Rob Ford’s crazed rant could hurt him worse than the crack video

Flaws are okay, but no one voted for the man in that video

by Charlie Gillis

(Mark Blinch/Reuters)

Let’s assume that Rob Ford survives next week—and given what I saw on that freak-out tape, I’m not sure I’m using “survive” in the figurative sense.

Is “Ford Nation” still four-square behind its plus-sized superhero?

This now seems the only operative question. Toronto city council has no legal means of ousting its mayor. A proposed amendment asking the provincial government to remove him is little more than faint hope. The mayor himself lacks the shame or honour to do the right thing by lowering his flag and heading for dry dock.

Unless … unless .. the new video (so named even though we’ve yet to see the first and second videos) triggers the gag reflex of the only people whose opinions matter to Ford: his voters.

You have to wonder. Not only does this two-minute, 53 second clip give form to our worst imaginings about the state of the mayor when high (“inebriated” doesn’t come close to covering it), it landed on the public like two-by-four to the temple. After six months of hype, the Fordites were braced for the ballyhooed video showing Hizzoner tugging on a crack pipe and taking the shiz out of Justin Trudeau. But this?

I think not.

Why would this, and not the rest of the avalanche of revelation about Ford, matter to his supporters? Think about who they are. Six out of 10 are homeowners—most of them in the ‘burbs. Nearly half never got past high school, and more than half are first-generation immigrants. My favourite stat (and the strongest known determinant of a Ford voter): 65 per cent commute by car.

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This all comes from a fascinating pile of data gathered by Zack Taylor, a professor of human geography at U of T who has looked deeper than anybody into the phenomenon known as Ford Nation. What he has found, in short, is the salt of urban Ontario. Working-class folks, with families.

It’s a great demo for a candidate fighting vehicle levies and property taxes. Not so great for one who goes snaky on camera while goofed on something a whole lot stronger than Labbatt 50. Because a lot of those voters worry about the effect of drugs in their neighbourhoods, or on their children. Because they perceive Ford as a candidate that, however flawed, keeps it real enough to push his agenda of reining in government and curbing the power of the downtown tax-and-spenders.

Many have been pleased to overlook what they saw at the mayor’s excesses. They’d give him mulligans on an episode or two of poor judgment—even ones involving narcotics. But this is different. The video is downright scary—a snapshot of the mayor when he’s out of his tree.

Those voters might accept Ford’s sheepish acknowledgements of such spectacle as “mistakes” made in “stupors.” But having seen him thus unhinged, surely they too would like some gesture, some meaningful step toward ensuring it doesn’t happen again.

No one voted for the man in that video.




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Rob Ford’s crazed rant could hurt him worse than the crack video

  1. “No one voted for the man in that video.”

    Actually, similar videos — e.g. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yOi2wIUCTnA — had very wide circulation during the election.

    Meet the 905, Mistah Gillis. They really did vote for this guy.

    • yep, nobody should be very surprised. And everyone has known he smokes crack since May. Time to make the voters the story. What’s wrong with Toronto?

    • Uhhh…the 905 area code is not within the city limits of amalgamated toronto. So, no, not a single person in the 905 voted for him. Rob ford is a 416 phenomenon, sorry

      • Oh, sorry, my error.

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      • Gee, pardon me for not having the exact contours of Ontario’s area codes carved in marble on my mantlepiece.

        • Well if you’re gonna post do a little research first.

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  2. Ford, in his previous drunken appearances in public, has seemed to be a pretty jovial guy. The guy in the video isn’t jovial – he’s enraged. IMO, that ain’t alcohol at work.

    • Cocaine rage? Mere speculation my part.

      • He struck me as just really overpowered by rage, like a toddler. He could have been sober.

    • Not true about being jovial. He got kicked out of the ACC for being drunken and abusive. Then he claimed that it never happened and that the press were liars.

      In this video he is almost certainly on some kind of stimulant. Cocaine is a stimulant. Alcohol is not.

      • Not true, Alcohol Acts as a stimulant in smaller dosages and as a sedative in larger doses, get your facts straight before you post.

        • Not True. Alcohol does not work as a stimulant in smaller doses… it depresses the part of the brain responsible for inhibition……get your facts straight.

    • I suggest that this is just how Rob Ford acts from time to time without benefit of any drug or alcohol. Alcohol is simply his excuse for his behaviour.

