Rob Ford’s speech to the Economic Club of Canada got off to a rocky start on Thursday afternoon when the mayor got stuck in an elevator for 45 minutes.
The president of the Economic Club said she was in the elevator with Ford and the mayor jokingly thanked the organization at the start of his address for getting him stuck in the elevator.
The late start was of some concern after the mayor’s odd behaviour earlier in the week. Ford admitted he had been drinking on Monday night — after he vowed to remain sober — and he was caught on video insulting Toronto’s police chief.
Once Ford took to the stage Thursday, he touted his record of garbage privatization, his staunch opposition to the land transfer tax and his push for the Scarborough subway extension.
“As long as I am mayor of Toronto we will never ever face another costly and disruptive garbage strike,” he said at the downtown Hilton hotel.
During his campaign-style speech, Ford said that if he was re-elected on Oct. 27, he would push for a downtown relief line and subway line at Finch.
He called light-rail transit vehicles “fancy streetcars” and accused other politicians of “flip-flopping” on the transit file, while staying he always supported subways.
He also criticized the “tax, tax, tax” and “spend, spend, spend” mentality he says exists at city hall and said he plans to introduce motions next week that will trim $50 million from the city’s budget.
City council is meeting on Jan. 29 to vote on the 2014 capital and operating budgets.
His appearance ended with a brief congratulations to the Junior Economic Club of Canada, but Ford couldn’t resist making another promise.
While announcing the winner of a Porter Airlines prize, Ford said, “we’re gonna expand the runways.” The airline is seeking permission from the city to lift a ban on flying jets out of the island airport and expand its runway there by 200 metres on each end.
He then posed for photos with the audience.
Latest Ford controversy
Ford, who had vowed late last year that he had given up alcohol, has admitted he was drinking and called Monday’s restaurant incident a “minor setback.”
The clip posted anonymously to YouTube on Tuesday shows Ford using Jamaican swear words and other profanities, at one point aiming his curses at police chief Bill Blair.
On Wednesday, Ford did not apologize and was defiant, saying he is entitled to a personal life, and what he does on his own time doesn’t affect his work as mayor.
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said she is concerned Ford’s personal problems are drawing attention away from the real issues facing Canada’s largest city.
Coun. Denzil Minnan-Wong said he agrees Ford is entitled to a private life, but pointed out that in this case the mayor was not in a private place.
Mayor’s approval rating
Meanwhile, it seems the video hasn’t hurt the mayor’s approval rating.
A Forum Research poll conducted for the Toronto Sun shows Ford still has 45 per cent support, down two per cent from two weeks ago. However, 55 per cent of voters disapprove of the job Ford is doing.
The number of people who say they would vote for Ford in the next election slipped to 37 per cent, down from 41 per cent.
Meanwhile, the Toronto Star reports former Ontario PC Leader John Tory is getting ready to enter the race to become Toronto’s next mayor. According to the newspaper, his official launch of Tory’s campaign is planned for late February.
But the radio show host told his station Newstalk 1010 that “as of this minute, 9:39 on Wednesday night that I have made no decision and I have no plan to make a decision ’til late February.”