Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has provided the public with a seemingly endless stream of jokes about his personal and professional challenges. And in a strange new photo, Ford appears to be having a laugh of his own while being tickled by a fellow political figure.
In the photograph, Toronto’s budget chief, Frank Di Giorgio, appears to be tickling Ford, who is seen laughing while resting his back against a wall.
“Oh my God! You’ve got to be kidding,” Di Giorgio told the Toronto Sun when asked if he was in fact tickling Ford in the photo captured by Reuters photographer Aaron Harris.
“They caught us laughing during a break, that's all,” he said.
Di Giorgio said what was actually happening was that the pair were acting out a football stance as a way to jokingly settle their differences after a heated political debate.
“The mayor and I share a background in football, any time the mayor, let’s say gets angry with me, I say, ‘You know what, we’ve got to settle this on the football field,'” Di Giorgio told the paper. “I said to him let’s get down into a three-point stance and we’ll fire out at each other and we’ll see who wins on this thing.”
The two men were reportedly engaging in a lighter moment after a heated debate over a taxing issue during a City Hall meeting on Thursday.
“I kind of lunged towards to him and pushed him back,” Di Giorgio added.
Ford is a well-known football fan. In the midst of his alleged crack cocaine smoking scandal late last year, the embattled mayor was seen socializing with fans at a local game.
Another Reuters photo shows Di Giorgio with his hand appearing to rest on Ford’s stomach, while the mayor grins broadly.
Di Giorgio said it’s commonplace for the two to work out their differences after City Hall meetings.
“It was all in fun,” Di Giorgio said.
Regardless, the photo is likely a welcome distraction for Ford, who has been mired in yet another controversy this week, amid allegations that he ordered the prison beating of his sister’s former spouse.
Scott MacIntyre says he suffered a prison beating in 2012 as part of an intimidation tactic to ensure his silence about Ford’s “private activities” that he did not want to become publicly known.