Mayor Rob Ford said he would be “playing hooky from City Hall” to watch high school football games on the day of a city council meeting, then said he was joking.
Ford’s comments came about a month after a private September meeting at his mother’s house at which council allies “raised concerns” about his “unforced errors,” including those related to football, according to Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong. Ford was criticized widely in September for missing most of an executive committee meeting to coach his Etobicoke high school team, the Don Bosco Eagles, in a pre-season scrimmage event.
On his Newstalk 1010 radio show on Sunday, he said he would be spending Tuesday, Nov. 27, at the Rogers Centre to attend the five OFSAA Bills Toronto Series Football Bowls beginning at 8:30 a.m. The monthly council meeting begins at 9:30 a.m.
“Tuesday, Nov. 27, I’m going to be playing hooky from City Hall,” he said. He added: “Come to Rogers Centre if you need to find Rob Ford. I’ve got five high school bowls, I’m not going to miss them.”
Twenty minutes later, his guest, Councillor Frances Nunziata, said: “Now mayor, before the break, you mentioned Nov. 27, about attending a game. You were just joking, weren’t you?”
Ford burst into loud laughter. “Of course! I can’t sit there all day on a council day. I can’t be there for 8:30 (a.m.) The only thing I was referring to” — he laughed hard again — “you looked at the schedule, you said, ‘Are you nuts? You’re missing a council day?’ I said, ‘No.’ At 8 o’clock at night, obviously if Don Bosco — hopefully we are — in the Metro Bowl, of course I’m going to be there, I’m the head coach of the team.”
Nunziata interjected, “But I knew it was a joke.”
Ford continued: “But at 8:30 in the morning, I will not — no, no, council comes first, obviously. But I think everyone expects: you’re a head coach, and your team’s in the — you’re the best team in Toronto — I think you have to be at the game, so maybe at 8 o’clock, hopefully at 8 o’clock, on the 27th, I’ll be at the Metro Bowl. So — no, no.”
Council meetings typically run until 8 p.m. on Tuesdays. The Metro Bowl is the GTA championship.
Minnan-Wong said the Sept. 30 meeting, organized by the mayor’s office and attended by about 20 councillors, gave allies “an opportunity to tell the mayor how we were doing, and what they thought we were doing right, and make some constructive comments about some of the things we could be doing better.”
“I think there was a general consensus that we could do better, and that we need to move an agenda forward, and that there were some obstacles to doing that because of unforced errors that had been made,” he said last week.
“People raised concerns; each of them raised their own concerns, and some repeated what others had to say.”