Tagged: Rob Ford

Rob Ford is dead, and terrorism hits Brussels. That tops today’s Bad News Roundup

It has been a particularly sad day of news today here at the Bad News Roundup:

Former Toronto mayor Rob Ford lost his cancer fight today. The story above from the CBC.

The controversial, larger than life mayor was just 46. Whether you were for him because of his “respect for taxpayers” and commitment to his constituents, or against him because of his combative style of politicking, his behavior or his addiction problems, either way this is just an unbelievably tragic end for Ford and his whole family. I’m watching the news coverage from Toronto right now and reading the Twitter tweets, and it is just a sad time there — even for the people who made fun of him. RIP Rob Ford.

And that is not the only bad news today. Today 30 people were killed in bombings at the international airport and at a Metro station in Brussels. ISIS is claiming responsibility. 

What other bad news is there? Oh, yeah, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government brought down a budget and the deficit is through the roof. $29 billion.

Arizona and Utah weigh in on the presidential race tonight. I don’t know whether that will be good news or not.

Guess what folks, we may not be done with the Fords; Doug thinking of PC leadership bid

I know the political reporters in Toronto are sad that the fun of the Rob Ford era as Mayor is ending, with the mayor’s race now over.

But fear not. For one thing, Rob won his council seat on Monday, which ensures council meetings will continue to be a lot more interesting there than in most communities in Canada, just by his presence.

Plus, brother Doug Ford has some time on his hands now with the mayor’s race over, and the word floating out there now is that he may, indeed, enter the Ontario PC leadership race!!

Doug Ford for premier?!

Wow, that would shake up what has been an otherwise dull race so far. And by the way, it would not be the first time a strong runner-up in the race for mayor of Toronto decided to run for provincial PC leader. In fact, the last one to try that actually wound up winning the leadership!

Don’t discount Ford’s chances or his potential ability to sell a lot of memberships and generate a lot of press for himself, and take the “stop the gravy train” message to provincial politics.

I suggest the Ontario reporters and political people who need some down time after this exhausting mayor’s race get their vacations out of the way fast. The circus will be back on, sooner than we think.

Whatever your politics or what you think of him, at least pull for Rob Ford to win his cancer fight

The news was confirmed at a major press conference today at Mt. Sinai Hospital. Rob Ford has cancer. Malignant liposarcoma.

Suddenly politics and the election take a back seat to this. The doctors say they are optimistic, but Ford really does have a long road ahead of him from the looks of it.

Rob Ford is out of mayor’s race in Toronto, Doug Ford is in

It was a momentous day in the Toronto mayor’s race. With Mayor Rob Ford in hospital still facing a medical crisis, he has withdrawn from the race for mayor and is now running for council in ward 2.

Meanwhile, his brother Doug Ford has now filed his papers and is now in the mayor’s race, just before the deadline.

Wow. The drama just never ends in Toronto politics.

Confirmed now at press conf.: Rob Ford has a tumour in his abdomen. More investigation to come.

Rob Ford in hospital: tumour rumours all over the Internet

What is next?! I was all set to finally talk about David Soknacki and what his withdrawal yesterday meant to the Toronto mayor’s race, and about the latest poll giving John Tory a 12-point lead, but now comes this latest news — terrible news, if true — about Mayor Rob Ford being admitted to hospital with a possible tumour.

Don’t go anywhere, folks. This crazy race is taking another turn yet.

It was an all-out WWE brawl between Ford and Tory at today’s Toronto mayoral debate!!

I was hoping to put an end to the mayor’s race coverage for a bit and focus on Film Festival celebrities, except these other celebrities in the Toronto mayor’s race were going at each other today in a wild and entertaining affair before the Toronto Region Board of Trade.

The debate was co-sponsored by the Globe and Mail and you can read their account here.

As for highlights, gee, it is sure hard to pick just one.

It sure looked to me like Rob Ford was having a hard time getting any traction. Then again, maybe he was rusty because he skipped out on some other debates this week.

At one point he was asking John Tory if he had done anything at Queen’s Park to save taxpayers money and Tory had to keep on reminding him “I was the opposition leader” — as if Ford didn’t realize that Tory wasn’t in power. Another time Ford was touting his relationships with all these political leaders including the Prime Minister, and Tory’s response was “are you kidding me?”

And when Ford was talking about his subway plans David Soknacki was calling them “fantasies”. All in all, Ford took a pounding today, but I honestly don’t think it matters much because Ford’s own voters simply couldn’t care less about this debate anyway.

Anyway, check the debate out for yourself, it’s not another one of these dull and boring snoozefests, believe me. (I wish our local politics were as exciting as this, then maybe people here might actually be interested enough to vote for a change.)

