Canadian Paparazzi have a lot to learn

Canadian paparazzi
The Toronto Star VS Rob Ford
Image: Rob Ford, Christopher Drost courtesy of Toronto Life

Today’s story of Toronto Star reporter Daniel Dale getting sprung taking pics of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s property, highlights the skills gap between the British paparazzi and their Canadian counterparts. Poor Daniel was woefully ill-equipped for the job with just a cell-phone camera and a tape-recorder. A heavy telephoto lens would have allowed him to keep a safe distance away and doubled up as body armor in the event of a face-to-face confrontation.

The Star and the Mayor have a notoriously combative relationship, the Mayor has excluded the paper from press releases from his office and refuses to answer questions put by it, effectively freezing it out. Discovering a familiar young reporter scoping out his property was never going to set the scene for a feudal ceasefire.

When the Mayor “cocked his fist near his head and began charging at me at a full run. I began pleading with him, as loud as I could, with my hands up, for him to stop. I yelled, at the top of my lungs, something like, ‘Mayor Ford, I’m writing about the land! I’m just looking at the land!’ ” The terrified reporter dropped his phone and tape recorder and legged it.

Ford told CP24 that Dale was screaming.

“It was like unbelievable what he was doing and I caught the guy cold. It’s unbelievable what he did and I’m not going to put up with it. I’ve got the police here and if I’ve got to press charges I will. It’s pretty emotional. It’s tough on my neighbour. It’s tough on my family.”

Yesterday in the UK, the report by a cross-party parliamentary committee into media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s illegal use of phone-hacking and other underhand tactics to get to a story, stated that he was unfit to run News Corp. Perhaps he might consider transferring his business acumen into developing Paparazzi Correspondence courses. I can think of one young reporter who might be interested…


Related Links: Mayor Rob Ford chases & confronts Toronto Star reporter – Toronto Star

Whitby Shores, Whitby, Ontario

By Aisha Ashraf

An autistic Irish immigrant in a cross-cultural marriage, Aisha Ashraf is the archetypal outlander, writing to root herself through place and perspective. Published in The Rumpus, The Maine Review, River Teeth, HuffPost and elsewhere, her work explores the legacy of trauma, the nature of being an outsider and the narrow confines of belonging. She currently lives in Canada.


  1. Not clear from your post whether the reporter was actually on the property or not, but I can tell you that if the reporter was on Ford’s property, welcome to North America. Obviously he can’t beat the crap out of him, but your land/house are your safe haven, and you can protect the sanctity of them against interlopers. Not like the laws in some countries where burglars are given the benefit of the doubt. None of this trying to hash out whether a burglary is actually a home invasion leading to injury, assault or worse.

    1. According to Daniel, he was 10 metres from the Mayor’s backyard fence, taking pictures of said fence and surrounding trees. If someone was skulking around the back of my house, taking pics in it’s direction, I’d be suspicious too. Given the relationship between Ford and the Star it’s obvious why they didn’t call him to let him know what Daniel would be doing, and given the relationship between Ford and the Star, Ford’s reaction wasn’t particularly surprising. I’d say Mr Dale had a good idea the Mayor would be annoyed by his activity and that’s the reason for his fearful response.

  2. I should say that I’m not advocating violence; the Mayor should have instructed him to get off his property. It’s just that poor Daniel, representing a newspaper that the Mayor is openly antagonistic toward, foolishly sets foot on the guy’s lawn? Silly Daniel. We have our fair share of paparazzi but we keep them on a slightly tighter leash than in the UK. It’s a blood sport over there!

    1. I agree with you about not advocating violence, but I’m guessing too that Ford has to project a strong “don’t mess with me” image so that people don’t try it on. Also, people loitering around your home at dusk do have a tendency to make you feel threatened – of course Ford’s going to come out fighting…
      You’re right about the UK too. There are frequent incidents of physical violence because reporters have no respect for peoples personal space and privacy. The general consensus seems to be “if you put yourself in the public sphere, any treatment by the press is fair game”.

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