Security staff and cops kept tabs on Toronto Mayor Rob Ford during his day at Ottawa City Hall last February.
According to e-mails obtained by the Sun through access to information, Ottawa police wanted their presence to be low-key around the scandal-plagued political celebrity during the Big City Mayors Caucus meeting Feb. 26.
At the same time, the city wanted to be prepared for the Ford circus.
“We will require increased security for that day as we anticipate a considerable amount of media as Mayor Ford may be attending,” wrote staffer Patricia Kent in the city manager’s office, noting the importance of confidentiality.
Ford’s presence was a factor in planning for the day-long meeting.
The police’s special events branch was given a “situational awareness” heads-up the day before the meeting that Ford was planning a press conference.
Ford himself had his own requirements.
“He’s looking for a controlled environment (not a scrum) and someone to introduce him and moderate the Q & A. We’re going to let him figure out who that person is,” wrote Mouktar Abdillahi, a media advisor with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.
Ford also asked that City Hall security accompany him to and from the press conference, according to the e-mail.
Before the meeting, Ford held an unmoderated press conference at a podium. After the press conference, he was stopped by people in the hall for autographs and pictures.
Police notified city security that an officer was at City Hall “out of sight and in position to support if required.”
While the security team received Ford’s official agenda and suggested security details, that information was omitted from the disclosure to the Sun, with the city citing safety concerns as the reason for holding back the information.
Security and police kept tabs on Ford as the day went on, but there were no problems reported.
They, like everyone else at City Hall, weren’t sure where Ford was going for lunch or if he would return to the meeting.
Reporters tailed him to the Clocktower Brew Pub in the Glebe but he returned to the meeting.
The last e-mail regarding Ford was sent at 4:37 p.m. by city security advisor Jean Francois Larcher: “All done with Mr. Ford. He left site with his staff.”
Ford’s presence distracted from the business of the day, which focused on transportation and housing issues.
Mayors from Quebec voiced the most public criticism about Ford, with Montreal’s Denis Coderre saying “I didn’t shake his hand and I didn’t look at him.”