Toronto news: Rob Ford announced big subway plans but opponents are not impressed, as usual

More Toronto campaign news: a big issue in the election there has been transit and finding ways to address all the gridlock in the city that has gone on for years on end. This is nothing new, by the way. When I lived there the ability to get anywhere at all was an ongoing frustration to say the least. Now, it seems to be as bad as ever.

Well, transit was the big story today as Mayor Rob Ford was unveiling his big transit plans, which include subway lines. His plan for subways stands in contrast to the various other plans from the other camps, which include light rail and other ideas.

Ford’s opponents have blasted his proposals as “fantasies”, and I notice John Tory made comments today which basically trashed Ford for his inability to work with anyone. (Tory, of course, has been touting his “SmartTrack” rail proposal that has been a centrepiece of his campaign for months now.)

So that was the news of the day with Ford trying to make himself relevant in the wake of the latest damaging Nanos poll that has him trailing Tory by 14 points. It also comes on the heels of provincial Economic Development and Infrastructure Minister Brad Duguid endorsing Tory.

In other news, a crazy idiot who disguised himself in a Ford mask was arrested following a scuffle at the Ford campaign office today.

Nothing surprises me about Toronto politics anymore. Nothing.

(Incidentally, I fully expect this blog to become even more Toronto-centric in the days ahead, as the Toronto International Film Festival starts tomorrow. Expect some links to all the coverage, soon.)

Latest Forum Research poll has everyone freaked out over Rob Ford again

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Municipal election update out of Toronto. A new poll came out overnight from Forum Research on the state of the race. The poll, published in the Toronto Star, has John Tory leading with 34 percent but Mayor Rob Ford has gained ground to 31 percent.

That poll has everyone in the other campaigns all freaked out over the prospect of Ford winning the election and plunging the city into four more years of chaos. The other reason everyone was freaked was because a big column ran in the Star by somebody predicting Ford will win.

Actually, the poll is not as rosy for Ford as it appears. Ford still has very little growth potential. His negatives are still through the roof, and approximately 61 percent of people still have an unfavourable view of him. Also, news stories like the one circulating today about his football coaching activities continue to be of no help. As long as the “circus” continues around Ford, I think he will continue to have trouble.

The real story of the poll, though, is not Ford’s numbers but those of Olivia Chow.

She is now down to 23 percent, says Forum, and has been consistently dropping in the polls now for weeks. It doesn’t surprise me — her campaign has struck me as negative from the start. Plus, Warren Kinsella said a few things about Tory’s transit plan that embarrassed the campaign, and now Kinsella has left the campaign entirely.

I think the pressure is really going to be on. The problem is that I think the number of people supporting Chow on her own merits is vastly outnumbered by the people who all-out hate Rob Ford and want him out as mayor under any circumstances. The Ford haters are bound to reassess their support of Chow given that her campaign increasingly is looking like a sinking ship. It would not surprise me to see people defect to Tory to stop Ford from winning, simply out of fear.

As for David Soknacki it’s pretty obvious from the numbers that pretty much all his supporters hate Ford, too. The Tory and Chow camps will want Soknacki to throw in the towel soon, too, just like Karen Stintz. Without Soknacki in the race, Tory would rise to 36 percent and Chow to 26.

I think what you’ll see happen in the next few weeks is that the Tory campaign will be stepping up efforts to bleed the anti-Ford vote away from Chow and Soknacki and try and consolidate them in their own camp. I also fully expect the Chow campaign to become more and more desperate in the days ahead.

I think it’s likely in the upcoming debates they will channel their immediate energies at Ford, just so they can try and get back into second place again and be seen as the alternative to Tory. But I’m not so sure anything Chow tries will work anymore. Anyhow, that is how I see the state of the race at the moment.

Toronto’s getting tired of Rob Ford, and so am I

I haven’t blogged much about Toronto mayor Rob Ford and his glorious comeback to the mayor’s office this week, a comeback which quickly descended into the usual gong show we have come to expect. Invitation-only press conferences, heckling from people in East York on Canada Day, and a bizarre confrontation with some shirtless guy dominated yet another crazy week in municipal politics in Toronto.

Now, the latest poll numbers are out showing Ford in third place in the mayor’s race. His numbers were higher, if I recall, when he was in rehab. Pundits are being quoted in the press as saying this is the start of “Ford fatigue,” and I think they are right.

I had initially though the whole rehab thing might actually help Ford, and help him put his addictions problems behind him and get things back on track with his usual sock-it-to-the-elites, give-em-hell style of campaigning. Instead, in just one week back on the job, the usual craziness has returned and Ford is simply reminding people why they don’t want to put him back in again.

Moreover, this is not even interesting craziness anymore, it’s just the same old boring nonsense. People are past the point of caring. I’m tired of Rob Ford and tired of the circus atmosphere in Toronto, and I’m not alone.