  3. Strangely enough, this could benefit Stephen Harper.
    It’s time for the Conservatives to unleash Trudeau pro marijuana legalization attack ads in southwestern Ontario. The desired inference: Surely all drugs must be bad- look what they’ve done to Rob Ford.
    Harper will always look for ways to blame JT for everything

    • Alcohol is a killer drug that causes the death of both those using and those who just happen to be driving on the same roads as the alcohol user. Since it has been proven to be far more dangerous than pot perhaps it time we criminalized it’s use. Either that or legalize the far less harmful drug and focus on the real killers like cocaine and heroin and whatever the hell krokodil is before it comes to Canada.

      • Drugs are only harmful when abused, any substance can be harmful when abused, Cocaine and Heroin are very powerful medicines when applied properly by doctors who know how to properly use them. But the west has demonized them to such an extent that they have been labbeled as the devil himself, When they are no more harmful than most legal pharmaceuticals like amphetamines and oxycontin. so wake up and smell the truth. The only reason Illegal drugs are so harmful is because they are illegal… No regulation on the manufacturer of the drugs leads to dangerous methods being used to make them and harmful adulterants added as fillers to make more profit, the real crime is prohibition itself, making any drug illegal is wrong. It always will cause more harm than if that drug were legal. It will also never stop those drugs from being consumed by the humans who want to consume them. We should be encouraging treatment centers to be created for drug addiction and all illegal drugs to be legalized and well regulated and dispensed responsibly under a well thought out system.

    • Considering that Harper’s friend Rob Ford has turned out to be a crack cocaine addict who admits he goes on drinking binges, I don’t see how the Conservatives can criticize Justin Trudeau for smoking a marijuana joint several years ago.

      • They are not warm and fuzzy people and if you think they won’t run pot attack ads to capitalize on the shock that one of their own is a crazed dope fiend/booze hound, then you don’t know Harper.

  4. When I watched that video, I think my heart just sank. This is a man who is self-destructing publicly. Obviously he bears a lot of responsibility for that – not least of all because his choices impact the people of Toronto. But I can’t help but feel sorry for Rob Ford.

    At his core, he’s trapped by an co-dependent relationship with his abusive brother. In 2010 he did something big. But on some level I don’t think he believed that he was up to the job. And as he experienced problems he has increasingly turned to alcohol abuse, that has made him less able to engage with the smart people that brought him into power (e.g. Kouvalis) and more reliant on Doug the thug.

    • I feel nothing for the guy, nothing at all. Whenever he had anyone at his mercy or vulnerable he put the boots to them. Someone get him out’a there for god’s sake! Afterwards he can get the help he needs.

      • It is precisely because Rob Ford espoused ugly, vindictive beliefs that mercy is powerful. But even on a strategic level, you won’t get rid of Ford with angry denunciations. His instinct is to fight, of course. Beyond this, I think he still holds out some hope that he can redeem himself. Giving up the mayoralty foregoes that opportunity.

        Rob Ford needs to believe that people care about him, and that there is some redemption in resigning and going to rehab. He needs to believe he has a future (and if he gets clean I do think he could be an effective spokesmen on substance abuse issues).

    • Did you see the interview with his sister and mother on CP24? It’s pretty clear that the problem is not just Doug. That whole family is nuts. Out of touch with reality.

      • I just watched the 1st few minutes of that interview. No wonder he won’t resign – it seems his whole family is determined to see him as a victim. After watching this it’s obvious to me that he is a victim – of his dysfunctional family.

    • If he is an addict unable to control his impulses, I hope he seeks treatment and those around him try to get him there. At that point I hope everyone has the decency to give him space and the time he needs to make himself whole. Public outcry and shame likely won’t help but they’re unlikely to hurt.

      But if he’s not an addict, then he’s just a dick who can’t handle his drugs.

      • He has to resign. The city deserves better.

        • Hell, even the suburbs deserve better.

    • Yep, it’s haunting and very very sad. “80-year-old birds… Randy walks…” and “Daddy.” Just so f-ed up and tragic. How could anyone see a family member in that state – especially when they’re under huge pressure – and not get them help? Not funny at all any more.

  5. Why is this a surprise to anyone? Mayor Meltdown has been ranting in public for years and Frod Nation loved it because they wanted a target for their frustration, someone to blame for being left off the gravy train. The only revelation with this is that someone very close to him is no longer loyal and that means his personal relationships are breaking down.

