The Toronto mayor Rob Ford has hosted an annual barbecue for his constituents since his election to city council in 2000. The festivities took place in his mother’s backyard until this year, when the mayor and his brother Councillor Doug Ford hosted two Ford Fests, one in Scarborough in July, and the other in Etobicoke’s Centennial Park.
Sixty-five hundred cobs of corn and 12,000 hotdogs and hamburgers were served at Ford Fest. The lineup for food was a kilometer long. Attendees who wrote down their contact details were gifted with Ford Nation T-shirts, flags, and ‘Rob Ford Mayor’ magnets with his home phone number. People lined up for a ticket to the beer garden, where they sipped Creemore and wine while court musician Jenny James sang covers of Rhianna, Serena Ryder, and Adele. Eventually, James serenaded the mayor with his anthem Mayor Ford (The World Will Remember). Guests rode on the Scrambler midway ride and helped themselves to free pots of mums.
Section 68.1.1 of the Municipal Elections Act reads, ‘The election campaign period begins on the day he or she files a nomination for the office under section 33.’ The official campaign period for Toronto’s next election begins on January 2, 2014. So Ford Fest is completely apolitical. Counc. Ford told 680 News the event is a ‘community barbecue for our community.’
‘We weren’t campaigning when this started,’ Counc. Ford said when Global News asked if Ford Fest was a campaign event. He wore a polo shirt with the logo of the Ford family’s label company over the breast pocket, ‘And this has just grown over the years. I guess what I have for the people that say that is, the difference is, they use tax dollars for their barbecues, we own our…we use our own money.’