Guess who returns to work tomorrow, folks? That’s right, everyone’s favorite mayor Rob Ford

Yes, indeed, folks, rehab is over for Toronto’s now world-famous, world-notorious Mayor Rob Ford. 

After a leave of absence characterized mainly by Rob Ford sightings in the Muskokas by the locals, as well as by social media pictures of him having lost some weight, the news is that Ford returns to the mayor’s chair, and the mayor’s race, tomorrow. For better or worse.

What I think is interesting about his return is the timing of it – just a day after WorldPride day in Toronto, an event Ford is notorious for wanting nothing to do with.

I guess Ford finally has a decent excuse to avoid the parade this year. Ha ha ha! Needless to say, the fun is back on at Toronto City Hall.

It’s days like today when I really, really miss Toronto

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My love-hate relationship with Toronto continues. Now I’m back to wishing I was still there given its multitude of news and activity.

First, the late night comedians are all having a field day over Rob Ford checking into rehab.

Second, the PCs and NDP are all opposing the provincial budget, so Premier Kathleen Wynne has called a provincial election for June 12.

And finally, Toronto has gone ga-ga over their Raptors, who could win their NBA first-round series with a road victory tonight. Meanwhile, TSN has been getting over a million people tuning in the games. The ratings should be through the roof tonight.

Go Raptors!! Over and out, from here in dull and sedate Saskatchewan.

Big breaking news: Mayor Rob Ford takes leave of absence to deal with substance abuse

Wow, this is what happens when I am out of the loop for a couple of hours. I come home to find out Mayor Rob Ford has taken a leave of absence to deal with his addiction problems.

Why it took until now for this to happen, I don’t know. He should have gotten help a long time ago, but instead, he left it too late and now even more embarrassing recordings have surfaced.

According to the link posted above, two new raunchy recordings of Ford have been obtained by the Toronto Sun and the Globe and Mail. The Sun’s recording has Ford apparently drunk and swearing yet again, while the Globe is claiming to have found a second video where Ford allegedly did crack.

And while Ford is taking a leave, he is not resigning as mayor, nor is he withdrawing from the mayor’s race, although he is putting his campaign on hold for the time being. I am wondering — how many lives does this cat have left?! Surely, he must be running out of them by this point.

Toronto mayor’s race week in review: can Rob Ford actually pull it off again?

I am still following the Toronto mayor’s race with interest from far away. Last night was a momentous one in the race as Mayor Rob Ford and brother Doug held their reelection campaign launch rally at the Toronto Congress Centre.

The event was being described as a “happening” and based on what I saw on the feed yesterday, lived up to the hype. It looked like the hall was filled with Ford Nation people, plus a few hecklers who you could hear yelling in the background the whole time Rob Ford was speaking. The whole thing was classic, with Ford entering the hall to Eye of the Tiger, by Survivor, and of course, he was sweating up there through the whole speech. Classic Ford.

Apparently even George Chuvalo was there to give his endorsement to Ford at the rally. Now here is the question I have. Why can’t municipal elections in Saskatchewan be this exciting? Don’t we have any boxers — or something to liven things up? Anyway, the atmosphere there sure looked electric, like it was a heavyweight fight. And then Ford exited the hall to the lyrics “We’re Not Going to Take It Anymore.”

And that makes me wonder — can Ford actually pull this off? After all these crack cocaine revelations? After all the videos out there of him? After the circus atmosphere at City Hall, and his being stripped of much of his powers by the council? After all the jokes and the pummelling by the late night comedians? It’s almost as if all of Jimmy Kimmel’s jokes are helping Ford.

It also doesn’t seem to matter that his opponents are attacking Ford’s ethics and promising codes of conduct and the like. Ford Nation just does not seem to care about that. And if you want to know why Ford himself is still standing after all the pummelling he’s been through, look no further than his supporters. This campaign looks to be a “Ford Nation against the world” campaign, and that is going to have a lot of appeal with people in Toronto who will want to give the finger to City Hall and the city elites one more time.

Last night’s Toronto mayoral debate really was a big shoutfest and shades of the WWE

Did any of you watch the CityNews Toronto mayoral debate last night? Let me tell you, it was far wilder than any of what has been served up lately in the Quebec election. And the good news is, it is still early days yet, which means several more debates until October.

Honestly, though, it really was a shoutfest, with these candidates all yelling at each other. A lot of people thought Rob Ford did well by standing his ground. Others thought all the other candidates dropped the ball by not going after Ford hard enough on the crack cocaine issue.

