"Talk is cheap," says Mayor Rob Ford, insisting he be judged on his performance. Well, not his confessed history of crack cocaine use, binge drinking, associations with criminals and drunk driving. Rather Ford's other feats -- comparing promises he made to his accomplishments in office. "I ask people to judge me on my record."
Fair enough. We're happy to do just that. A week ago we punctured five of Ford's oft-repeated claims, showing he hasn't saved $1 billion; isn't reducing Toronto's debt; and has failed to rein in lobbyists. But Ford's blatant exaggerations and outright falsehoods don't stop there. Hence we offer five more Ford fibs:
"I have transformed Toronto into an economic powerhouse." When the mayor uttered that claim a few weeks ago to a gathering of 500 business people, the audience outright laughed. Toronto is indeed an economic dynamo -- the financial services capital of Canada, a magnet for labour, education, research, creativity and a centre ranked among the world's best places to do business. But it was all of that long before Ford donned the mayor's chain of office. He hasn't created a powerhouse, but Ford has transformed Toronto into an international laughingstock.
"In a break from the past, I'm building a subway." Boasting of delivering a three-stop Scarborough subway extension, Ford told Fox News this was a historic departure. "People said it couldn't be built. Well, we built the subway. When was the last time in Toronto a subway was built?"
For the record, his Scarborough subway isn't "built." It will be years before digging even starts. And, in answer to Ford's question about the last time Toronto undertook a subway: one is under construction right now. Only it isn't Ford's ill-conceived and ridiculously expensive Scarborough extension.
Begun under former mayor David Miller, an 8.6-kilometre subway with six stations is currently being built, pushing Toronto's Spadina line to York University and into Vaughan. Before that, former mayor Mel Lastman cut the ribbon on Toronto's Sheppard subway line. Yet Ford would have people believe that he's doing what other mayors failed to do.
"I run city hall like a business." This would only be true if the main product of any business was its consumer help line. Ford comes into the office late, if at all, and leaves early. But he insists he works "18 hours a day" answering calls and advising people. Residents with pothole complaints no doubt appreciate the mayor's concern. But no business, especially one with a $9.6-billion budget, would tolerate a chief executive who spent his day that way.
Imagine where Apple would be if Steve Jobs had devoted all his time to the company's technical support line.
Ford's role is to draft a smart, compelling vision for Toronto's future and develop policies to realize this potential. But he would rather take residents' calls, skip work to coach football or leave city hall to meet with an alleged drug dealer. That's no way to run a business.
"I was elected with the largest mandate in Canada's history." Not even close. Ford did well at the ballot box, attracting 383,500 votes or about 47 per cent of the total. But the hugely popular Lastman did far better, winning 483,000 votes in 2000, the final time he ran. That amounted to 80 per cent.
Even Miller managed to secure a larger portion of the electorate than did Ford, carrying 57 per cent of votes cast in 2006. Ford did land a solid mandate, but not the largest in history.
"I'm by far the best mayor the city has ever had." Gulp. Where to start? Ford's effrontery is astonishing. But there's a chance this isn't one of the mayor's manifold fibs -- it might actually be his sincere belief. If so, it's sad evidence of how hopelessly delusional this sorry political figure has become.