Katrina Clarke | July 1, 2014 | National Post
An East York teacher dubbed the “shirtless jogger” became a minor online celebrity Tuesday after videos of him confronting Toronto Mayor Rob Ford went viral. Joe Killoran, 35, was halfway through a run when he saw the mayor marching in an East York Canada Day parade. Frustrated by Rob Ford’s refusal to answer media questions after his news conference Monday, Mr. Killoran approached the mayor, hurling questions about corruption and accusing him of being “a corrupt, lying, racist, homophobe.” Mayor Ford staffers tried to hand Mr. Killoran business cards and block him while Mr. Ford walked away without responding. The National Post’s Katrina Clarke caught up with the “shirtless jogger” Tuesday evening.
What made you want to confront the mayor?
Oh I didn’t start out the day wanting to confront the mayor, I just went for a jog. And then I saw there was the East York parade so I thought that would be fun to jog by. I was just really shocked to see that he was there. I thought that was in really poor taste after the way he treated the media yesterday, the way the media allowed themselves to be treated and just the contempt he showed for everybody by refusing to answer questions. And then he was going to use Canada Day to prop up his campaign? It was really galling to me.
What went through your mind when you saw him?
I guess shock and a little bit of anger. He talks all the time about taxpayers and [does] this regular guy routine. He purports to speak for all these people and then he won’t answer anybody’s questions. So I said I have some questions for this guy. He’s going to come to East York, he’s going to come to my neighbourhood and try to prop up his campaign or get some photo ops. I didn’t think that was right when there are all these outstanding questions about him being a racist, a homophobe, feeding corruption that he hasn’t even addressed. He just shows his contempt for everybody all the time.
You’re getting a lot of attention online. Someone called you the most articulate shirtless jogger they’ve ever seen.
(Laughs) Well that’s a pretty low bar but it’s nice to say.
Do you think you’re asking questions people want answers to?
I hope so. I can’t speak for everybody but it’s certainly stuff that people I know talk about. It’s just amazing that he gets away with this. Other politicians have to answer questions. Regular people have to deal with the consequences of their actions and be responsible.
What happened after?
I continued my jog. I was only half way through. I actually didn’t want to take too long because I didn’t want to ruin the jog. I kept running and it was actually good because it was sort of a sluggish jog before that. But that got the blood going.
Are you a big runner?
I run a lot. I’m pretty slow but I enjoy it. I try to run four to five times a week.
Do you normally run with a shirt?
(Laughs) When it’s hot I run without a shirt. I’m a pretty hot, sweaty guy unfortunately. But no in the winter I put shirts on. I’m not like Randy on Trailer Park Boys or anything.
Are you supporting any mayoral campaigns?
No, I’m not. In fact I’m not even sure who I’m going to vote for. You don’t have to be some partisan maniac to be angry with this mayor.
Is there anything Rob Ford could do at this point to make you vote for him?
If he resigned and came back in a number of years having addressed these things. Certainly if he had different ideas and showed some respect for people. I don’t think anybody’s beyond redemption but I think he has to answer peoples’ questions. He has to respect the citizens of Toronto.
Did you think he would answer your questions?
I didn’t know. I thought he might say something. Something in me sort of felt like I couldn’t just let this travesty take place in front of me. This guy was going to wave Canadian flags and hand out business cards and fridge magnets. I have sympathy for him with his personal problems but he has to be responsible to the people of Toronto. If he wanted to resign that would be fine and everybody would leave him alone.
Were the mayor’s kids with him when you confronted him?
I don’t know. I certainly didn’t know that if they were.
Would knowing they were with him have changed anything?
It probably would have but at the same time that’s not a strategy either, to refuse to answer peoples’ questions and then bring your child out to public events. I wouldn’t try to yell at someone in front of their kids. But Karen Stintz has kids too. A lot of people have had to explain to their kids about his behaviour.
Is there anything else you’d like to say to the mayor?
Not really. But one thing that really bothers me most about the mayor is that I teach politics and I love politics and I think it can be a noble profession. I may have my own political views but I love when my students develop right wing or left wing or libertarian or whatever views they develop. He has debased the profession. A lot of students think of politics as like an episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians. I’m not even kidding. They think it’s another tawdry reality show. He has done harm in that way from his own selfishness.
I have to say you sound like a politician. On social media some people say you should run for mayor. Would you consider running?
No. I like being a teacher and I don’t think I’m qualified to be mayor. But that’s flattering.
This interview has been condensed for length.