Others claim they thought Olivia Chow won, but honestly, I do not see why. All she really did was bash Ford and say what a disaster he has been as mayor. It looks to me like Chow wants to turn this race into a two-way Chow-Ford slugfest, and figures the best way to do that is bash Ford all the time.

As for John Tory, I think maybe he is sitting back waiting for Chow and Ford to bludgeon each other so that he can look like he is above the fray and the real alternative to all this left-right partisan nonsense going on at Toronto City Hall. We’ll see.

One person really interested in last night’s debate, I notice, was our friend Jimmy Kimmel .

He showed a clip of all the yelling going on in the debate, and then showed another clip from later on when Pam Seatle of CityNews was interviewing these other also-rans who are in the mayor’s race. They showed one guy with a beard in the back who was going to absurd lengths to get his face seen on TV. Funny stuff.

Anyway, check it out. This Toronto election really does have the WWE beat for entertainment.

Olivia Chow joins mayors race to take on Tory, Ford in Toronto

It is an interesting political day in Toronto as Olivia Chow has joined the mayors race. She has resigned her seat as an NDP MP and will officially launch her campaign for mayor tomorrow.

It sounds like she is lining up all the big back room boys in her corner — John Laschinger, Warren Kinsella, etc. Already, the fur has started to fly, with Chow already getting trashed by critics over allegations of using her parliamentary budget to boost her run for mayor. So much for any hope of a positive campaign in Toronto.

One guy welcoming Chow into the race is none other than Mayor Rob Ford. He called it the best news he heard all day.

In other news from Toronto, a big snowstorm hit today. Makes me glad I am here in sunny, thawing-out Saskatchewan.

Rob Ford should have stayed home; his Jimmy Kimmel appearance was a sad scene

You know, for once I actually feel sorry for Mayor Rob Ford. For once, Ford tried to stick to his message and do the “I’m an ordinary guy” thing, and actually tried not to look like a buffoon during Jimmy Kimmel Live, but host Kimmel made him look like a fool anyway. Check out some of the video from the show last night and you will see for yourself what I mean.

This whole appearance on Kimmel’s show sums up the Ford administration in a nutshell. On the one hand, he has done a lot of good things like kill the auto tax and keep taxes down, and his “customer service” talk is admirable, but all the good intentions are being upstaged and defeated by the rest of the craziness and circus atmosphere around him and his administration. Last night’s show was a perfect example of all that — Ford couldn’t even brag about his accomplishments without Kimmel cracking jokes and making fun of him and his antics. Rudy Giuliani he is not.

The Toronto mayor’s race is on as John Tory files to take on Ford Nation

As many people know by now, Monday was a big day in the Toronto mayor’s race. The filing of Karen Stintz’s candidacy was upstaged quickly with news that John Tory had entered the race. The story here.

Tory’s entry marks a major blow to Mayor Rob Ford’s re-election chances, as Tory is bound to take a good deal of voters who had cast votes for Ford in 2010. The only reason they voted for Ford was for no other reason than because there was no one else to vote for. Of course, the Ford people are now going around trying to play the anti-establishment card and are saying Tory is part of the political tax and spend establishment.

The problem with that line of baloney is that Tory hasn’t been in charge of anything at Toronto City Hall for the last decade. Rob Ford has, and so has his predecessor David Miller.

Tory, on the other hand, spent that time hard at work losing elections. Opponents have used that fact against him before, but in a way, it’s now something Tory can maybe use to his advantage. He can say voters tried Miller, and then tried Ford, and look what happened. These people had their chance, and they screwed it up, so why not give Tory a chance. Surely he can’t be any worse than the current joker in charge.

As for Mayor Ford, I notice he was busy on TV today, talking to Matt Lauer on the Today Show.. He told Lauer he didn’t do drugs, and then the mayor later stormed out of a press conference at City Hall in which he was bombarded again with questions on the subject of drugs. Yes, the fun times continue in “Ford Nation.” This guy Ford will have no problems keeping American late night comedians busy for the next several months, all the way until the election.

Everyone in the USA is laughing at Canada (Justin Bieber, Rob Ford etc.)

I may have escaped much of what passes for life in Canada during my Vegas trip, but I didn’t escape NEWS from Canada — news of the latest antics of all the usual Canadians.

The big story on Las Vegas TV on the morning I left was that Justin Bieber had been arrested for DUI, drag racing and resisting arrest.

Another story that was fodder for all the late-night comedians again was more of the continuing Rob Ford saga in Toronto. Yet another video has emerged of the mayor, this time in a drunken rant using Jamaican swear words.

I noticed the comics had fun over Ford calling this a setback, and over the footage of Ford trying to barrel through a herd of media to his office. All in all, it was yet another bad week for Ford. These weeks are really adding up.

