Doug Ford came out swinging during the return of the mayor's radio show Sunday, accusing unions, the media, and "left-wing elitist socialists" of trumping up allegations that Mayor Rob Ford misused city resources by compelling his office staff to help him coach football.
In the opening minutes of the weekly program's first episode since it went on summer hiatus in June, Councillor Ford said the allegations against his brother were "a lie." He characterized them as a smear campaign by the city's liberal forces, which the mayor had provoked by "stopping the gravy train" at City Hall.
"Do you know why these folks are angry, Rob?" Councillor Ford said. "They're angry because you got rid of the $60 car registration. Privatizing garbage, saving the taxpayers $88 million, that's why they're angry."
While taking verbal shots at council's left-wing faction, particularly Councillor Adam Vaughan, as well as a group of residents who have filed a string of complaints against the mayor, Councillor Ford saved many of his sharpest barbs for the media. He described reporters who showed up at the mayor's football game last Friday as "wolves sitting there, with saliva on their mouth." He also repeated accusations he made last week that journalists "sit on their ass rather than going and looking into the story."
At one point the Etobicoke councillor also turned on a caller who phoned in to ask how the mayor could reconcile his waste-cutting political brand with his own alleged misuse of taxpayer-funded staff.
Doug Ford was quick to jump in and cut him off.
"That's a lie. I can't have this guy sit there and lie," Councillor Ford said angrily, as Rob Ford tried to calm his brother down.
"Why don't you stand outside the office and add up the hours that they work for the city?" Doug Ford told the caller. "No, I'm sick and tired of guys like this."
Councillor Ford later apologized for his outburst.
The mayor himself seemed mostly content to stay quiet while his brother defended him, but did briefly address the controversy in his first live remarks since newspapers reported last week that staffers regularly used city cars and cellphones to coordinate football practices during business hours.
"Don't go and slam my staff when you know they can't defend themselves. It's sickening," the mayor said, echoing the press statement he released last Wednesday.
While firmly rejecting the idea that he had done anything wrong, the Ford brothers offered little clarity as to the division, if any, between mayoral staffers' official duties and their roles on the football field.
Doug Ford said Sunday the staffers "volunteer" their time, but Rob Ford appeared to make no distinction between the hours his employees spend on football and their official city work.
"They go to events with me, they go to parades with me, they do everything with me. I have the best staff around," the mayor said.
According to city council's code of conduct, a council member's staff cannot be used for any purpose other than city business. Last Thursday, a Toronto resident named Jude MacDonald filed a complaint with the integrity commissioner alleging that Ford's staffers helping him coach football is a violation of the code.
Ford was already facing a separate legal challenge that alleges he violated the Municipal Conflict of Interest by speaking at a council meeting about funds he improperly solicited from lobbyists to his football charity, the Rob Ford Football Foundation. A judge has yet to rule on the application, which could see him removed from office.
Despite the hot water his on-field activities have landed him in lately, on Sunday the mayor vowed not to stop running the teams, which he argues help disadvantaged youth.
"I'm not going anywhere folks. I'm going to continue coaching football, and if I don't get re-elected for helping out kids, I feel sorry for this city, I really do," Rob Ford said.