Monday, September 23, 2013

Talking Rob Ford and Toronto Politics at Word on the Street

Continuing my run of political Sundays, I spent the afternoon yesterday in the shadow of Queen's Park in downtown Toronto, where a number of panels and discussions at the Word on the Street took on a political theme.

Up first was the Toronto Star tent, where the city's paper of record gathered some of its political reporters to talk about their respective beats. And opening things up was "Mayor Rob Ford and the Year at City Hall" with city editor Irene Gentle, columnist David Rider and reporter Robyn Doolitte.

As you'd expect, given the character that is our Mayor and what some would term the Star's obsession (others would say its job) with documenting his activities (he refuses to talk to the Star, so the feelings are mutual), the Mayor was a frequent topic during the panel. It wasn't all a Ford fest though; development, transit, and other more substantive issues also made the cut.

The panel wasn't as negative on Ford as you may think; they even, tounge in cheek, endorsed his re-election -- they say he sells newspapers and is saving journalism. But more seriously, they praised his skills as a politician, and said he has a very good chance at re-election. They would like him to talk to the press more, and not play favourites.

The infamous video alleged to show crack smoking also got much discussion. They said they walked about buying it and did negotiate, but they were concerned about the price and, more importantly, where the money would go. Would their money be putting more guns on the street? They think the video will probably eventually come out, and implied there's more to the story they're not able to report yet. They did shoot-down two video-related rumours: they don't believe a Toronto lawyer for one of the accused has it, and they don't believe the police (allegedly through Project Traveler) have it either.

Below are a selection of live tweets from the panel, and a few pictures as well.

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