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The Gravy Train podcast: Rob Ford's political legacy endures

Last Updated Oct 15, 2019 at 10:33 am PST

Rob Ford stands during a city council meeting. THE CANADIAN PRESS

What began as a look back at one of the most impactful figures in Toronto’s history evolved into a narrative on the rise of populous politicians and how politics has evolved all around the world.

The Gravy Train podcast by the Frequency Podcast Network will follow the life of Rob Ford and the political legacy he has left behind in a series of eight episodes, nearly a decade after he was elected mayor of Toronto.

More than 25 people in Ford’s life shared their stories including family members, staffers, and even some of the football players he coached, while journalists and politicians recall what they witnessed during his time on city council and as mayor.

Producer Jordan Heath-Rawlings said they started out telling the story of Ford as a person and a Toronto politician, but said they kept stumbling upon key signs during his mayoral campaign that mirrored what would later happen across the globe.

“I didn’t start out saying the name Donald Trump. I didn’t start out talking about Boris Johnson, but it came up again, again and again,” Heath-Rawlings said. “There’s no question, from journalists to politicians to people in Rob’s own family, they see Rob in the Donald Trump playbook and the Boris Johnson playlist.”

While Ford frequented the headlines during his time as mayor, Heath-Rawlings said they believe they have been able to pull a different perspective on the story in the years that have passed since he was first elected.

“We have people who felt that they had to be in Rob’s camp, politically, back then … and now they are able to look at with fresh eyes and talk about what it was like to live through this time when city council was non-functioning and in turmoil,” Heath-Rawlings said.

“On the other side, his enemies on council who obstructed him every step of the way, who are now able to look back and see it wasn’t just Rob Ford, it was something that maybe they didn’t understand about the electorate in Toronto and elsewhere and what was changing.”

“Here were two sides to Rob and we definitely have covered both of them,” added producer Stefanie Phillips.

Heath-Rawlings said after witnessing the rise of all these populous politicians, they believed it was time to “look back at when this blueprint was drawn up, and see where it came from.”

“Rob Ford had a tragic life and an enduring political legacy and if you want to understand the political times we are living in now, we need to look at it now,” Heath-Rawlings said.

Along with interviews from these key players in the Ford saga, producers have scoured through 680 NEWS archives to transport listeners back to his time in office and the subsequent scandals along with never-before-heard audio.

“Even if you were right there watching every moment, there are so many details of this story, the chaos that was Toronto between 2010 and 2014, that got lost in the shuffle,” Phillips said.

The podcast will be dropping its first two episodes on October 31, a date significant to the story of Ford. It was the date in 2013 in which then Toronto police chief Bill Blair announced they were in possession of the video that had been reported in the media that showed Ford smoking crack.

“It’s a pivotal date. It’s the day that everything went from partisan … to being a statement of fact backed up by the law,” Heath-Rawlings said.

Listen to the trailer below:

Watch the trailer below:


You can subscribe to The Gravy Train podcast on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

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