In a scene that resembled a high school pep rally, complete with live rock bands and raucous chants, Rob Ford kicked off his re-election campaign in Etobicoke on Thursday night, promising to continue to guard taxpayers’ money with the tenacity of a surly watchdog.
Around 2,000 people showed up at the Toronto Congress Centre at 650 Dixon Road, including former heavyweight boxer George Chuvalo, who shadowboxed for the crowd before Doug Ford took to the podium to tout his brother’s accomplishments in the political ring.
“Rob is always ready to jump in and help no matter what,” Doug said. “Rob Ford returns phone calls, Rob Ford cuts spending, Rob Ford challenges the elites…and Rob Ford helps you keep your money in your pocket where it belongs.”
“Rob Ford does what he says he is going to do because Rob Ford is the peoples’ mayor.”
Seeking a second term, Rob Ford marched towards the podium like a warrior flanked by traditional Scottish bagpipers.
He first thanked his family for their unyielding loyalty before giving a nod to his recently deceased friend, former finance minister Jim Flaherty.
“Jim has always been an inspiration to me…I love you Jim, and I miss you.”
Early in the half-hour speech, Ford alluded to the crack video scandal that has made international headlines.
“There has been some rocky moments over the past year,” he said. “I have experienced how none of us can go through life without making mistakes. And when they occur we learn a lot about ourselves — humility, the kindness of people, and the spirit of second chances.”
“Friends, I love this city, and I love being your mayor.”
“I was taught to always stand up for what you believe in no matter how hard it is, and now I’m asking you to stand with me. Together we will continue to challenge the elitists…and those that want to overspend our hard-earned money without consequence.”
“If you have my back on election day, I promise you Rob Ford will have your back for another four years.”
Ford didn’t release a specific platform, instead saying he was “running on his record” while portraying himself as the ‘average guy.’
“The people of Toronto know that I am just like them,” he said, to cheers and chants of ‘Ford more years!’
Ford arrived at the party early to mingle with supporters and pose for pictures and members of Ford Nation lined up to buy Rob Ford bobble-head dolls to raise money for the campaign.
They were selling from $30 to $100, and the first 1,000 people to show up received free flags and t-shirts.
A large fire truck was parked inside the hall, emblazoned with a banner that read: ”Saving the taxpayers from getting burned.”
The use of the truck angered the Toronto Professional Fire Fighters Association (TPFFA), whose president, Ed Kennedy, wrote a letter admonishing the mayor for using the truck as a political prop while the city cuts its budget.