Rob Ford’s remaining supporters hold steady as more allegations come to the surface

Matthew Coutts
Daily Brew
Rob Ford gets laughs in first public speech since losing powers
Rob Ford drew a mixed reaction by taking credit for "transforming" Toronto into an economic boomtown, in a speech Thursday. Ford joked that he saved the city money when he was stripped of many of his mayoral powers this week.

More unflattering information about Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has come out through a released court document, including inferences to domestic abuse and a suggestion he was once stopped from speaking to the prime minister because he was too intoxicated. But at this point, is any of this really going to have an impact of the supporters he has left?

A new Forum Research poll conducted on behalf of the Toronto Sun suggests that Ford's core base of support has held steady amid weeks of lying, confessions to drug use and drunk driving, obscene language and churlish behaviour.

The poll suggests Ford's approval rating sits at 42 per cent – essentially unchanged from the 44 per cent approval rating he held on Nov. 6. "They're hanging tough with him – it is impressive, I have to admit," Forum Research president Lorne Bozinoff told the Sun.

[ Related: Senators disturbed by tale of upper chamber meddling by PMO ]

The core "Ford Nation" – those who are willing to back Ford no matter what – appears to sit more closely to 33 per cent. That is the number that say they would vote for Ford in the next election, and the same number that believe he is "good for Toronto."

The poll is not all good news for Ford; 60 per cent of those polled want Ford to resign immediately. And that number includes 28 per cent of those who voted for Ford in the last election.

Other quick hits from the survey:

  • 60 per cent agreed with council's decision to strip him of powers
  • Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly, who assumed most of Ford's responsibilities, has an approval rating of 65 per cent
  • 69 per cent believe Ford has a substance abuse problem (up from 54 per cent)
  • 64 per cent believe Ford should take a leave of absence to deal with those problems
  • 19 per cent say they would support Ford in a run for prime minister.

[ More Brew: Rob Ford’s ‘friend Ron Burgundy’ mocks drug scandal ]

Ford has told U.S. reporters recently that he intends to continue his political career and plans someday to be prime minister. But recent police documents suggest that, in the past, he appeared at a public event to be too intoxicated to even speak to the prime minister.

The Toronto Star cites newly released court documents that detail a chaotic three-day span for the mayor, which involved a "domestic assault" call to his house, a stay at a hotel on the edge of Toronto's downtown drug haven and a failed attempt to meet with Prime Minister Stephen Harper to discuss subway funding.

The Star reports that in August, a police sting on Ford's friend Alexander Lisi was disrupted when police were called to Ford's home for a reported domestic assault. The call prompted a flury of calls between Ford and Lisi, as well as city hall staffer David Price, and forced undercover investigators to break off surveillance.

Later, Ford checked into the Grand Hotel on Jarvis Street, near Moss Park where drug transactions are common. A passerby later told police he saw Ford making a bizarre series of transactions with someone at the park on Aug. 28.

If history and polling numbers are any indication, none of this will affect Ford's remaining supporters. But what should give some of them pause is what is said to have happened at a Conservative barbecue the following day.

Ford had said he was going to pitch Harper his proposal for a Scarborough subway "over a hamburger." But the meeting never happened. Federal sources told the newspaper that organizers kept Ford away from Harper because they were concerned he was too drunk. Sources also said there were concerns an impaired Ford drove home from the barbecue.

Holding Ford up as a figurehead despite his personal problems is one thing. It is what Ford Nation gleefully prides itself on doing. But when those failings affect Ford's duties, it stops being cute and should start being frustrating for his conservative base.

Ford has always said people want "subways, subways, subways." He had a chance to pitch that directly to the prime minister, but the bottle got in his way.

Yet the polls stay steady.

Want to know what news is brewing in Canada?
Follow @MRCoutts on Twitter