Tag Archives: Mayor of Toronto

Mayor Rob Ford’s unerring instinct for survival

 

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Like the proverbial cat of lore, though a conspicuously rotund one, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is possessed of nine lives – one for nearly every fatal blunder possible in the brutal cosmos of elected office.

About the only outrage this recovering substance abuser hasn’t committed in his relatively short career in front of the footlights is an old-fashioned sex scandal involving a mistress whom the media’s hound dogs reveal to be a foreign spy.

Everything else – from public drunkenness to smoking crack cocaine with “persons of interest” to Hog Town’s sturdy constabulary – he has covered with enviable bravado and originality. It now remains to be seen whether he manages his public reconstruction with equal dollops of brio. 

He’s off to a truly Fordian start.

“When I look back on some of the things I have said and some of the things I did when I was using, I am ashamed, embarrassed, and humiliated,” Mr. Ford practically wailed before a crowd of Toronto reporters who had gathered at City Hall on Monday, exactly 24 hours after his release from 60 days of self-imposed rehabilitation at a facility far from prying eyes.

He said he was “wrong” and had no one to blame, “but no one”, but himself. He talked about enduring “some of the darkest moments” of his life as he relented to treatment that, nonetheless, “saved” his life. He blathered on about spending a good deal of his time in charge of Canada’s largest city – a metropolis of between two and six million souls, depending on how one parses census data – “in complete denial” about his “personal demons.”

Then he launched into a vigorous defence of his political record and vowed to represent the people of his city with matchless determination and characteristic devotion. 

The meta message, therefore, was along certain lines thusly: “Sorry for all the bother folks. but I’m all better now. Let’s move on; nothing to see here anymore. . .Anybody got a candy bar I can scarf? Getting off booze and drugs is hungry business. . .Gotta tell you. . .Ooo, is that a donut I see?” 

The degree to which one believes Hizzoner’s declarations of personal cleanliness and sobriety depends entirely on one’s perspectives about public office and what it may or may not do to those who serve at the democratic will of the electorate. 

Over the past few decades, Toronto has become a true melting pot of people from divergent world cultures. Some have zero tolerance for the sort of shenanigans that has typified Mr. Ford’s regime. Others are decidedly sanguine about their mayor’s peccadilloes and proclivities, if only because he has deliberately made a populist of  himself – a posture they appreciate. 

He’s no elite, they say. He’s a man of the people. And like any man of the people, he has his faults. We should forgive him for these, shouldn’t we? At least he’s not a nail-biting, politically correct elitist. 

Better yet, he doesn’t go around shooting people in the dark, as burgermeisters of many less enlightened cities in disadvantaged nations often do when their critics cross the line and commit the unpardonable offence of questioning authority.

But if this is, indeed, our litmus test for municipal leadership in this country, then we have reached a truly sorry state of affairs. 

Mr. Ford’s crimes against common decency demonstrate his colossally poor judgement. His tirades – drunken or otherwise – against his colleagues reveal dimensions of immaturity and paranoia that would otherwise fill a therapist’s calendar for years to come. 

He has yet to apologize personally to his rival for mayor, Karen Stintz, for outrageously inappropriate remarks he made about her while sucking back a few brewskis in a bar in April. 

And he has never acknowledged the shellacking his behaviour has visited upon Toronto in the court of world opinion. According to a CBC item posted to its website recently, “A new media-monitoring analysis suggests the Rob Ford saga received more intensive media coverage in the United States than any other Canadian news story since the turn of the century.”

Toronto mayoralty candidate Olivia Chow is right when she declares, as she did to the Globe and Mail this week, “The question is not whether Rob Ford is clean and sober. The issue is that he is a failed mayor.”

Still, will that matter four months from now when municipal election day rolls around?

This cat’s come back from the brink before.

 

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Rob Ford is ready for his close-up (again)

Trouble the water in Toronto

Trouble the water in Toronto

Now that Rob Ford is more popular than U.S. President Barack Obama and singing sensation Lady Gaga combined (at least according to Google searches), does Hollywood figure in the future of the world’s most famous mayor?

CTV reports, “In the wake of reported allegations he was seen on a drug video, Rob Ford searches on Google have surpassed some of the most popular figures in the world. In fact, on May 17, the day after Gawker and the Toronto Star reported on the alleged video featuring the mayor of Canada’s biggest city, Ford got more Google searches than (both Mr. Obama and Ms. Gaga) – that’s worldwide. Our Google Trends graph, which plots Google search terms based on search performance, shows the search term fluctuating in popularity from Jennifer Lawrence to Jay-Z levels ever since. Before the scandal, the mayor was about as popular on Google as Prime Minister Stephen Harper.”

And why not? The saga in Hog Town, where Mr. Ford reigns like King Lear – isolatedly and erratically – is made for the movies. Hell, this stuff even writes itself.

We may imagine the opening scene, in which the rotund, office-bound monarch ruminates on his life and the events that have brought him to this sorry state of affairs. He has just narrowly avoided a group of women who had arrived at City Hall with a birthday cake (he turned 44 on May 28), before entreating him to resign.

Then follows the flashbacks.

A happy and contented childhood attending Scarlett Heights Collegiate, playing football, horsing around with chums in the quasi-affluent Toronto borough of Etobicoke.

Vain attempts to keep up with his older brothers, Randy and Doug, whose extra-curricular activities may, or may not, have involved ritual dalliances with certain controlled substances late into the night and wee hours of the morning.

Ambitious dreams of becoming a professional football player; sitting out a season of university play on the bench; leaving Carleton after his freshman year; returning home to Toronto to join his Dad’s label- and tag-making business; hating it.

Then, in classic cinematic fashion, comes local politics to his rescue.

Three terms as a city councillor, during which he distinguished himself as an outspoken, if not always sensitive or even astute, observer of social values. And the gaffes. . .oh, the famous gaffes.

“If we wiped out the perks for council members, we’d save $100 million easy. . .all this office budget stuff is self-promotion to benefit yourself. Why should the taxpayers have to pay for it? It boggles my mind?”

His constituents loved him, the way Louisianians loved their populist firebrand Huey Long early in the last century. Mr. Ford’s big mouth could do no wrong, even when it uttered nonsense.

“We just need to get rid of these life-long politicians that just give out money to special interest groups and don’t serve the community. I’m really teed off. We need to get a new council or this city is going to go down the drain.”

And this: “If you are not doing needles and you are not gay, you wouldn’t get AIDS probably, that’s bottom line. Those are the facts.”

And this: “What I compare bike lanes to is swimming with the sharks. Roads are built for buses, cars, and trucks, not for people on bikes. My heart bleeds for them when I hear someone gets killed, but it’s their own fault at the end of the day.”

And, of course, this: “Those Oriental people work like dogs. They work their hearts out. They are workers non-stop. They sleep beside their machines. That’s why they’re successful in life.”

Then, in one dreadful moment, comes the Toronto Star and its allegations of a video that shows the mayor smoking what appears to be a crack pipe. And the great unravelling begins.

The accusations. The recriminations. The firings. The quittings. A city in turmoil. Reputations in tatters.

Still, at the end, there is that quieting denouement of all great, filmic melodramas – the silver lining, if you will.

We see a smile develop on Mr. Ford’s face. There is that birthday cake in the downstairs lobby, after all. It would be a shame to let it go to waste.

Fin. Fade to black.

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