Finally in news from Canada, all the sports people from ESPN and elsewhere were showing the footage of the brawl in that Vancouver-Calgary game from last Saturday that got John Tortorella suspended for his antics, which included yelling and screaming at coach Bob Hartley and the Flames players. And these commentators were all blasting away at Tortorella and calling it yet another embarrassment for the NHL. 

Who said Americans don’t care about Canada or Canadians? Still, you have to think people in the USA are getting the impression that Canada is full of idiots. Seriously, these stories about these three are embarrassing the entire country.

TORONTO COUNCIL TO MAYOR ROB FORD: GO AWAY, PLEASE.

What utter lunacy from Toronto city hall today.

Council passes a motion asking Mayor Rob Ford to step aside. Now honestly, folks, what did you really expect these councillors to do? Nothing?

Sounds like the meeting today was a three ring circus, with Rob’s brother Councillor Doug Ford confronting Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong on the floor and loudly asking him “have you smoked marijuana?”

Oh, and by the way, this has got to be another first — the first Canadian city council meeting to appear live on CNN.

Even Fox News is covering this mayhem, reporting Mayor Ford’s admission under questioning at the meeting that he purchased illegal drugs!

In other news, more court documents on Ford have been released. CTV News is reporting staff allegations of cocaine, prostitutes etc. etc. 

I’m wondering what could possibly come next. Frankly, today’s hilarity will be hard to top.

THIS WHOLE ROB FORD STORY IS NOW OFFICIALLY SAD

TorontoThe further revelations of the past couple of days with respect to the whole fiasco with Mayor Rob Ford just leave me shaking my head. This really has turned into a sad, sad story.

Of course, the late night comedians have had a field day lately targeting the Mayor, using lines like “drunken stupor” this and “drunken stupor” that. I never thought I would ever see the day a mayor of Toronto was ridiculed on TV by Jay Leno, or Jimmy Kimmel, or anyone else like that.

Anyway, they’ll have even more to tee off on now with the emergence of the latest, most embarrassing video yet. This newest video, which the Toronto Star apparently paid for, is really a new low.

The video shows Ford ranting and raving like a lunatic and talking about wanting to “kill” someone.

Ford’s reaction was to say he was obviously “extremely, extremely inebriated.” Well, at least he didn’t refer to himself as being in a “drunken stupor” again. That would have only meant more jokes. 

Anyway, the joke is over as far as I am concerned. Something has got to be done to get this mayor into rehab, or detox, or something, right now before this humiliation goes on any further or before he does serious harm to himself.

All his friends and allies are sick of this. Coun. Denzil Minnan-Wong, usually a reliable Ford ally on most things at City Hall, is now saying Ford must be “shown the door.” A longtime Ford family friend, finance minister Jim Flaherty, was tearing up in public over this whole mess and saying it was up to Ford to get help.

Just today we’ve learned that the Ford radio show on Newstalk 1010 is now kaput, off the air by “mutual consent.” Now we are hearing word that maybe, just maybe, Ford might finally listen to all the advice people have been telling him —that he should deal with his problems and take time off, for a while. 

It couldn’t come so0n enough for Ford, or his fellow Conservatives. The longer this whole Ford distraction continues, the harder it is for Conservatives to focus attention on the controversial statements made by other politicians in the other political parties — such as, for instance, the thoughts of the leader of the Liberals and future Prime Minister of Canada Justin TrudeauYou know what Trudeau said the other day? That he admires China.  See it for yourself.

ROB FORD’S CRACK COCAINE ADMISSION LEADS THE NEWS FROM NOWHERE

Welcome again to News from Nowhere, and who knew that the top story from politics would be from Canada.

That’s right, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford finally got around to admitting he has used crack cocaine. He told the press and then later had his big apology. The news has now gone viral worldwide. This story on the whole Ford admission ran the other day in the LA Times.

Worse, the likes of Jon Stewart and Jay Leno are even ridiculing him now on late night TV. Even Dr. Drew is weighing in calling him an alcoholic.

People in Toronto are circling the wagons again calling for Ford to resign. This has been going on for days now, and this latest admission is simply more fuel. Personally, I’m on record saying Ford could have saved himself all this trouble if he had made this sort of announcement months earlier, and checked into rehab. Then he might have spared himself this latest bad press and all these newspaper calls for his resignation, and made it easier to recover politically. Now it’s worse than ever — just in time for the next election.

Honestly, this mayor needs to get his act together, now, before his whole end-the-gravy-train agenda winds up on the scrapheap of history.

Also happening the other day was the passage of the vote to suspend embattled Canadian senators Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau. Personally, I say good riddance. Some people argued they didn’t get their due process in all this, but after Duffy and Wallin’s unrepentant ranting in the Senate, plus the recent RCMP revelations on Wallin, I have seen enough. These three got their big opportunity to say their piece and trash the Prime Minister and his staff. Now it’s time to cut bait, finally.

