They say politics makes strange bedfellows.
None stranger than the straight-laced Conservative Leader Stephen Harper and Toronto city councillor Rob Ford and his brother, Doug.
Two years ago, Harper couldn’t distance himself further from the besieged former mayor. Ford had confessed to smoking crack cocaine and was effectively being run from office. Harper refused to meet with the mayor of Canada’s largest city and supported his removal from council. CTV reporter Bob Fife quoted the PM as referring to the Ford brothers as “a bunch of losers.”
But time, apparently, heals all wounds. Rob and Doug were in full force earlier this week campaigning for Harper in Etobicoke ridings, and both were seated in the front row of a Harper campaign event on Tuesday.
“This is all about the economy, making sure that we stay on track and continue to have a surplus,” Doug Ford told reporters at the event. “We have to make sure we don’t follow the provincial Liberal situation we have out there right now, and creating billions of dollars of debt.”
And yesterday, Rob tweeted that Harper will appear at an event hosted by the Fords this weekend at the Toronto Congress Centre.
“Stephen Harper should be embarrassed he’s having to count on the support of Rob Ford for his re-election,” Liberal leader Justin Trudeau said at a campaign event in Quebec today. “There’s a lot people talking in the news these days about the hypocrisy of the Fords and their drug problems and Mr. Harper and his positions on that.
“The Ford brothers should have no place on a national campaign stage much less hosting a prime minister at an event this weekend,” Trudeau said. “That is just completely irresponsible of the prime minister.”
The timing of the Ford campaign event is particularly bad in light of excerpts released from a new book by Mark Towhey, Ford’s former chief of staff, in which he details many of the former mayor’s drug-fuelled rants.
When questioned on Wednesday how he could campaign on being tough on crime while aligning with the Fords, Harper didn’t flinch.
“I think our position on these issues is very well known, and the support we’ve had from those individuals from our party is longstanding,” he said. ” I’m not going to cast those kind of judgments. Our platform is very clear and the support of that family for our party is longstanding and well known.”
And winning a couple of ridings in the critical GTA battleground wouldn’t hurt, either.
Strange bedfellows, indeed.