  6. Who filmed him…and in his own house…doing something like that?

    • My question exactly.

    • Supposedly he’s in someone else’s house.

      • His brother Doug’s?

    • One of his 10 000 enemies? Just a guess.

      • Really? I’d say it’s one of his friends since he probably doesn’t hang out and get high with his enemies.

        • With guys like Ford, it’s only a matter of time.

  7. Not sure when this was taken, but I find it almost as disturbing that the other folks in that room said or did nothing about it at the time. That level of rage just isn’t “normal “at all.

    • Well, that’s the level of rage a lot of women see right before they get hit.

      Cops have been called to Ford’s home for that too.

  8. The most important thing to emerge from the whole sordid saga which will forever form Rob Ford’s miserable legacy, is the need for any municipal council to have authority to dismiss an unfit mayor by majority vote. As it stands now, there is no mechanism in place to do that meaning that Mayor Rob Ford can be and is dictator-like in his stubborn refusal to step-down and there is nothing that any taxpayer or legal authority can do about it because Mayor Ford is simply not accountable to anyone period. If that was not enough, he has clearly shown that his extremely poor judgement and equally bad character have been as impaired as that of any drunk-driver. In fact it may even be worse by a mixture of illegal drugs and their combined effects. The final straw has to be the latest video where Rob Ford is seen in a profane murderous rant where he threatens an extremely violent death to an (as yet) unidentified person. Is there anyone left who is still making excuses for him? I hope not because Mayor Rob Ford is finished – and he HAS TO GO.

    • The Ford family legacy is simple. They and they alone, will prompt the city council do draft a new bi-law. The Ford bi-law, and it will change the way city hall can remove an oaf like him and his brother. They will go down as the reason why Toronto city hall changed the rules.

      • “The Anti-Oaf Law” has a nice ring to it.

    • I’ve generally stayed out of commenting on the Ford issue since I live on the East Coast, not Toronto, but this comment raised an mportant point I want to address. I think there does need to be a mechanism for municipal governments to remove a mayor under extraordinary circumstances besides already having gone to jail while in Office. However, I disagree that the threshold should be a simple majority vote, I would argue at least super-majority level (2/3rds or 3/4ths would be even better) just so it doesn’t get too easily used and therefore inevitably abused and turned into just another political tool. Generally speaking you aren’t going to get that kind of support for something unless it is truly broadly held and not just by one particular interest group/faction, and it is important to protect against that possibility when considering such a mechanism I would argue. To remove someone short of criminal charges/conviction despite being properly voted in should need more than a simple majority, otherwise you are treating the voters who voted for that Mayor with contempt, and you are also as I said before creating a tool that is too easily reached for whenever a significant political dispute comes up, and I don’t think that is a wise idea at all.

      So yes we clearly need a better protection mechanism against situations as we are seeing with Mayor Ford where a clearly problematic Mayor who should by most reasonable and rational people be seen as needing to at the minimum a leave of absence if not resignation refuses to do so can be held to account by a Council so it can resume normal working ability. Yet we also need to make sure we don’t create something beyond that, which is why I have suggested what I have. Something I wish people would remember is that when you make changes, especially changes to how power is given legitimacy and transferred in a political system you need to carefully think it through and make sure you don’t create a cure that ends up being worse than the disease. I see too much of that lack of foresight on things like the Senate on the Federal level, I would hate to see it on the Municipal just because people are so disgusted with what they are seeing.

      We need to value due process more than we do these days, and by that I mean not just the courts but proper legal codes of all forms. They truly are our greatest protection against not just the powerful but also against our own worst selves. Without them true civilization cannot exist IMHO, and the mechanisms by which we govern ourselves at all levels are a major part of the due process that define our societies and our lives, as little as we may be aware of it on the day to day level. It is why I am someone that cares so much for process issues, because without the process the rest has nothing to work from.

      Scotian

      • @ Scotian; Great reply with valid points /clearly made. Too bad that Toronto can’t seem to find a Mayor with half of the insight that you possess because the electorate would then (finally) have a competent leader that the people could respect. Thank you for your comments and… I will read them a second time!

