The Return of Super Mayor!

February 16, 2014 at 8:27 pm (Uncategorized)

OK, I live in Toronto. A city that used to imagine it was New York run by the Swiss – hardly true, but people can dream. Still, whenever I mentioned I was from Toronto, most people had a fairly positive image of the city. (“clean” and “safe”) These days, the question is “What’s with that Rob Ford?”

Yes, indeed. What IS with that Rob Ford. For those who don’t watch late night TV or read newspapers, Rob Ford is the former suburban councillor who ran for mayor on a cut-the-gravy-train /lower-taxes-for-the-little-guy platform (more of a mantra really). And despite his clownish past behaviour (drunkenly abusing patrons at the Air Canada Centre, denying he was there, then admitting it – actually, now that I think about it , that’s Ford’s MO), he was elected. Handily.

Since then however, Ford’s personality and embarrassing list of colourful achievements have made him an international laughing-stock as Toronto’s crack-smoking mayor. There were allegations of drunken behaviour, groping female councilors and most infamously smoking crack with suspected drug dealers (who else would you smoke crack with?). Ford denied it all

Until…Police chief Bill Blair confirmed the existence of a video. At this point, Ford fessed up. Yes, he had smoked crack but he hadn’t lied about it because the media had actually asked him that (they had, but hey). And finally, in a completely out of the blue moment, Ford denied he had ever wanted to eat a co-worker’s “pussy” noting, in what he appeared to think was a moment of wit, “I have plenty to eat at home.”

And then silence. A few interviews in which Ford adopted a semi-repentant tone. He was no longer drinking – that was over. He had apologized. What more could he do?

Yes, yes, there were suspicions Ford did not declare a state of emergency during the December ice storm because he would no longer be in charge, (Ford had lost that right earlier in the year – he could declare a SOE, but then power passes to his executive committee) but nothing really to speak of.

And then it began again,. A video surfaced from an Etobicoke restaurant where Ford swayed drunkenly speaking in a slurred Jamaican patois cursing the police chief. Shortly after his brother Doug denied Ford was drinking again, Ford admitted he was, but suggested since it was on his own time, it was his business (so much for the suggestion he was done with drinking). Parenthetically, we should all have a brother as loyal as Doug Ford. Brother Rob could run down the street butt naked with a gun in one hand and a big bag of crack in the other, and Doug would blame the liberal media.

Last week he admitted he had lied abut not lying because he was embarrassed about it. Also last week, Ford got a ticket for jay-walking in Vancouver and saw allegations surface he was served alcohol after hours in a bar there .

Not to be outdone, this week Ford has called for a rainbow flag flying at city Hall in Toronto to be taken down and replaced by another Canadian flag. Ford also announced he would not be attending the World Pride events this summer because he ” couldn’t change who he is. Er…what?

It seems Ford is going after the homophobic vote, which might not be a good idea given the size of the city’s gay and lesbian community.  And moreover, wasn’t that a fight that ended decades ago? Gays and lesbians are…well, just as boring as straight people.

My wife believes that these little pieces are actually Ford’s strategy of staying in the public eye – a sort of buffoonish version of Wilde’s notion that the only thing worse than being talking about.,

I’m almost convinced that Ford’s antics are some sort of wacky performance art piece. Despite his self-made man persona, he was born into money so he doesn’t really need to work. Maybe he’s in a decade long version of an Office-type program.

So the great hope now is moderate conservative, failed Tory party leader and ex-Mayoralty candidate John Tory or possibly Olivia Chow. My only experience of Ms. Chow is at an anti-war rally a few years back. I was there with my four-year old and Chow and her husband, Jack Layton, came through the crowd. Olivia glanced at the boy and whispered, “so cute.” Good taste, but not yet a policy.

Of course, Ford is an unpleasant bully with a substance abuse problem. And that’s what makes his backers nervous. They see the agenda which Ford stands for going down with him. Sure Chow or Tory would superficially be different to Ford (OK, in terms of public fuck-ups probably substantially different), but would the underlying agenda be fundamentally different?  I’m going to say that under a Tory or Chow regime, or hell, under a Ford one, things would largely continue to go in the same way. Vanilla, Chocolate or Strawberry. It’s not much of a choice.

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