12.31.2011 12:17 PM

Ford family follies, again

Some journalists think the Star has an “agenda,” and is trying to get Toronto’s mayor.

Some journalists think it’s a legitimate story and should be pursued.

Personally, I objected to the CBC’s stunt, and wrote that they should have never gone to the house where his children live. On this one, however, I think that it’s a legitimate story. If the most powerful municipal politician in the country is under police investigation for anything, people are entitled to know about that. There’s no claim to privacy in criminal law, and for good reason.

Moreover, I don’t think conservatives’ insistence that this is all about politics is accurate. Out here in Vancouver yesterday, the progressive mayor was all over the front pages with a criminal matter involving his foster son. I didn’t see any progressives saying that conservative media were out to get him.

What do you think, readers? This is a big, big story in Toronto, and lots of folks are talking about it. Should the Star have published on this?

59 Comments

  1. Bill says:

    Bad journalism. If charges are laid then it’s a story.

    • Warren says:

      Did you feel that way about the RCMP income trust story in 2006?

      • Bill says:

        Felt that one was a story. Totally different situation. Ford’s personal life vs. Income trusts that involve peoples wealth. If we start “reporting” on every politicians personal life it would be counter productive in my view.(how much they drink, who they are having sex with, etc). Not my business till charges are laid.

        • Warren says:

          Fine. So I guess you paid no attention to Clinton-Lewinsky until the impeachment finding?

          • Bill says:

            I don’t think the Clinton-Lewinsky thing should have every been reported. He did a great job as president. I don’t care who he was screwing.

          • Bill says:

            I guess what I’m trying to say is if the allegations are family related (within a family) journalists better be pretty damn sure it’s a story before going to print. Don’t care if your on the left or right, these thing can damage ones character for every. Privacy…..

          • Ted B says:

            So a family member calls 9-1-1, multiple times over several years, and you don’t think that is a story?

            I mean, if if the claims of domestic violence by the mayor’s own family aren’t true, and even if he didn’t have domestic violence charges in his past, the fact that they abuse the public emergency system is certainly a story.

            One of these is true and both are issues: either the calls are bona fide calls and involve some domestic violence issues or this family is using our policy and public services as their own personal referree service.

            In either case, it is not a type of matter where “private personal matter” overrides public concern. Making it very much a story.

    • Philip says:

      So Bill, a journalist can’t report on a story as it develops? Or is that journalists can’t report on Conservative public figures until it becomes public through criminal charges? One law for Conservatives, another for everyone else. Nice.

  2. Kev says:

    Colby Cosh nailed it: “It’s possible for Star’s Ford stories to be (a) vindictive, (b) obtained by unlawful or questionable means, AND (c) in legit public interest.”

  3. jay says:

    I bet the people objecting to this story are the same people who want the names of juvenile offenders published.

  4. The fact that someone called 911 to deal with something happening at Rob Ford’s home is acceptable to publish. I would be concern about what’s happening in our general community.

    Do we need to hear the details of the 911 call(s) or have the police inform us about what happened? No.

    Do we need to hear from Rob Ford what the issue with 911 was about? It will be up to him to decide how much infomation to divulge. The citizens of Toronto will need to decide on Rob Ford’s character based on the the type of information he is willing or not willing to provide. While I do want politicians who are knowledgeable and can use their skills to apply their knowledge, I also want politicians with good attitude and ethics. Can they work well with others? How honest and open are they about how they make their decisions? Are they liars or do they practise honesty with their fellow citizens?

    If Rob Ford cannot be trusted to treat his fellow family members well, how can we trust him to treat the citizens (or who he calls “taxpayers”) well?

  5. Sean says:

    Absolutely this is a story. The bigger scandal is the papers not covering it.

  6. Michael S says:

    This wasn’t leaked by First Responders, folks. This was making the rounds at Polish language Catholic churches throughout Toronto and beyond. Rob Ford knows this which is why he has called off the dogs. Somebody’s siblings can’t be cowed.

  7. AMS says:

    It’s funny how the media is appreciated when the “other side” is being lambasted by it. However, when “your guy” is getting scrutiny the media is at fault.

    The media should never hesitate to bring actual facts to light, at least for public figures, for public consideration.

    The real question is why do we even give credence to the thought that journalism should not bring these issues to us? These are our elected representatives. If the media has any job it is to shine a light on those in power and do everything it can to keep them honest and accountable.

    Yes, as long as they are relating facts (not innuendo) I feel the same way towards non-conservative politicians facing scrutiny!

    • AMS says:

      As an added note — I think we should keep an eye on journalists who are claiming “agenda” as it is more likely these ones do actually have some type of influence leading them away from actual journalism.