        • *Blush*

          Aw shucks, twern’t nothin a’tal…LOL

          Seriously. thank you for that compliment, but it really isn’t all that impressive, I just paid attention in history class in school, grew up recognizing that civic responsibility means more than just casting a vote but an informed vote, which in turn means understanding not just the issues of the day but also the processes by which we govern ourselves. It really bothers me how much that last point in particular has been devalued over the past few decades, because how can we be informed responsible citizens when we don’t have even the most basic understanding of how our governing systems work? That the rule of law only works when the citizenry understand how it works and defend it when it comes under attack by those interests who find it in their way wherever they come from and whatever their political spectrum they identify as.

          I have argued since I was in public school that there needs to be more focus on making civics part of the basic mandatory curriculum in either jr or sr high school just so that people do learn those basics and why they need to know them. With that it would be a lot harder for liars to pander to ignorance for their own agendas to rise to power (not impossible, but definitely harder), and it also would improve the chances of getting better government in general because the politicians would know that they are being watched by those who get how things work and can tell when they re being played for stupid. This should be something people from across the political spectrum should agree on, such basic process issues and questions should transcend partisan lines because we all need the machinery to exist and be stable to have effective political power transfers, legitimacy, and implementation of policies.

          In our national motto we have “good government”, indeed it is the cornerstone, just as “the pursuit of happiness” is for our American brethren. I really hope and pray we can regain that concept, but the past decade in particular have left me very discouraged on that front. Still though the only way to guarantee the loss is to give up, and that I refuse to do, so here I am being the voice from the wilderness when it comes to the importance of process issues.

          Scotian

          • @ Scotian; Bravo – Once again! There is little that I could add to your well written remarks above other to say that the idea of teaching these basic principals of government beginning at student-level, is not only important but also a fundamental of democracy and freedom itself which these days is sadly lacking especially in sufficient amounts of “eternal vigilance”. Vigilance that is not only lacking, but also desperately needed. The unfortunate aspect of this? It’s far easier for people to just adopt simple ideals and then sit-back in the smug comfort of self righteous warm belief while remaining every bit as unaware and untroubled as the Dodo-birds were when incompatible species came to their shores.
            Thank you Scotian, along with my best regards!

          • I agree completely regarding your point about the need for vigilance, not that I expect that to come as any great shock or surprise. Your closing point is also something I have complete agreement with, indeed one of the SF writers I grew up enjoying for his social commentary on the human condition named Robert Heinlein had an expression one of his main characters loved that I took to heart. That expression is: “Never underestimate the power of human stupidity”, to which I’ve added two additional elements. First is “especially your own”, the second and the closing element “nor that of human kindness, both are equal in terms of intensity and randomness of occurance” So my version in complete form is “Never underestimate the power of human stupidity (especially your own) nor that of human kindness, both are equal in terms of intensity and occurance”. When I use stupidity though I am including the ability to self deceive/delude as well as the more obvious definition, because for me in terms of effect and impact they are essentially identical. One especially finds that to be the case when we are talking about the political dimension of things it seems.

            Most people prefer to live in a world of simplicity and certainties, it takes far less effort and keeps things nice and neat in their minds. The problem for me is that I live in a reality with almost no certainties of any type, where everything is a probability and everything is interactive on everything else making nothing simple or certain. I’ve never been able to see the world in simple terms (I have severe ADHD with some autistic trait and it seems that is at the root of this for me, it is why I am also not very good at simple or short comments either written or verbally) so it is not a pitfall I tend to fall into (I have others though, and some odd blind spots because I lack the ability to share the common mindset that prevails, I’ve had to spend a lot of time in my life learning to realize that this is true and then how to set up what could be best described as translation protocols between how things are seen by most people where they have it in common and where I do) and it also makes it more obvious to me that most folks really do prefer this mode of thought. Now, I can go into all the underlying evolutionary reasons why this may be, indeed those born like me 50,000 years ago would have been easy pickings for other predators because of that inability of mine, but that would be taking this way into the weeds and then some.

            My point is that the way we deal with opening up the minds of children to the complexities of life in so many other respects really needs to include basic civics. Not political indoctrination of any political philosophy (although I would love to see a basic exposure to the main/major parties and their political underpinnings as a part of said course) but rather of how our society is structured politically on all three levels, how they interact, the historical reasons that shaped them and more broadly why such are improvements over what we used to have to do to express political will, and the basic legal concepts upon which they are based. With just that alone I truly believe in a generation we would have seriously improved the political health of this nation for everyone across the political spectrum.

