I’m not sure what was more shocking yesterday, the fact the Argos won the Grey Cup (what? a Toronto team wins something – don’t talk about the
Jays, that was 20 years back) or the light dusting of snow the city received – winter is coming.
But all of that was blown away by Rob Ford’s removal as Mayor of Toronto following his breach of conflict of interest rules. Now Toronto’s little Mayoral upset doesn’t come close to Quebec scandals involving mafia style stories of envelopes stuffed with cash. Instead, Ford’s downfall is over a minor matter exclusively of his own making.
When he was a city councilor, Ford solicited money for his charity, a football foundation, using city letterhead. The implication possibly being that giving to the foundation might curry favour at city hall (for a man seemingly obsessed with saving the taxpayer money, Ford often seems unaware of where taxpayer money begins). Letters from the city’s integrity commissioner telling Ford to repay the money were ignored. After Ford became Mayor, council debated the matter. Ford spoke and voted against his repayment. And here’s where the conflict came in. Although given Ford’s boorish personal style and general contempt for rules he doesn’t like, the action seems more of a calculated “fuck you” to the Integrity Commissioner than anything else.
For those of us who have lived here a while, it seemed all too much like the echo of Mel Lastman’s ghost.
It’s hard to get too excited about this, even as the spectacle is amusing, but there are those who argue that this is the way to go. Years ago, the Bookchinites pushed for involvement in government at the municipal level arguing that municipal government was the most responsive (true, but also the most corrupt). The efforts of Ecology Montreal did not go well. In Toronto, the old Revolutionary Workers League ran candidates for Mayor and I think city council. The fascist Don Andrews also to run for Mayor.
But what about Toronto?Assuming Ford loses the already announced appeal, there will likely be a by-election to choose a new Mayor in which Ford will run, and if he wind will be even more self-righteous. So who will challenge Ford? Olivia Chow, at time of writing a social-democratic MP, is a name being kicked around by many. Now I won’t vote for her, but I do like her. Years ago, I was at an Iraq war rally down by the courthouse of University Avenue with my son. Olivia and her husband Jack Layton came through the crowd. they paused to speak to somebody and Olivia looked down at my son, “so cute” she said. I don’t like her politics, but she has good taste.