Was Rob Ford really sleeping on the job?

We track down the person who took the infamous photo

On July 28, 2011, Lisa Campbell snapped a photo of Mayor Rob Ford sitting at the head of his Executive Committee. He was leaning in his chair, with his hands clasped across his stomach, and his eyes closed. She posted it to Facebook at 10:58 am.

“Got a great photo of Rob Ford napping!” she tweeted two minutes later.

That evening, Campbell shared a cropped version on Instagram. “Rob Ford napping this morning. Highlight of my day at #TOCouncil,” she wrote.

Over two years later, the picture has gone viral. In response to Mayor Ford’s Wednesday declaration that any City worker caught sleeping on the job should be summarily fired, the image bubbled up on Reddit and zipped across Twitter. Reporters even asked him about it on Thursday as is characteristic, Ford denied everything.

“You know what, this is ridiculous,” the Sun quoted him as saying. “This is during the 24-hour meeting when deputants are every three minutes. It is so far-fetched, it is not even funny.”

Indeed, there were 167 three-minute deputations over the course of the 22-and-a-half-hour meeting which wrapped up at 7:55 am on July 29. But this picture was taken fewer than 90 minutes after it first got under way, while councillors were askings questions of the KPMG consultants they’d hired to assess what constitutes a “core” City service.

Campbell has since moved to Fort McMurray, Alberta, and when I reach her on Thursday evening, she is stunned to learn her old photo has suddenly made its way around the internet and into the papers (or at least onto their sites).

“At the time, I was a City[-funded] harm reduction worker, and I was supporting peers in doing deputations,” she writes in a message. “I sat through the entire thing, but only a few of them got to speak.”

And the photo? “I think he was exhausted and closed his eyes for a few seconds.”

Really? I point out to her that she’d tweeted about him “napping,” and ask which description might be more accurate.

“Hmmmmmm,” she writes. “I can’t remember how many seconds it was.”

Seventeen hours later, he was back at it:

Ford is nodding off in his chair. you brought this on yourself, Mr Mayor! #tocouncil

– Jenna H. (@jennadh) July 29, 2011

4:19 am? I don’t want to hear these excuses.

CLARIFICATION (10/18/2013, 11:45 am): Campbell has gotten back in touch to clarify that she was not directly employed by the City of Toronto in 2011 but rather worked for the Queen West Community Health Centre, which receives funding from the City.

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