For bestselling author Linwood Barclay, it’s not Ford Nation — it’s Ford AbomiNation.
That’s why Barclay, whose thrillers are read by millions around the world, is aiming his golden pen at Premier Doug Ford in a new humour book to be published next month.
“It’s kind of weak on plot unlike the other stuff I write,” he joked about Ford AbomiNation, a 125-page tome that unflatteringly probes the premier’s first year in office.
“I figure that this book made me — and I’m not joking — 1/100th of what I get for a book deal just in the U.K., and so it was labour of hate,” said Barclay, whose latest suspense novel, Elevator Pitch, is on bestseller lists now.
The former Star columnist said Ford AbomiNation is a sequel to his 1999 book, Mike Harris Made Me Eat My Dog.
While the first draft took about nine days to write, Barclay admitted events kept him on his toes — and at his keyboard.
“The problem is every time I thought it was done, he would do something else that was monumentally stupid and I’d think, well, now we’ve got to go back,” he said.
Mercifully for Barclay, the premier spent most of the summer out of the limelight and delayed the Sept. 9 return of the legislature until Oct. 28 in a bid to boost the federal Conservatives’ campaign.
“So the fact that he took all these months off to lay low to help Andrew Scheer was the best thing that ever happened to me because it meant he didn’t do anything too stupid in the lead-up to the release.”
Illustrated by Globe and Mail cartoonist Brian Gable, Ford AbomiNation is divided into 14 breezy chapters plus an introduction and a conclusion.
On Ford’s departed chief of staff Dean French and last summer’s “French connections” cronyism scandal, Barclay writes:
- “It was a huge setback in the government’s mandate to find work for members of the lacrosse community. What is the point of getting into a position of power if you can’t use it to reward those closest to you?”
On the premier’s failed attempt to have his pal Ron Taverner become Ontario Provincial Police commissioner even though the 72-year-old Toronto police staff superintendent didn’t meet the initial qualifications:
- “This is more or less the reverse of what those Hollywood celebrity types did when they got their kids into Ivy League colleges by getting ringers to write their entrance exams for them. What Ford did was more akin to those colleges waiving the exams altogether.”
On Ford’s plans for the TTC, Barclay likens him to the ringleader in the 1974 Robert Shaw heist film The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three:
- “Of course it’s somewhat ridiculous to compare what Doug Ford and his people are proposing. In the movie, Shaw and his partners are well organized and know what they’re doing.”
On his office’s proposal for a customized police van with $50,000 in upgrades:
- “Premier Ford wanted a van. Not just any van, but a van outfitted with a leather sofa, a Blu-ray player, a big-screen TV, a minifridge, a bowling alley, a roller coaster, a fishing pond, and a barbecue.”
On the cuts to francophone services, including the elimination of the independent French-language commissioner:
- “In a heartfelt statement intended to put these issues behind him, Ford said: ‘Je suis tres sorry for le boo boo.’”
On changes to the education system:
- “Is it ever too early to teach a kid how to operate and maintain a boiler? If you start teaching children some engineering basics in, say, Grade 3, by the time they’re in Grade 5 they should be able to look after the school’s heating system.”
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Barclay also pokes fun at Ford’s obsession with “buck-a-beer,” his Ontario News Now promotional videos, his threatened use of the notwithstanding clause to shrink Toronto city council, and devotes a chapter on “training the new MPPs” so they leap to their feet for mandatory standing ovations in the legislature.
The famed writer admitted there was no shortage of material.
“Even now there’s stuff I think ‘oh gosh, I wish I could have gotten that in or I wish I’d gotten this in.’”