      • JenS says:

        I completely agree that this is a story that warrants being reported. Absolutely. At the same time, I’m not sure I entirely agree with HOW the Star’s reported it thus far. With a story like this, I think it’s most appropriate to go with straight hard news reporting. The stories in The Star so far have reeked of innuendo. Just the facts would have been plenty; people can and have drawn their own conclusions and inferences.

        Oh, and I’m another who doesn’t think this is an emergency services leak. This has family politics written all over it.

        • Ted B says:

          The story – unlike many they’ve published before this – is pretty fact heavy. There was a 9-1-1 call, there were several 9-1-1 calls, etc. They gave Ford a chance to respond, he chose not to.

          • JenS says:

            After the facts, though, it got pretty heavy on the editorializing. It was not necessary. It ought have been just the facts — in, out and done. Nothing else. What I quote below is where it goes beyond that, into inappropriate conjecture and editorializing:
            The Star has heard about a handful of incidents, but attempts to confirm the reports through freedom of information requests have been unsuccessful.

            “The incidents raise questions about where the line should be drawn between the public and private lives of politicians. On one hand, public officials have a right to privacy to sort through personal issues. On the other, as mayor of the city, Ford is directly involved in police budget and contract negotiations. He has a seat — or a designate — on the oversight board, to which Chief Bill Blair reports. And four of the seven seats on the board are appointed by city council.”

            If there are questions to be raised, they ought do it in an editorial or column, not in a news story. It sounds an awful lot like the Star is trying to justify their story — in their story. If you have to do that, then it warrants some thought as to why.

        • Cam Prymak says:

          Real journalism is almost dead.

        • Philip says:

          I would expect to hear vigorous condemnation of Rob Ford’s actions from Mr. Tulk when criminal charges are laid. No hedging, no half hearted finger waving and no bizarre sideways swipes at President Obama. Just a straight condemnation of behavior Canadians no longer tolerate anymore.

  8. james Smith says:

    Wonder if the Quebcor, Bell, or Postmedia will be covering the story.

  9. db says:

    Rob Ford might become a better human if he took responsibility for his actions.
    Conservative voters could be better human beings if they accepted responsibility for the servants they elect.
    In this respect due diligence would have revealed a history of abuse, but considering that the overwhelming majority of street kids come from
    well to do and very abusive Conservative families, the act of outing one of your own is akin to letting the cat out of the bag.
    The overwhelming number of people who consider themselves Conservative would do better for us all to realize
    that they aren’t considered equals or are represented by actual Conservatives.

    However, considering that the Fords’ generation is the most self serving and content to spend anything and everything on them selves with no concern for the infrastructure and community their children will inherent: The fact that a trusting and loving family member would be driven to call 911 in fear of their physical well being is being ignored in favour of outrage over the community being alerted by a marginally responsible media is the norm tolerated and approved of by the majority who voted to sustain it.

    Both Fords, Bob & Doug, will succumb either physically, politically, morally or legally to their gross lies and attempts to prosper through fear and denying
    deserving people of the services and life that is Toronto’s heritage and legacy.

    Eventually but much sooner than later All Bounderbys’ will be made to account for their actions.

    • j.kerr says:

      db says
      “… considering that the overwhelming majority of street kids come from well to do and very abusive Conservative families”
      I am no conservative. but……this statement can’t be left standing. There can be no evidence for this outrageous statement.

      J.Kerr

  10. TheSilentObserver says:

    They’re a piece of work, those Fords. I feel that, sure, this information is fit to print so long as it’s obtained legitimately. I have to say, though, that I can’t speak on any authority to the severity of these various 911 calls, as the household I grew up in did not report domestic disturbances on a biannual basis. As for any alleged partisan nature in this reporting, if the police were called to David Miller’s place over the course of his time on city council, I would be interested in such information, and if ever Toronto gets another conservative mayor without a history with the police, well, congrats to them for carrying on with their lives, I would like to hope, as the vast majority of Torontonians do

  11. Prairie Kid says:

    If the Star doesn’t have an agenda against Ford, why is it that only they were anonymously contacted about the 911 call?

    • Kev says:

      (A) How do you know that only the Star was contacted?

      (B) How do the motives or actions of the person who did the anonymous contacting reflect on the Star?

      • Prairie Kid says:

        A) The first article that appeared in The Star has been pulled. I know because I commented on it. In that article they said that an anonymous source had contacted them. Please read your left wing newspapers.

        B) It’s very apparent that the union members of the police association do not like Mayor Ford. When 22 Minutes invaded Ford’s property, that 911 call also was only leaked to The Star. Add in all The Stars attempts to smear Ford and you’ll know why this reflects on The Star.

        • W the K - No, not Warren says:

          “In fact, a source close to the investigation told me that while alcohol was an issue none was consumed by the mayor.”

          The above comes from an anonymous source in Joe Warmington’s opinion piece/news story about Ford telling us everything is peachy keen. Who is in contact with the Sun and what is their motive Prairie Kid? Care to tell us what is “very apparent” to you in this instance? Can you enlighten us on the Sun’s agenda?

