|Former Toronto Mayor Mel Lastman, at the grand opening of his Brampton Bad Boy furniture store location Wednesday. (Jenny Yuen/QMI Agency)
TORONTO - Mel Lastman figures Mayor Rob Ford is making him “look like a genius.”
Lastman — Toronto’s outspoken mayor from 1998 to 2003 — said Wednesday at a Brampton Bad Boy store opening that Ford’s stubbornness may very well put the city in jeopardy.
“All I know is since I’ve left (politics), I look like a genius,” said Lastman, 79.
“I’m not a genius, obviously, but he makes me look like one. I know him, he’s stubborn and stubborn sometimes is good, but not constantly. You can’t be that stubborn and run a city.”
Since taking the mayoral office in 2010, Ford has had his fair share of public turmoil — everything from controversy over getting rid of bike lanes on Jarvis St. to his alleged conflict-of-interest involving $3,500 in donations to a charity that supports high school football.
Lastman, who also was no stranger to controversy during his years in the political realm, said Ford’s reign is dividing the city. He was he first mayor of an amalgamated Toronto — one that incorporated six municipalities and Metro council.
“He’s given credit for things and that’s fine, but the city is all confused. It’s in different camps and it’s crazy to divide it. When I became mayor it was the biggest merger in history,” Lastman said.
“Then (former mayor David) Miller tried to kill everything because it didn’t work for him. I didn’t divide the city, and that’s what is happening now. A mayor should not be any party, as a mayor. He’s got to be an independent and he’s got to be what’s right for the city and it’s not working that way. That makes me sad.”
After Lastman’s wife Marilyn was caught shoplifting in an Eaton’s in 1999, he threatened to kill then-City-TV reporter Adam Vaughan if didn’t stop doing stories on his family. Vaughan is now a city councillor.
In 2000, Lastman admitted to having a 14-year-long affair, with a former Bad Boy employee and being the father of her two sons. That led to a big battle in court over $6 million, which Lastman won.