Then Rob Ford's chief of staff, Towhey wrote in an excerpt published in Maclean's that he transcribed what he heard. It's one of a number of incidents catalogued in a new 360-page book, Mayor Rob Ford: Uncontrollable: How I Tried to Help the World's Most Notorious Mayor that's being released at the end of the month.
"At the moment, the mayor and his wife are having a no-holds-barred screaming fest, but that's not illegal. My parents used to have those when I was a kid. No one got hurt. Not physically, anyway," Towhey wrote in the excerpt.
CBC News was unable to independently verify Towhey's account. Requests for an interview were declined, pending the book launch later this month.
In the excerpt, Towhey said Ford called him so he could listen to a caustic argument the former mayor was having with his wife Renata.
The call lasted an hour and 40 minutes, according to Towhey's account, and bounced from an argument about cash in the house to drugs.
Portions of the excerpt published in Maclean's were redacted. In one section of the excerpt, Towhey wrote:
Rob: "There's $1,120 in cash in the couch, dude. You guys all knew about this and you never told me, f-kers."
He's still searching the room. I can hear him moving stuff around.
Rob: "I just found a big ----- -- ---- --- - ----" There's a long pause and I can't hear him well, as if he's put the phone down. But it sounds like he's saying, "I'll light this thing up."
Towhey also said Ford woke up his daughter, Stephanie, who was eight at the time.
"Rob: 'Steph, is Mommy being bad or good?'
I can half-hear Stephanie's sleepy voice.
'Rob, leave her alone,' I say, trying to sound stern but calm. Reasonable. An ally. 'Let her sleep. Don't drag her into your fight.'
Again, he asks his daughter whether her mommy is good or bad.
'Mommy is good,' she replies, in a tired little voice. 'Everyone in this house is good.' More mature than either of her parents, she's trying to keep the peace. My heart cracks. It's now 3:05."
The call pre-dates revelations of Ford's drug use and the release of a video that shows him smoking crack cocaine, as well as his subsequent admission to rehabilitation.
Towhey's publicist, David Glover, said the snippet is "one of many, many, dramatic incidents from the book."
And enough to put the Ward 2 Etobicoke North councillor in the spotlight again Thursday, reminding many of the tumultuous times during his mayoralty tenure.
Ward 30 Toronto-Danforth Coun. Paula Fletcher read the content online and called it "chilling to think what was happening in that family and for those little kids."
Towhey also wrote a couple times he grabbed his phone and keyed in 911, but never hit enter because he didn't think there was a safety threat. And he wrote, other staffers had told him those types of calls were common.
Though Fletcher criticized Towhey and Ford's staff at the time.
"All the staff if they were protecting Mayor Ford and not calling the police in a situation like that, that really raises questions. Mr. Towhey said, 'I had my finger ready to dial 911.' My question would be why didn't he dial 911? What was the culture around Mayor Ford here at city hall with his staff and other agencies that looks like they didn't want to have him caught for doing things?"
She added, "if that was the neighbour beside your house, you would have called 911."
On Newstalk 1010, Thursday morning, Towhey said, "it was a terrifying phone call to be part of, even just to listen." However, he said it was habitually difficult to determine "what was real and what wasn't real. [Ford] is a great exaggerator...not opposed to making stuff up."
He said that phone call was the worst he ever received but "they weren't physically fighting with each other."
Ford factor in election
In Trois-Rivières, Que. Conservative Leader Stephen Harper was asked about the backing from the Ford brothers.
Coun. Ford and his brother, former councillor and mayoral candidate Doug Ford are hosting a Conservative Party rally Saturday in Etobicoke.
When asked about the excerpt, Harper said, "I think you should put those questions obviously to those individuals," and said the rally is for the party and intended to unify Canadians, "who want to fight for an agenda of low taxes and balanced budgets."
Liberal leader Justin Trudeau said Stephen Harper "having to count on the support of Rob Ford for his re-election," is embarrassing.
"There's a lot of people talking in the news these days about the hypocrisy of the Fords and their drug problems and Mr. Harper and his positions on that. But that's not really the issue, as serious as it is, that strikes me most. What bothers me most is the misogyny."
He called it "irresponsible" for Harper to allow the event to take place.
Coun. Ford's current chief of staff, Dan Jacobs said the politician hasn't "had a chance to read the excerpt but he wishes Mr. Towhey all the best in his future endevours."
Doug Ford, Rob's brother, who was mentioned in the Maclean's excerpt, declined to comment.
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