What the hell is our Mayor talking about?
Last night will go down as one of the most bizarre moments of my radio career.
My co-host and nightly opponent, John Downs, and I were sharing an uncomfortable moment of agreement.
We were discussing Toronto Mayor Rob Ford's assertion that he was going to discuss immigration issues with Prime Minister Harper in the wake of Monday's shooting in Scarborough.
John and I kicked around a few theories as to why the Mayor of Canada's largest city would be pre-occupied with immigration, when we had no idea the citizenship status of the suspected shooters.
Perhaps the Mayor had the inside scoop and was told by police that the suspects were from another part of the world?
We both agreed that it would be reasonable for the Mayor to demand the deportation of newcomers to this country that were convicted of such a brazen and bold crime.
But what if the Mayor didn't have that intel?
He surely couldn't be suggesting that ALL immigrants are criminals, or that the majority of criminals in Toronto are immigrants. The former would be ignorant and the stats simply don't back the latter up.
As we were kicking all of these theories around our intern advised us that the Mayor was on the phone.
Not a common occurrence. When we usually take a call from a Ford, it is the Mayor's brother Doug that calls the show.
Our intern nervously tried to make sure that the caller on the line was in fact the Mayor, and we actually rashly hung up on him out of sheer disbelief.
The Mayor then called back and I spoke to him briefly off the air. He told me he wanted to clarify his position and tell "Downsy" (John's affectionate nickname) he was wrong.
We came back from a commercial and brought the Mayor into the conversation.
What followed was one of the most confused, inarticulate, and embarrassing radio interviews I have ever conducted.
The Mayor let us know that he wasn't in fact talking about deporting immigrants...he was talking about keeping Canadian citizens outside of Toronto's city limits.
The Mayor proceeded to tell us that "I don't care if you're a Canadian citizen or not, all I'm saying is if you're caught with a gun and convicted of a gun crime, I want you out of this city."
As Downs pressed the Mayor I sat back in stunned silence. He couldn't really mean what he was saying.
Downs asked for clarification as my jaw was firmly planted on the ground. "So what do you mean, can you clarify in terms of the citizenship angle here? Are you suggesting that you want to revoke citizenship? Or what is it?"
The Mayor's reply was even more baffling.
"No well maybe um, you can clarify things, John, with me. When you have a status in a country what portfolio does that fall under? Your address? Your date of birth? Your country of origin? I'm pretty sure it falls under citizenship and the portfolio..."
Pretty sure? You just called the largest radio station in Canada to clear things up and you are pretty sure?
Don't you have a research staff? A legal department? Google?
Further to that, the Mayor of Toronto is asking Downs to help him clear things up? Good lord we are all doomed.
The Mayor proceeded to clumsily walk around the talk radio china shop breaking every vase on his way out.
Once he finished describing his plan, the one he intended to present to the PMO, we went to commercial and the mood in the room could best be described as the feeling of watching a multi-vehicle collision and not knowing if it was real or something from a movie.
Now, a day later, most tv and newspaper outlets have picked up the interview and plastered it over their screen and pages. The reason is simple, the Mayor has made a bad situation worse.
As a constant defender of the Mayor's tough fiscal policies and some of the common sense he has used at City Hall, even I have to question what napkin he wrote this plan down on.
This is a City that is looking for leadership during one its toughest moments, and it is a shame that our Mayor seems to have taken the summer off.