The annual Leacock Club Debate, a charitable event in memory of the great Canadian humorist, took place in Toronto this week. Its scenario: Stephen Harper (played by interim Liberal leader Bob Rae), Don Cherry, Celine Dion and Toronto Mayor Rob Ford are all on a crashing plane – which one gets the single parachute? The winning case was made by writer Shawn Micallef, playing Mr. Ford. Here is the full version of his remarks.
Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. As you can plainly see, I am your mayor, Rob Ford.
Like city council meetings, this debate is irrelevant. I was riding the subway last night and the people said they want me to have the parachute.
I don't know who this Stephen Leacock is – I wouldn't recognize him if he walked down the street – but my brother Dougie says he thinks Leacock played for the Argos in the late nineties.
The taxpayers gave me the mandate to have the parachute because that's what they want. This is the people's mandate. We must follow the people's mandate.
Is Margaret Atwood here? Dougie said you guys would be into her so I went to the Indigo library and got The Edible Woman to see what the fuss was about. I didn't get it – it isn't like the other edible women I've downloaded.
Ladies and gentlemen, or, if I may, "Ford Nation," it's people like you who are my base. You're clearly the ones I meet in Tim Hortons all the time. You're the ones who tell me to "stay the course." I've never sailed, but everybody in Tim Hortons is saying, "stay the course," so I am going to stay the course. They tell me to stay the course at Arby's. They tell me to stay the course at Swiss Chalet. They tell me to stay the course at Coffee Time. They tell me to stay the course at the 7-Eleven. They tell me to stay the course on the subways. They tell me to stay the course at Dollarama. They tell me to stay the course at Linens and Things, and sometimes at Bed, Bath and Beyond.
Ford Nation, I was elected because this city is on a gravy train, but let me tell you right now, we're on a gravy plane and there's only one person who should get the parachute – me, because there's a lot of work to do, friends, and nobody is going to clean up the waste in this town like me. Waste. Waste. Waste. Waste. Waste. Subways. Waste. Touchdowns. Waste. Subways.
The taxpayers voted for me to have the parachute. I have the mandate to have the parachute.
I need the parachute because there are subways to build. I'm going to build a subway to Scarborough and, don't worry Ford Nation, to Forest Hill, Lawrence Park and the Annex for you. You're taxpayers too. You've got families, like me, and you've got compounds to get home to, like me. Family means a lot to me, but so do subways. Subways, families and Ferris wheels for families. Subways to Ferris wheels. And monorails. For the children.
I'm listening to you, Ford Nation, so I'll build a subway to Branksome Hall for you. I'll build you a subway to UCC. I'll build you a subway to Pusateri's. The good Pusateri's! I'll build you a subway to Scaramouche.
I'll build you a subway from Sporting Life to Scaramouche to Pusateri's: I'll call it the Scarateri line.
Ladies and gentlemen, tonight if you all look under your seat, you'll find a subway! A subway for you! A subway for you! Now, give me the parachute.
Ford Nation is about you and me, the little guys. I'm sick of these downtown bike-riding elites, flying their Porter airlines, telling us how to live. Why can't they take Air Canada Jazz like everybody else?
I get a little teary-eyed looking out at you, Ford Nation. You're beautiful but you've been a long time coming. Almost 20 years ago my father, Doug Ford, was elected MPP as part of a revolution, a Common Sense revolution that took this province back from the pinko socialists who had the taxpayers over a barrel. No more, the taxpayers said. We don't even know what happened to the head pinko Uncle Mike and Dad demolished back in '95 – I hear he's up in Ottawa maybe, doing temp work.
Give me the parachute, Ford Nation, and it'll be touchdown time. Touchdowns and subways and subways and subways and subways and touchdowns.
I listen to the people and I give them what they want. I heard, "Fire Ron Wilson!" in all the Tim Hortons I go to. I couldn't do that, so I fired Gary Webster instead. I do my best to give the people what they want.
Dougie and I have plans for the libraries too. Did you know they just give books away? They need to run it like a business. We're going to get Ultimate Fighting Championships into the Toronto Reference Library. Have you been in there? There are five floors of books. We'll get rid of the books, put a bar on each floor and 24/7 there will be UFC fights at the library. It will pay for the Sheppard subway.
Mr. Harper wants to have the parachute and he talks a good game about being a conservative, but I'm the only true conservative on this plane. Look at his boondoggles: a billion dollars of taxpayer money wasted on the G20 and billions more soon to be wasted on prisons.
WASTE WASTE WASTE WASTE. I'm the only real conservative here and the gravy train on this plane has Calgary plates.
I respect you, Ford Nation. You're taxpayers, not child pornographers.
Mr. Harper wants to violate your privacy and look at your e-mails and your browser history. You want to give him the 'chute for that?
I know something about my privacy being violated by the federal government, Ford Nation. In the fall the state broadcaster's head union goon Marg Delahunty violated me in my driveway. They disrespected my property. They disrespected my minivan. I was scared and went inside. I'd never let that happen to you, Ford Nation. Give me the chute.
I've fished with the guy, but he used kittens as chum and that's too much for me, so I went back to shore and drank beer with Laureen. Baird was there. He and Laureen really get into this cabana-boy role-playing thing. I don't understand Ottawa.
You know, I kind of liked the guy, but he won't buy me a damn subway. I asked for a subway for my birthday, and he said no. I asked for a subway for Christmas, and he said no. When I asked for a subway for Pride and he said no, I was so upset I left town and went to the cottage.
And then there is Celine. I love Celine. OMG I love Celine. Nothing relaxes me like Celine. Every night I put on It's All Coming Back to Me Now, run a tub full of bubbles, slip in, and return constituents' phone calls. This is my special time. This is Rob and Ford Nation time.
Celine is hot, ladies and gentlemen, hot like Karen Stintz. That makes me a little uncomfortable. Dougie says they're MILFs.
She's no friend of Canada, though. She was a Quebec separatist and vowed once only to sing in French, until she found out nobody speaks French at Caesars Palace. I took WestJet down to Vegas to ask her to buy me a subway, but she said no. I said I'd name it after René and it would go to Little Quebec, but she said no. The other thing is my brother Dougie says her music is kind of gay.
Don Cherry is the hardest for me. This is my guy, my man. He'd love a big mall on the waterfront. He'd love a monorail. He likes monorails in malls. He loves BBQ. But, Ford Nation, he's old. You'd be wasting the 'chute. Harper's going to cut his pension and the CBC is not going to be around for long. He's also no Leafs fan – he wears Bruins underpants. If he was smart he would have got a 'chute from the troops in Afghanistan when he fired that gun. But, Ford Nation, he's not that smart. Also, my brother Dougie says he's kind of gay.
In closing, Ford Nation, the people want parachutes for me. And subways. When people elected me mayor, they voted for me to have a parachute and they voted for subways. They gave me a mandate for subways and parachutes and that's the will of the people. Do not listen to the Toronto Star, do not listen to The Globe and Mail. Listen to the subways. Listen to the subways wanting me to have the parachute. I would like to quote my favourite political philosopher, Cicero, whose writing helps guide me at city hall, when he wrote, "The people want subways." So give me that parachute, or you're fired.
Shawn Micallef is associate editor of Spacing Magazine.