        • Ted B says:

          Except it was the CBC and not the Star, bud.

          And there is a history of using the public service emergency system to settle their personal arguments. Like when his own wife called 9-1-1 about Rob’s domestic violence, which led to criminal charges.

          As Colby Cosh notes, it is entirely possible, if not likely, that the Star is out to get Ford AND this story is 100% true.

        • Kev says:

          A) The anonymous source contacted The Star. Yes. Where does it say that the anonymous source contacted ONLY The Star?

          B) If I punch you in the nuts, how does that reflect on you?

  12. barb says:

    I can’t believe anybody thinks information like this should be kept secret. The 911 calls weren’t made in regards to some Joe Shmoe’s drunk and dangerous behaviour, they were made in regards to THE MAYOR OF TORONTO’S DRUNK AND DANGEROUS BEHAVIOUR.

  13. dys says:

    I think what Vaughan was saying is a very important thing to consider. Ford has a crucial role in regards to the police board and makes many decisions that affect Toronto’s police. There could be a conflict here, if they are at his house with this kind if regularity. Is it just a coincidence Police services is the only department not facing layoffs and funding cuts? Why are they the only city employees getting a (huge 11.5%) pay increase?

  14. Ted says:

    No question this is news and the press has an obligation to report about it. It would be wrong for the media to cover this up in protecting the rich, powerful and political elite.

    There is a fact, not innuendo here, that a public emergency service was called and presumably it was called for a reason. That’s enough right there for it to be reported.

    The fact that this is an ongoing thing with Rob Ford, several and seemingly regular use of a public emergency service, is itself a completely legit story. If there is a reason for these calls – fire where smoke, a history of a domestic abuse charge against Rob Ford – then it is very much well beyond a personal private matter. Abusers always want to keep it private, of course.

    And if there is no fire behind all this smoke then there is a story about the abuse of public emergency service. And we already saw how Ford abused 9-1-1 with the several calls against the CBC. Not as serious as a charge of abuse obviously, but what the hell is going on with this family? Rob Ford has called 9-1-1 against his wife, his wife has called 9-1-1 against Rob, and now his mother-in-law has called 9-1-1 against Rob. And those are just the calls we know about.

    So either there is a crime or there is abuse of the emergency system, in either case a serious issue the public should know about.

  15. dys says:

    And in the interest of fairness – close your eyes and imagine what it would have been like 2 years ago if this had happened to Miller.
    I don’t doubt the Star would have mentioned it (likely without the same zeal, i’m sure) and the Sun would have had it on the front page complete with obtuse headline and perhaps followed up the next day by a hilarious front page cartoon of Miller drunkenly terrifying his family in a santa hat.

  16. bigcitylib says:

    If you or I called 911 on as regular a basis as our T.O. mayor, the headline in the paper would be “Citizen arrested for frivolous use of emergency line!” or some such thing. Of course its news.

  17. Darren K says:

    I think it’s a story. I think it was given to the Star as they are a reputable Toronto Newspaper.

    Toronto voted for Mr. Ford. He was well known for his temper and his crass. This is not surprising given his history.

    If you decide to throw your hat into the political ring, you give up your privacy. That’s how I see it.

    At the same time, I’ve noticed they leave politics wealthier than when they enter it. Do you really believe it’s from the salary they get paid?

    Come on folks these guys are criminals. This is just a minor infraction that is sure to grow into something larger before the 4 year term is up.

  18. Devon says:

    I would like to know: 1) How much each of these police episodes costs the taxpayer on average. 2) If he is willing to pay from his office budget? 3) Is there a city social program or harm-reduction grant for at-risk politicians we can deploy to prevent / lower future costs to the taxpayer?

  19. Steven says:

    Office of the Chief Magistrate R. Ford paging Nick (“My job is to end Liberal politicians’ careers”) Kouvalis / Campaign Research!

    To everyone who voted for these guys, wear it well!

    • JenS says:

      Gotta agree with the second paragraph. Sincerely . . . anyone who didn’t know there was oodles of trouble in Fordadise were just not paying attention. The whole family puts the fun in dysfunctional.

  20. Carmi says:

    Of course they should have! Politicians can and should be held to a higher standard. Already what I see here makes me wonder what Torontonians were smoking when they elected him. It’s instances like this where journalism truly shines as a check on political power and those who hold it. Here’s my take: http://bit.ly/t7Yp4q

  21. Neil says:

    Sorry Warren, I dont beleive the Nation belongs in the bedrooms of State.