In related news, Premier Brad Wall of Saskatchewan has introduced a motion in the Legislature to support the abolition of the Senate.

Other news to tell you about:

Miami Dolphins Richie Incognito has been suspended for racism.

Shock news from Deadline Hollywood that they parted ways with Nikki Finke.

More US politics news from election night: Terry McAuliffe has been elected governor of Virginia.

Oh, and if you haven’t noticed, right now President Barack Obama is doing a terrible job. People are all over his case on this business of NSA spying on world leaders and other people, and also there’s the website mess with the Obamacare rollout last week.

This is a disgrace, and the American people know it. Obama’s performance ratings are in the sink. If this spying nonsense keeps up, maybe they’ll end up as low as ratings for the whole Congress. Americans really are getting to be as fed up with their own government’s antics as the rest of the world is.

As an aside, a big hello again to those of you US federal government employees who no doubt are checking out this blog —  to find out the latest on Rob Ford, of course.

Don’t worry, you folks in the ‘States, we’ll be back to the sports postings here, soon. That’s all for now — I’m done with politics.

ROB FORD SHOULD GIVE UP, ALREADY

TorontoThe word “bombshell” has been used far too much as of late — mainly in connection to the Senate. But Mike Duffy and crew have been shoved to the back pages after the latest “bombshell” from Toronto.

It turns out the infamous crack cocaine video featuring Mayor Rob Ford has finally emerged!

Toronto police chief Bill Blair announced they had the video today. In response, Mayor Ford held his own news conference saying he has no reason to resign.

What a mess. Editorial boards are now screaming for Ford’s head, with the Toronto Star, the Toronto Sun and the National Post all saying Ford must resign.

What an utter mess. I dunno whether to be envious or to take pity on my reporter colleagues in Toronto covering this utter gong show.

As an aside — it’s a good thing the Boston Red Sox won the World Series last night, because that frees up my evening to listen to people freak out about Ford on the radio on Newstalk 1010.

ROB FORD, MIKE DUFFY, AND OF COURSE TORNADOES LEAD THIS EDITION OF THE ‘BAD NEWS ROUNDUP’

Welcome to the Bad News Roundup, a new feature here at the blog where we run down all the latest bad news going on in the world. Whether it be weather disasters in Oklahoma, terrorist attacks in London, or deaths of famous people (Jean Stapleton), we’ve got you covered.

Actually, I was  thinking of doing something like this around the same time that Angelina Jolie was having that double mastectomy. But then I thought, this is bound to depress the readers. Who needs bad news? Then I realized every item on CNN was bad news so I might as well keep up with CNN. So here we go.

Well, the death toll is in from the Oklahoma City tornado. Nine people killed, and apparently many of the deaths happened on the highway with people fleeing for their lives. A lot of the deaths happened on I-40 west of the city.

A lot of know-it-all-type media people, most of them not from Oklahoma, are now taking Oklahomans to task for being on the road running for their lives, and criticizing the media for encouraging this behavior.

To which my response is: if these folks didn’t have a storm shelter, fleeing for your life is the best possible option in the face of a possible EF-5. Really, your only hope was to flee, because staying in some interior room was going to be no help if your entire house got blown to pieces. After what had happened in Moore two weeks earlier, I also think there were also a lot of panicked people, too. Anyway, all this highlights the need for people to be able to have storm shelters or somewhere underground to hide in the event of an EF-5 tornado.

As for people trashing the storm chasers for their “reckless” behavior, I say give them a break. They were providing a lot of good information to a lot of news organizations and telling people exactly what was happening. It wasn’t all reckless thrill-seeking by a lot of them. Still, I think there will have to be a lot of individual soul-searching by people about how they chase tornadoes after the experience a lot of them had Friday.

We all know that the storm chasers took a direct hit when the tornado in El Reno took a sudden turn in their direction. And we all know the close call the Weather Channel crew had when the storm totalled one of their vehicles, sending them to hospital.

Now we have learned there were actually some storm-chasing fatalities with this system. Among those killed was Tim Samaras, a veteran storm-chaser who had appeared in the popular Storm Chasers show on Discovery Channel. Also killed was his son Paul Samaras and another chaser Carl Young.

Sad times indeed.

In the end, this tornado was rated an EF-3 and did most of its work in the rural areas before petering out.  Oklahoma City was very lucky not to have suffered another total disaster — although now the real issue is flooding from all that softball-sized hail they got hit with.

On to other news. I now feel compelled to discuss the situation with Mayor Rob Ford and that gong show of his in Toronto over that alleged video that Ford had used crack cocaine. I call this “alleged” because this video has not actually been made public as of yet, so it could be doctored for all anyone knows. Two reporters from the Toronto Star also claim to have seen the video.

