Comedian Mary Walsh recalls her Monday morning visit to Mayor Rob Ford’s house much differently than he does.
Walsh said the mayor’s daughter wasn’t there when she showed up in his driveway in character as the outlandish, loudmouthed Marg Delahunty.
“There was no child at all,” she told the Star. “I mean, was she inside his suit jacket? We never saw any children.”
Ford’s daughter was with him but fled back in the house crying and “freaking out,” the mayor told Newstalk 1010 Tuesday evening.
But in the clip that aired on CBC there were no children in sight outside Ford’s home.
Walsh, dressed in the red “warrior princess” garb her Delahunty character sometimes wears, ambushed Ford around 8 a.m. on Monday with a crew from CBC’s comedy show This Hour has 22 Minutes.
She said the mayor retreated inside his house and later emerged with a phone in hand as he was calling 911. That decision baffled Walsh, who said she wasn’t trying to alarm or upset him.
“I’m a 60-year-old woman with a plastic sword,” she said. “I was just going to give him a bit of friendly advice.”
Walsh said she called out to him: “Oh, a big husky guy like you, trying to call the police. Come on.”
The Toronto Police website says 911 should only be called in emergencies. They consider an emergency to be any situation where there are people or property at risk.
Spokesman Mark Pugash said police don’t comment on specific calls. Ford’s office didn’t respond to requests for comment.
The 22 Minutes crew drove away before the police arrived.
As Delahunty, Walsh has ambushed legions of Canadian politicians, usually dishing out humourous advice or criticism. But she’s never had a reaction like Ford’s, she said.
“It was a shock to me,” she said. “It was just in good fun, really. I was just going to say that us big loudmouthed buffoons should stick together.”
Walsh said Ford seemed jovial at first: he “sort of smiled” when she first called out to him, but said he had to get to work.
“I came up all the way from Newfoundland to talk to you,” she told him.
When he got into his van and tried to close the door, it was clear he wasn’t in on the joke.
“He obviously was not going to listen to any advice I had . . . or have anything to do with us whatsoever.”
Ford also told reporters he heard Walsh yelling “We’ve got you Rob Ford, we got you,’ which Walsh contends she didn’t say.
“I just said, “Mayor Ford, it’s me, Marg Delahunty!’ which is what I always say when I’m ambushing people.”
22 Minutes executive producer Peter McBain said the crew decided en route to the mayor’s house they would only approach him if he was alone.
The show first reached out to Ford in mid-August hoping to book him for an appearance. His office never agreed, McBain said.
“We felt like this was the best way to get a chance to talk to Mayor Ford.”
Walsh said the crew went to City Hall later that morning to seek out the mayor again. Instead they ran into his brother, Councillor Doug Ford, who seemed to know who Walsh was and played along with the act.
The CBC received less than a dozen complaints about the incident with the mayor, spokesperson Chris Ball said. The segment aired at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday.