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Rob Ford Gave a Deranged Press Conference

It was supposed to be about skating rinks, but it quickly devolved into racist accents, public urination and his driver getting arrested for extortion.
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Rob Ford, looking like a big ol' sweaty ham that has started to grow hair. Screencap via

At this point, it takes a lot for Rob Ford to surprise me. We’ve seen him swear in fake Jamiacan Patois alongside an alleged extortionist in a restaurant called Steak Queen – which, of course, followed a wildly tumultuous year of crack-related craziness. That said, the golden rule of Rob Ford coverage is that he will always, always manages to out-do himself – even in the most unbelievable circumstances.

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That’s why I can’t say I was shocked that yesterday’s press conference – which was originally set up to announce the extended hours of ice rinks in the City of Toronto, as well as with the opening of several new privately funded ice rinks – turned into a full blown freak-out that touched on the appropriateness of speaking in Patois, Ford’s disdain for Toronto’s chief of police, whether or not it’s appropriate for a mayor to be urinating in public and other mayoral topics.

Robbie’s nine-minute unraveling is online for you to enjoy right over here, and it’s really worth watching in its entirety. Rob spends a full three minutes discussing Toronto’s skating rinks in a subdued tone, reading off a sheet of printer paper and giving a meandering explanation of how “unexpectedly the weather has been extremely cold.” He even gets some friendly laughs when a nearby reporter receives a transmission through his walkie-talkie from a clearly uninformed editor, who audibly asks, “Is the Rob Ford press conference going on right now?” to which Rob replies, “Yes, it is.”

It’s important to watch this monotone skating-rink blather, because it makes the juxtaposition that much more frenetic when you get to the final six minutes of an unhinged Rob wildin’ out. Rob gets set off by a reporter who asks, “Do you have anything to say to [Toronto Police] chief [Bill] Blair?” referring to Blair's comment that he was “deeply offended” by Rob’s swaggerific Patois accent. Blair also told the Toronto Star that Sandro Lisi, Rob Ford’s buddy who drives him around and leaves mysterious envelopes in his car, told Toronto police officers that Bill Blair “was going to get his this weekend,” in reference to the complaint Doug Ford, Rob's brother, subsequently filed against him.

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Let’s pause on that detail before we get back to the press conference, shall we? Rob Ford, the mayor of Toronto, is hanging out with a man who allegedly extorted drug dealers (Lisi is also an alleged drug dealer) to retrieve the video of Rob Ford smoking crack. When Lisi was arrested, he threatened the chief of police with the power of the mayor’s office, and of the Fords in general. This is the kind of mafiaesque behaviour connected to the mayor of Canada’s largest city.

So now let’s get back to the press conference, which originally started as a discussion about skating rinks. Once Rob Ford began talking about Bill Blair, right around the three-minute mark, he emphatically declares, “If you want to get into it, I have no problem.” And from there it's a free-for-all for reporters looking to get in on this Rob Ford impromptu AMA.

Rob Ford says Bill Blair shouldn’t be embarrassed, because the Fords are embarrassed that Toronto Police wasted “millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money following me around.” He then dared Blair to arrest him. When asked about his comments at Steak Queen, he snapped back that there was “nothing illegal” about his drunken antics, adding, “I can go out, and if I chose to do that with my friends – I did nothing illegal at Steak Queen. OK? I’m sure you all have your friends. How I speak to my friends – and I’m going to repeat what I’ve said before: I have a lot of Jamaican friends – if I speak that way in a private setting – which Steak Queen is, it’s a private setting – and someone tapes me – I can’t help if someone tapes me. I have nothing to apologise [sic], and he owes the taxpayers of the city an apology.”

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After his Steak Queen rant, Rob switched back to discussing the Toronto Police’s surveillance operation, which he has declared to be a complete failure: “Why won’t he come clean and tell the taxpayers how much money he’s spent surveilling me, and obviously coming up with nothing? Coming up with me urinating in a parking lot? Coming up with an empty vodka bottle?”

At that point, City Hall reporters reminded Rob Ford that this supposed waste of taxpayers’ money came up with (A) a video of him smoking crack and (B) charges against his driver for extortion. This is when Rob really starts to lose it, beginning with an outright lie: “I think you’ve seen a physical change in me.”

Rob Ford claimed last November that he had a “come-to-Jesus moment,” which he claimed would mean he’d be losing weight and staying off the happy sauce, but we know that he’s actually been partying in Vancouver clubs, daring women to take three-ounce shots and yelling in Patois on camera. It’s pretty clear that there has been zero change in Rob Ford since the crack scandal began to unfold.

The press conference then devolved into a conversation about Lisi, during which Rob repeatedly yelled that the matter is “before the courts” and he would be unable to comment on his alleged drug dealer/extortionist pal with whom he likes to enjoy a fine meal at Steak Queen on occasion.

All of this comes back to the reality that Rob Ford is going to be running for mayor this year. The upcoming mayoral debates are sure to be fueled by classic Rob Ford rants – and although the state of his office has turned into an unbelievably embarrassing (or entertaining, depending on how you look at it) circus, this is the show that Torontonians are in for. While Lisi awaits a verdict and Rob Ford awaits an election, only our mayor can say what surprises we’re in for next.

Follow Patrick McGuire on Twitter.