"Not many outside the confines of the political wing at City Hall would guess it, but our new mayor is an expert with a knife. "
-The opening of the story "Knife Fight," from Knife Fight and Other Struggles by David Nickle (ChiZine Publications)
The first time I met Doug Ford was in the early spring of 2010: a Friday soon after his brother Rob Ford registered to run for Mayor of Toronto.
I'd known Rob for years: he was a vocal, gaffe-prone city councillor from Toronto's northwest corner who was known for using his wealthy family's money to pay for office expenses that would otherwise come from his taxpayer-funded office budget. None of his colleagues on council had much time for him, but he was a darling of local talk radio and a media magnet: a big, anger-prone guy who gave off the vibe of the late Chris Farley, and could be relied on for a provocative sound-byte from the extreme conservative end of the spectrum.
I write a column for Metroland, the Torstar-owned chain of community newspapers in and around Toronto — and I hadn't been terribly supportive of Rob as a councillor. That was where Doug came in — or rather, it was the point on which he called in.
"Dave Nickle. You're the guy that hates my brother."
Those were the first words he said after introducing himself. I was in my office in the city hall press gallery, putting some stories to bed for the weekend papers, and was a little taken aback. Doug, who was managing his brother's newborn campaign, wanted to talk.