Rob Ford is often in his element on talk radio, where his freewheeling angry everyman approach is a perfect fit for the medium. But when you’re the mayor dealing with a sensitive and nuanced issue such as the Danzig Street shooting, that doesn’t cut it.
Ford was widely criticized in the media yesterday for: his “War on Gangs,” his refusal to comment on being the only person to vote against grants aimed at violence prevention, dismissing those programs as ineffectual “hug-a-thug” ideas, and his bizarre proposal to ban convicted gun users from re-entering the city. For the latter, he added a racial tone to it by saying that he would speak to the PMO about what immigration laws would allow.
He had a chance to step back from some of these comments and presumably his communications staff spoke with him, but he decided to call in to Newstalk 1010’s Friendly Fire with John Downs and Ryan Doyle to clarify his stance. Transcript below, the audio is here.
FORD: I have called the Prime Minister to find out if there’s any laws with respect to immigration and citizenship status in the city.
People are caught. I don’t care if you’re white, pink or purple, 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. And the portfolio for the cabinet minister is immigration and citizenship. I don’t think the other half of my statement came out quite clearly. It has nothing to do particularly with immigration or where you come from (which I think John was trying to say), all I want to do is get information where I’m not an expert on and I’m sure nobody is until we talk to the minister and I can only get that information from the Prime Minister’s office.
So I put a call into the PMO to get that information. Maybe, maybe we don’t have a leg to stand on. But I’m going to do everything in my power to find out if we can get rid of these people when they get out of jail. I don’t want to live in this city. I just want to clarify the same portfolio is called immigration and citizenship, it’s not just immigration.
DOWNS: So what do you mean? Could you clarify in terms of the citizenship angle here. Are you suggesting that you want to revoke citizenship? Or what is it…
FORD: No, maybe 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.
DOWNS: If-If you’re Canadian born?
FORD: Well obviously your status is obviously under Canadian.
DOWNS: When would a Canadian citizen, like yourself — you were born in this country –…
DOWNS: …When did you ever deal with immigration and citizenship?
FORD: Aw, anytime. If you get in problems in another country, they try to look at your status —
DOWNS: That’s foreign affairs.
FORD: OK, whoever it may be, that’s what I’m saying. Maybe I’m not an expert on the ministries, but I’m saying that if it’s foreign affairs or immigration and citizenship, I want to talk to the PMO to find out if we can — and maybe we can’t. But I’m just trying to clarify that if you’re caught and convicted of a gun crime, I do not want you living in this city anymore. To find out that information you have to go through the PMO, and that’s what I’m doing. So, I’m not an expert in this but I’m trying to resolve the issue at hand.
DOYLE: Mayor Ford, just to be clear here, we’re not talking about you having any inside information on knowing the immigration status of the suspected shooter, or anything to that effect.
FORD: No, it has nothing to do with that. All I’m saying is I think people have had enough. When I walk through I call that war zone on Monday morning, I was mad. I was upset at the beginning, but I was mad. This is not the city we live in. I said I’ll do anything in my power to deal with this issue.
A lot of people said: “Rob, why are they living in this city?” No matter who they are, I don’t care if you’re Canadian born, a Canadian citizen. I don’t care if you’re an immigrant, I don’t care if you’re refugee; it doesn’t matter to me. If you’re convicted of a gun crime, I don’t want you living in this city. And the only way I can find out whether that’s legal or not or whether we can enforce that is through the PMO, and that’s what I’m doing.
So, I’m meeting with the Premier on Monday to deal with funding for TAVIS and hopefully next week I’ll be meeting with the Prime Minister. So I just want to clarify that because what I heard driving home is not what I said.