ABOVE: Rob Ford, Joe Oliver team up for major infrastructure announcement
TORONTO – Shirtless Horde protesters were kept at bay while Toronto Mayor Rob Ford attended an infrastructure announcement at the Toronto Transit Commission Hillcrest Complex Friday morning.
The group, inspired by the actions of shirtless Toronto teacher Joe Killoran who confronted the mayor on Canada Day, sent a tweet out at midnight to advise its supporters to show up.
However, Ford was able to make his way inside the TTC building with only a handful of protesters outside greeting him.
Federal Finance Minister Joe Oliver, along with the Association of Municipalities of Ontario President Russ Powers, announced a 10-year renewal of the federal gas tax fund for Ontario municipalities.
The $8.1 billion deal will be shared among Ontario communities to help with infrastructure costs such as road repairs and investments to transit.
Minister Oliver called the agreement a “stable” and “predictable” investment that would benefit municipalities for the next decade.
Ford read from a written statement praising the extended Gas Tax Fund calling it “fantastic” and went on to reinforce his commitment to bringing subways to Scarborough.
He left the event without taking any questions from the media.
Earlier this week, several Shirtless Horde members heckled the mayor during an outdoor press conference he held on traffic congestion on Eglinton Avenue.
Scarborough businessman John Furr stood behind the mayor for the entire media event and shouted repeated calls for his resignation.
“Rob is not influenced by anything that happens in city hall. He’s influenced by the people outside,” Furr said during an interview on Global’s The Morning Show this week.
“Doug (Ford’s brother) says he’s a rock star where ever he goes. No. It’s time to show him you’re not a rock star. You’re not appropriate, leave.”
The Shirtless Horde has vowed to attend every public event Mayor Ford is in and make their voices heard.
Mayor Ford returned to work in July after spending two months in rehab for his substance abuse issues.
He has since faced mounting criticism from the media and the public for refusing to answer questions, but only providing interviews to select news outlets.
Ford is running for re-election in the fall and is currently a distant third in a recent poll behind mayoral candidate John Tory and Olivia Chow.