (HSF) focuses on preventing homelessness and offering emergency aid to those who are on the streets. By cutting its budget further, the city is putting those who are most vulnerable at even more risk—as shown by the recent death of Richard Ian Kenyon, who died on the streets of Toronto in ice storm in December.

Whatever Rob Ford’s next move is, it’s clearly something that will be under a lot of scrutiny.

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