  22. Jelena Draskovic says:

    It never fails to amazes me how the vast majority of people
    who dismiss domestic violence and spousal abuse as “none of
    my business” are MALES. The same hold true for the comments
    I see on this blog and the comments section of the Toronto Star,
    Toronto Sun, Globe and Mail, National Post, CBC, ect; which dismiss
    documented incidents of racism and xenophobia as “politically correct”
    which 9 times out of 10 are made by WHITE MALES.

    With that being said, if you really want to help us get rid of our racist,
    homophobic, anti-immigrant, Anglo-Saxon chauvinist (he called Mammoliti
    a “gino boy”), alcoholic, wife beating Mayor, Warren, then for the love of
    God, please ask your colleagues in the Ontario Liberal Party to endow the
    City of Toronto and all Ontario municipalities for that matter with recall
    legislation for mayors, city councilors and school board trustees ASAP!.

  23. Jelena Draskovic says:

    In Toronto, the night before Christmas brings no peace to thousands
    of families who face massive job losses due to the Ford cuts. No joy to
    Toronto or those who live there, guaranteed.

    This has to be one of the most creative and original videos I have ever seen.
    It humorously depicts what American Republican-style Rob Ford and his
    neo-conservative cable at Toronto City Hall are doing to our beloved city.
    Rob Ford’s grassroots voting base are primarily racist, sexist, misogynistic,
    homophobic, xenophobic, ignorant, common, uneducated, redneck, angry
    white males who hate things such as immigration, bilingualism, multiculturalism,
    Quebec, progressive taxation, social programmes, gay rights, women’s rights,
    abortion rights, public transit and gun control.

    Please view this excellent video below and then send it to as of your family,
    friends, co-workers, ect.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yG2k5qno40k&feature=player_embedded

    PS: Warren please consider posting this video on your blog yourself.

  24. Tim Sullivan says:

    Should the voters of Toronto be concerned that someone in the mayor’s home has 9-1-1 on speed dial? I think so. He’s a little bit trailer. His brother does him no favours but commenting on the mayor’s sobriety, a state of affairs he comments on from Florida so you have to wonder how he knows.

  25. HonestB says:

    If this had been Miller, you can bet the Ford-ites would be all over it. So it’s pretty hypocritical of them to act like Ford is under some kind of special attack. I don’t really think it should be news (given that there’s no evidence that any violence occured – if it were otherwise, it absolutely should be). But I do believe it would be news if it was anybody else. Ford needs to realize that if he wants to be mayor, his life is in the public eye, sometimes even unfairly. That’s how it works for everyone else. (FWIW I think the previous 2008 incident is of significantly more public interest, because there was an allegation of violence).

    In general I think the Star is a great paper and they’be been commendable in holding Ford’s feet to the fire. And whether you like that it exists or not, their coverage of this isn’t over-the-top, it’s just the facts.

  26. Anne Peterson says:

    Domestic abuse isn’t ‘the bedroom.’ Irresponsible use of public facilities isn’t ‘the bedroom.’ We are entitled to know about anything that reflects badly on the character of those we elect. And anyway if he was a progressive mayor the cons would be on him like a pack of dogs.

    • JenS says:

      I guess my slight issue with this is that, by claiming the right to know all in terms of allegations of domestic abuse, we negate the privacy rights of potential victims – you know, like, say, children. That’s a right afforded to other victims in such situations.

      I think there needs to be careful consideration on HOW this is reported, though I tend to continue to stand by the idea that it is a story. I’m just not sure the story isn’t the frequency of use (abuse???) of th 911 system and related municipal resources.

  27. patrick deberg says:

    The average conservative lost no sleep over invading Iraq and killing hundreds of thousands of innocents. Why would a few rounds with the wife bother them ? It just builds character……..

  28. JH says:

    I don’t think anyone can deny that the Toronto Star has had an anti-Ford agenda – that’s been self-evident for a long time.
    It’s also noteworthy that the Star is the only major print outlet pursuing the story the way it has.
    Still Karma has a way of coming back to bite people on the butt, so it’ll be interesting when someone of a more ‘liberal’ political persuasion has something akin to this happen, because no doubt it will. It always does. The current posters and the Star’s reactions then will be worth watching.

  29. JenS says:

    I totally get, and share, the Star’s dislike of Ford. The difference is, I’m a private citizen, and they are supposed to be a news outlet. I don’t expect news outlets to be unbiased, and in fact, think the idea of “unbiased media” (even as someone who was a reporter for the best part of two decades) is a myth. But I DO expect them to be fair. There’s a fairness aspect that has been missing from an awful lot of their news reporting on the Fords. It is entirely possible to, in editorials, be as anti-Ford as they like, while keeping the news reporting fair, and I think they’re failing at that.

    I also continue to think that fair reporting of Rob Ford’s antics and foibles would be plenty to bury him. There’s no need to embellish. People will draw their own conclusions.

  30. ASME says:

    If public funds are used by public people then yes…it is a story..including the names of young offenders….they are using public services including education.

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