Mayor Ford rejects notion of hiring driver
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford says he was 'probably' reading while driving on the Gardiner Expressway on Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2012. (Photo sent to Twitter by user @ryanhaughton)
Matthew Coutts, CTV Toronto
Published Tuesday, August 21, 2012 1:21PM EDT
Mayor Rob Ford flatly rejected the notion of hiring a driver on Tuesday, one week after a driving mishap had Toronto police suggesting the mayor would benefit from one.
“I don’t believe in wasting taxpayer’s money. I don’t believe in going out and hiring someone,” Ford said at a press conference at city hall.
“A million people a day go to work in the city and they drive. They drive themselves. I don’t see why I am any different.”
Ford noted the salary would cost between $50,000 and $60,000, adding that he turned down a car and driver service when he was first elected in 2010.
Ford admitted to reading work documents while driving on the Gardiner Expressway last Tuesday. He defended the act by saying he was busy and was trying to “catch up on his work.”
While not illegal, reading while driving can result in carless driving charges.
Drivers caught using a cell phone or other electronic devices while driving are subject to a $155 fine.
A comment posted to the Toronto Police Service Facebook account following the incident asked Ford to consider getting a driver.
“Finally, on behalf of all the citizens of Toronto that value road safety, Mr. Mayor... please get a driver,” read the comment. “It is obvious that you are busy enough to require one and no amount of money you are saving by not having one is worth the life of one of your citizens.”
The final section of the comment was later removed from the post.
Chief Bill Blair said he saw value in having a driver for the mayor, but ultimately said it was up to Ford to make the decision.
Even Ford’s brother, Coun. Doug Ford, vowed the mayor would get assistance following the incident, suggesting an existing staff member would act as a dedicated driver.
Last year, Ford avoided a distracted driving charge for speaking on his cell phone while driving. The incident first came to light when a woman accused the mayor of giving her and her daughter the finger after she asked him to hang up the phone.
A Toronto police spokesperson at the time said that police did not retroactively pursue distracted driving charges because it took up too many resources.
Earlier this year, Ford faced another round of questions after allegedly driving past the open doors of a streetcar, causing an exchange of words with the streetcar operator.
Driving past open streetcar doors is a violation of the Highway Traffic Act, and a driver may be fined up to $109 if they are caught by police.