Toronto’s controversial mayor, Rob Ford, has officially launched his campaign for re-election, despite a scandal-plagued year. The feisty mayor of Canada’s largest city is sticking with his message of keeping taxes low and fighting for the little guy.
“There’s been some rocky moments over the past year. I have experienced how none of us can go through life without making mistakes and when they occur, we learn about ourselves, humility, the kindness of people and the spirit of a second chance,” Ford said.
It’s that spirit of a second chance that Rob Ford is hoping will propel him into the mayor’s job for a second four-year-term. His high energy campaign kickoff began with music, bagpipes, and a fire truck with a banner that read “Savings taxpayers from getting burned.”
His mention of "rocky moments" was the nod he gave to his troubles over the past year: the admitted cocaine use, public intoxication, and fistful of verbal gaffes.
Ford told about 1,000 noisy supporters at a west end Toronto convention centre that while at City Hall, he has, and always will be fighting for them.
“I get up every day thinking about you the taxpayers. And no matter what mud is thrown at me, no matter what they say, I don’t let them stop me from serving you, day in and day out. Together, together friends, we have derailed the gravy train. Together we have saved the taxpayers $1 billion,” Ford said.
That number is in dispute. Other candidates say Ford’s claims of saving taxpayers that much money are overinflated.
But the embattled mayor continues to hold significant public support. Recent polls show he has about 32 percent of committed voters. And his message of saving money and fighting for average people appears to sticking.
“He does what the people want him to do and he has been doing a great job within the city,” said one attendee.
"Whatever his personal, I don’t know, but he did good work for the city. Very nice. And we appreciate it and we're going to support him 100 percent,” said another.
The first thousand people to attend the campaign got free T shirts and flags. Other Ford merchandise up for sale included mugs, foam fingers, buttons and bobbleheads.
Ford told the crowd that he would continue cutting the cost of government, keep taxes low, and remove red tape. He repeated his refusal to back down.
“If you have my back when they start throwing mud, if you have my back when I’m standing up to the special interests, if you have my back no matter what the weather is on election day, I promise you, I promise you, Rob Ford will have your back for the next four years,” said Ford.
For the most part, Ford gave his supporters what they wanted to hear and his ability to play on populist sentiment is hitting the mark with many voters. So much so, that Ford’s team is hoping his opponents will underestimate him and won’t be able to derail his re-election bid.
Toronto voters go to the polls on October 27.