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Fired Ford chief of staff a former Kamloopsian with impressive background

Mark Towhey (left) and Mayor Rob Ford. (canada.com)

Mark Towhey (left) and Mayor Rob Ford. (canada.com)

The Kamloops connection to the controversy surrounding Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has a sense of humour, a distinguished background in the Canadian Armed Forces and a long career in crisis management.

Mark Towhey was fired as Ford’s chief of staff Thursday after nine months on the job, telling media as he left city hall, “I am no longer the chief of staff. I did not resign.”

The reasons for the firing haven’t been made public, though some media are reporting that he was terminated after a disagreement with Ford arising out of the controversies the mayor has found himself in during the past week.

In the two days since his firing, Towhey has been getting praise from newspaper readers. He has not commented on the reasons for his firing, but he certainly has an impressive resume.

KamHigh lists Towhey as being a student there from 1980 to 1982, and he has referred to Kamloops as his “home town.”

A friend says that following high school, Towhey attended the University of Victoria, where he was elected to the alma mater society, then joined the Canadian Scottish as an infantry reserve officer and then the regular forces, serving in Germany, Africa and Golan as a UN peacekeeper, as well as several postings in Canada.

He left the forces and got an MBA at Western University’s Richard Ivey School of Business, then established a crisis management company, serving as consultant in Canada, the U.S., and internationally.

In 2010, he helped get Ford elected as mayor, and was appointed chief of staff last August. In a feature about Ford’s key staff in April 2011, when Towhey’s position was director of policy and strategic planning, the Globe and Mail described him as a “strategist” and wrote:

“An ever-present broker during council votes and debates, Mr. Towhey was a consultant specializing in crisis management for the likes of McCain Foods, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce and the federal Department of Defence prior to joining the Ford campaign.

“He worked on two failed federal campaigns for Conservative Jon Capobianco in Etobicoke-Lakeshore, the riding currently held by Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff, and once blogged in favour of selling the TTC to the private sector. In the mayor’s office, Mr. Towhey is the architect of incorporating the election platform of Rob Ford, the candidate, into the agenda of Rob Ford, the mayor.”

Friday, the Toronto Star wrote: “Appointed as Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s chief of staff last August and fired on Thursday, Towhey was arguably the most important — and some would say the smartest — person on the mayor’s team.

“Towhey was assigned to steer Ford in the right direction, find the right venues for Ford to appear at, identify media who could be sympathetic to him and plot strategy for the press secretary.”

Towhey’s sense of humour shows up in his tweeting from time to time. After a horde of television cameras and newspaper photographers recorded his departure from City Hall on Thursday afternoon as he got into his car and drove off, he tweeted, “Very happy now that I remembered to wash my car yesterday.”

Friday, in an apparent reference to a controversy over Ford sticking “Rob Ford Mayor” fridge magnets on cars in a parking lot of a church, and in the context of the past week’s uproar, Towhey tweeted, “This week in review: all in all gotta be pretty happy with the way we buried the magnet story.”

Today, he tweeted, “From my upcoming LearningAnnex wrksp ‘How 2 get 1,000 Twitter Followers in 1 day’ Step 1 Help elect a big city mayor Step 2 buy fridge magnets…”

One of those new followers is yours truly.

About Mel Rothenburger (8573 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

3 Comments on Fired Ford chief of staff a former Kamloopsian with impressive background

  1. Susan Duncan // May 26, 2013 at 8:11 AM // Reply

    I guess the old newsman’s still got it.

    Susan

  2. Sounds like a scoundrel to me.

    You won’t remember this, but I believe you interviewed me for a job once. I was a student at KSS (1981 or ’82 I think) and a teacher referred me to you when the Daily News was looking for a student to cover sports for the paper. I was a pretty good writer at that age, but not a great sports nut. It was, for me, pretty cool to see inside the workings of a daily newspaper and get to meet the editors! Didn’t get the gig, though. Wonder how things may have been different if I had.

    Cheers, Mark

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