Yesterday was Rob Ford's last day as the Mayor of Toronto. After an incredibly unpredictable election—where Rob Ford succumbed to cancer treatment and handed off his mayoral bid to his older brother Dougie—a mayoral tenure defined by crack, lies, secret video tapes and alleged extortion attempts fizzled out quietly. It's hard to imagine a bigger, more Hollywood-approved personality coming out of Canadian politics anytime soon, but it's also nearly impossible to conceive of an even remotely similar trainwreck crashing into one of our offices this century.
Rob Ford's mayoralty started off in a charming enough fashion—if you enjoy slapstick, that is. He fell over while trying to hike a football, he tumbled off a scale during his failed, public weight loss program, and he smashed his face into a CBC News camera. Don Cherry could make a hell of a Rock 'em Sock 'em DVD out of Rob Ford's foibles.
But from about the time Rob Ford was fired the first time for a conflict of interest debacle pertaining to his high school football coaching days, the Three Stooges-style laughs gave way to serious criminal allegations, police surveillance, and on-camera crack smoking.
The crack tape obviously changed everything. Once two media outlets came out, in quick succession, with reports that a man (who was later revealed to be Mohamed Farah, with whom VICE published a tell-all interview this past October) was shopping around footage of Rob Ford smoking crack, it became clear that our football-fumbling, scale-tumbling mayor had a much more reckless and potentially criminal side.
The infamous crack tape video came with a photo of Rob Ford standing outside of a house located at 15 Windsor Rd. in Toronto. One of the men in that photo, Anthony Smith, was shot dead at a King St. West nightclub. The speculation surrounding his murder, and whether or not Rob Ford and the crack tape were part of the motive for his killing, was so great that he publicly denied having anything to do with the murder. While whispers from some of Rob Ford's closest staffers suggested the video and the murder were connected, the case has already run through the justice system; and the two men accused of killing Smith, Hanad Mohamed and Nisar Hashimi, had their charges stayed and reduced respectively.
The house in the infamous photo of Rob Ford, Anthony Smith, and two other men was also the scene of a vicious break-and-enter where 18 Toronto Police Service officers were assigned to figure out who knocked on the door of 15 Windsor and beat its owner, Fabio Basso (a close associate of Rob Ford), and his girlfriend with a lead pipe.
This significant police reaction was unsurprising, given that Project Brazen and Project Brazen II (the latter is still ongoing) are the two major police surveillance operations that largely targeted Rob Ford and his associates. While most of the findings from those operations are still confidential, we do know that these police projects led to charges against one man: Sandro Lisi.
Lisi has been accused of using threats of violence to try and retrieve the crack tape. According to one police document, phone calls between Lisi and Mohamed Siyad, the man who was later outed as the crack tape's videographer, indicated that "Lisi threatened Siyad that Dixon [Siyad's neighbourhood] will get heated up all summer until the phone (video) gets back." Lisi, who has an unsettlingly long rap sheet of violent activities, was accused by Toronto Star sources of purposely planting bedbugs at the residences of his enemies.
Rob Ford, who is now occupying a Toronto City Council seat for Ward 2, will be testifying at Lisi's case this spring.
There's also a civil lawsuit, filed earlier this year, with gravely criminal allegations. It alleges that Rob Ford's former brother-in-law Scott MacIntyre (who once threatened to kill Ford) was the victim of a jailhouse beating orchestrated by the former mayor himself. Ford has filed an official defence stating that MacIntyre's claims are bogus, and in case you need a refresher on this particular scandal, we made a cartoon about MacIntyre's allegations.
The multi-tentacled crime drama that surrounded Rob Ford's mayoralty is kind of like the Serial podcast for Toronto politics nerds, and the mess continues to be heavily investigated online by armchair sleuths. Sites like the Rob Ford Files catalog known information about Ford's associates, and gather statistics on the scandal, like:
- Number of times Rob Ford has walked away from media without answering questions: 130+
- Number of times Rob Ford has falsely insinuated a Toronto Star reporter is a pedophile: 3
- Superior Court judges who've viewed (first) Rob Ford crack video: 1
Mixed into the swirl of criminal allegations are all of the offensive comments Ford made, which often distracted reporters from more tough and serious questions. There was the incredibly cringeworthy "more than enough to eat at home" brag, which was an allusion to performing oral sex on his wife. Or the time Ford was caught on camera stumbling through a particularly bad fake patois. Then there was that awkward video of Rob Ford threatening to commit "first degree murder," which the former mayor explained away as being simply his best Hulk Hogan impression, though both Mohamed Farah, the crack tape broker, and Ford's former brother-in-law Scott MacIntyre say the threats are directed at them.
This is not to be confused with the time Rob Ford actually arm-wrestled the real Hulk Hogan.
While many Torontonians—not least of whom are in the FordFest-going Ford Nation camp—will miss Rob Ford's antics, and maybe even his relentless promises to follow up on taxpayer complaints directly and in person, the mayoral tenure of Rob Ford was a non-stop carnival ride of criminal allegations, racist comments, and unsavoury characters. As the self-described "most racist guy around," Rob Ford was not a great ambassador for the City of Toronto, despite his successes on late-night American television. While it's doubtful Toronto politics will ever capture the attention of the American media machine in quite the same way again, Ford is not quite out of the limelight, with at least one court date ahead for Sandro Lisi's extortion trial, and a conflict-of-interest case pending as well.
So if you're feeling Rob Ford FOMO (the hashtag #RobFordMemories is catching fire on Twitter among the nostalgic), set your Rob Ford Google Alert now, because the story won't be over until the cases are closed.