Gawker has managed to raise $200,000 to purchase the video  so all the world can see it, but so far, nothing has seen the light of day.  As for the rest of the media, the piling on has been going non-stop. Lately, there has been non-stop continuing coverage of the long list of staffers quitting or being fired from the mayor’s office.

I intend to say more about this entire situation at some point when I finally get around to writing a column on the subject for the paper. Overall, I consider the coverage to be a new low for journalism in Canada generally, but suffice it to say that Ford has not helped his own cause here. He could have, and should have, gone public far earlier than he did on the issue, instead of taking his vow of silence that he did. He should have either denied the allegations immediately if they were not true , or taken responsibility for his problems if they were true.

Honestly, if he really does have a drug problem, he should show leadership and get treatment for it, and be done with it. Heck, former Alberta Premier Ralph Klein went and admitted he had a drinking problem, and he survived politically.

The problem, though, is that Ford has so many political enemies right now that admitting any sort of drug problem will be enough for the lynch mob to come after him. Just the other day there was some sort of protest with people calling on Ford to resign. No matter what he does, Ford cannot win. So as a result, we are getting this continuous three-ring circus atmosphere at Toronto City Hall instead. (Also, he shouldn’t have referred to reporters as “maggots,” either. That didn’t look too classy.)

Meanwhile in Ottawa we have the whole situation of Sen. Mike Duffy’s expenses and his pledge to repay it, and this $90,000 gift payment from chief of staff Nigel Wright to him, which ended up costing Wright his job,  and Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s assertions that he would never have agreed to the payment if he had known about it.

This entire situation is killing Harper in the polls, as all his MPs are coming back to Parliament Hill reporting how angry the constituents are over this mess. And this mess continues to fester on with reports of Duffy reportedly lobbying for a Cabinet post and claims he wanted to speak with Harper about his expenses.  In all, this does not make the Senate look good and just creates more problems for the government, and counts as more bad news. 

That is really all the bad news I’m going to talk about for now.

ROB FORD WINS APPEAL; REMAINS MAYOR OF TORONTO

I must admit I was distracted this morning while writing my NDP debate stories from last night, because of the live reports from Mayor Rob Ford’s legal appeal in Toronto.

As it turns out, he has won his appeal and therefore is going to remain in office as mayor of Toronto. Hopefully, this will be the end of this absolute sideshow that has been a total distraction in Toronto, and maybe the focus at City Hall there can turn now to solving all the rest of the problems that city faces. 

I highly doubt this will be the end of Ford’s fights with his opponents, though. This legal mess was simply one battle in the long-drawn-out political war going on in municipal politics in Toronto.

NOW A FEW WORDS ABOUT THE GREY CUP, JUSTIN BIEBER, ROB FORD AND ALL THINGS TORONTO

I just want to say a few words about the Grey Cup game over the weekend, but first, a few words about the soon-to-be ex-Mayor Rob Ford.

Who else sees the irony? His beloved football Toronto Argonauts win the Grey Cup, and the next day Ford is ousted in a judicial decision for conflict of interest.

Ford’s offence: casting a vote at council that would have meant he didn’t need to comply with the integrity commissioners’ ruling that he pay back money to his football charity.

To be honest with you, I worry about the implications of a judge tossing out a mayor in a judicial decision. I simply think the punishment is a bit too extreme. My concern is this might open the door to lawsuits all over Canada by people opposed to politicians in power for any flimsy reason. Personally, the decision on whether some politician should stay or go ought to be up to the voters, not judges. At the very least it ought to be the council that votes non-confidence or starts impeachment proceedings.

Having said all that, I think Ford did it to himself here. He could have avoided this mess by simply adhering to these conflict of interest rules. Heck, I see local civic officials excuse themselves and leave council chambers regularly at the meetings I attend. If it isn’t so difficult for them to excuse themselves from voting on issues where there is a conflict, then it shouldn’t be difficult for someone like Rob Ford. Anyway, that is my comment on that.

Oh, and by the way, there are mayors all over Canada who are either in trouble or resigned, such as ones in Laval and Montreal. Even Joe Fontana, mayor of London, Ontario, faces criminal charges and a possible ouster. So these messes are happening all over Canada. As for Toronto, its city council is in chaos as of today.

Now, about the Grey Cup.

Much has been made about how the CFL really needed an Argos victory, and all the talk was about the implications this whole week had on boosting interest in the league in this city. I think the impact has been far greater, though, for the city itself, and more particularly for the psyche of Toronto sports fans. Think of it: the fans there have been flattened by the poor performances of their teams over the past few years.

It’s been years since the Maple Leafs, Raptors and Blue Jays have been in the playoffs. In the case of Toronto FC, they’ve never been in the playoffs, period, and they’ve only been in the MLS for a few years. To top off all of it, the Argos haven’t been very good, either, until now.

For this team to win the Cup is pretty astounding. It ends years of misery for fans of all the Toronto teams.

I compare this Grey Cup week to the massive Rolling Stones concert held after the SARS epidemic flattened the city. The Rolling Stones concert, at the time, basically was Toronto’s announcement to the world that the city was back, and I think this Grey Cup, coming on the heels of all those Blue Jays signings and moves the previous week, is Toronto’s declaration that it is back as a winning, relevant sports town.

From a Toronto perspective this game was a tremendous success for the city and all its fans. For everyone else, though, it really was a letdown and no way to end a season. You had this expectation that because it was the 100th Grey Cup that it would be some great classic that would celebrate the heritage of the game, and maybe the various events leading up to the game achieved all that, but the game itself did not. That was no classic: a 35-22 shellacking. The Calgary Stampeders simply didn’t show up for this game and killed themselves with stupid penalties and stupid turnovers right from the start. I really expected better from quarterback Kevin Glenn, who finally got in a Grey Cup game after missing out due to injury in 2007, and his opportunity went right down the tubes.

In fact, the whole production was a letdown. Even the musical acts at the Grey Cup proved comical, starting with Burton Cummings forgetting the words to the national anthem. That was followed up in short order with the Stampeders forgetting how to play football during the first half.

Then, at half-time, came the big concert everyone was talking about with Justin Bieber and Carly Rae Jepsen.

While a lot of people out there were saying this was exactly what the CFL had to do to attract younger fans to the game, I kind of thought it was a pointless exercise. First of all, none of the football fans at home were interested in watching these two. At home, I personally switched the channel to the NFL, and I wasn’t the only one. In the stadium, Bieber was subjected to boos from the football fans in Rogers Centre. It reminded me of that time when somebody threw a bottle at Justin Timberlake during the big Rolling Stones SARS concert. Toronto people can be a tough crowd.

But seriously, what audience is there for Bieber and Jepsen? That’s right: millions of teenage girls.

And that is really my point: these girls who are interested in Bieber and Jepsen are never going to be fans of the CFL, and I underscore the word never. There is not a single potential fan among these people. They probably don’t know the rules of Canadian football and aren’t interested in learning them, either. Justin Bieber fans and Carly Rae Jepsen fans are simply not interested in football, period. Okay, maybe a handful are, but most of them aren’t.

So why bother showing these two? It adds nothing to the game. At least during the Super Bowls they show people who have some semblance of broad appeal — you know, like Paul McCartney, or Madonna. At least those folks are worth showing.

What I would have done was find some Canadian act or acts that had that type of broad appeal to lure in exactly the kind of music fans that might turn into potential football fans someday — someone like  Tom Cochrane or Neil Young or somebody like that at halftime. Maybe there are better ideas out there; in fact, there probably are. I guess they did show Gordon Lightfoot, but he’s as old as the hills. And of course Burton Cummings was there, too, except he botched the anthem.

To me, putting Justin Bieber on the half-time show kind of made it look like the CFL was trying too hard to be hip and relevant to younger people, when in fact they really didn’t need to be so desperate. The reaction of the fans there said it all.

Next time the CFL hosts a Grey Cup half-time show, the first order of business is to get an act that (a) won’t be booed by the fans and (b) actually bring in new fans who might actually watch the game on a permanent basis.

Now, where is the next Grey Cup game again? That’s right: Saskatchewan. It shouldn’t be too hard for the folks in Regina to put on a better show than this one turned out to be. Better luck next time.

MORE VIOLENCE AND SHOOTING DEATHS IN TORONTO

Things seem to be going from bad to worse in my former home city of Toronto.

The latest gun violence happened last night at a block party in east Scarborough on Danzig Street, where someone opened fire and shot 23 people, and killed two young persons.

Just like the shooting at the Eaton Centre earlier this year, there is shock and outrage — though Michele Mandel wonders where the outrage is from the chief of police. Sue-Ann Levy is calling for anti-gun leadership  while Lorrie Goldstein is calling for action on gun crime. Mike Strobel wants the violence stopped before Toronto gets Tijuana’s rep. Boy, the concern over this violence is overflowing from the folks at the Sun today.

I’ve seen all the clips of Mayor Rob Ford saying Toronto is a safe city. Well, the mayor can say that all he wants, but it is going to take a lot more than words before Toronto residents believe the place is safe these days. Toronto is rapidly turning into a city where people are afraid to walk down the streets. The gang violence and gun violence there needs to be stopped, right now, before something even worse happens than what went on last night.