            Before we should be fighting about being conservatives, centrists, progressives or such we need to be unified in our respect for the rules of law that allow us to have these disagreements without bloodshed, because after all the whole point of politics in a democracy is to have such confrontations between various ideas and ideals for governing WITHOUT it being driven by the rule of might makes right and the best bloodletter wins Too many people just go politics, what is it good for, well I know more than enough history to understand just what it is good for and arguably it is just slightly less important then one’s ability to take a breath in terms of importance to one’s day to day life. Coincidentally enough both needs are drawing in something that is not visible or is something that impinges on basic awareness.

            We really do get the government we deserve in democratic structures, and the more people say to me they don’t vote because it doesn’t make a difference, or that they refuse to support the lesser evil because it is still evil (which they while being so perfect fail to see tends to let the greater/greatest evil win, so much better, really…*SIGH*) the more I say to them they have no right to complain because they have only made the problems worse, not better. I remember this old saw about how the devil’s greatest achievement was convincing humanity he didn’t exist, well one of the greatest achievements of those that don’t want a functioning democracy to exist is to convince people their votes don’t matter, their involvement doesn’t matter and that all are the same. This is why I believe to have a truly meaningful fix of our political culture we have to get back to basics in terms of focusing on the importance of process issues and teaching that to all our young so that when they become voters they can tell who is offering real ideas and who is offering snake oil.

            One last nit-pick…when did we start thinking being tax-payers were more important than being citizens? I find that to be one of the most disturbing aspects of the modern political dialogue, it makes it sound as if unless you pay taxes you are a second class citizen, by its very nature the term divides instead of unifies, as citizen does. This is not meant to denigrate those who pay taxes, however before all else we are citizens of this great country and it is our responsibilities as citizens that are the most important in the political content. We need to get back to using the language of unity in political discourse instead of always focusing on the language of division. While yes there will always be differences we still need to remember that at the end of the day despite those differences we are all still citizens of Canada, or else what is the point?

            Scotian

          • @ Scotian; You have the knack of loading more content into one sentence, than most manage to achieve at the end of a paragraph (or more). Of course the downside to presenting in-depth well written thought is that many are not able to focus well enough to absorb new ideas let alone adjust their own philosophy when presented with a valid but in-depth concept that requires one to absorb and then adjust their own views accordingly. Many prefer to simply stay at the comfortable surface-of-thought and a fine example of that are simple one-line comments on web-pages (such as this one) that generally earn more thumbs-up than do much-better but loaded comments because as-good-as they may be, they lack the instant gratification of a simple feel-good one liner. In conclusion, if one hopes to earn thumbs-up (or win points with their constituents), a good one-liner may worth more than a fact-filled presentation. “There’s a sucker born every minute” and no one is better at manipulating them than politicians who carefully engineer their every word toward-that-end – all the while thinking, “Keep it simple stupid”.

          • If I was here for the thumbs up or down then agreed I would have a problem. Since I am not, instead I am here to offer my views for any and all that are willing to consider them then I have no problem. I am well aware that my style of writing tends to be a bit dense and verbose, I make cracks about my tomes periodically, and of a form that is not considered the norm these days, but to me that again underscores just how bad the political discourse has become. For how can you have meaningful conversation and disagreements about something as complex and detailed as politics is without such kinds of conversations as at least part of the overall dialogues? One doesn’t need to write as densely as I do, but one does need to be more than be at the Twitter level. Since I see such a lack of people willing to do that I feel I fill a void/niche as much as simply expressing what I think about things, so I don’t really care about voting systems for comments, even if only one person reads what I write and finds useful insight from it then it has already more than repaid the effort put into the writing in my books for me.

            Thanks though for clearly appreciating what I have had to say, it is always nice to be told that one’s writing is being read and seriously considered by someone.

            Scotian

          • @ Scotian; Along the way, I have had several occasions to rub-elbows with professors although I am not one of them – and could never be. That said, I find much intrigue in their manner of approach to things because their thought processes tend to be in-depth, broad-band in scope and generally of sufficient flexibility to at least consider the views of others and save them as alternative ideas, even when they aren’t necessarily in agreement. Debating is another admirable skill that when sprinkled with some diplomacy and respect can yield positive results for either side especially when the wedge of sarcastic confrontation is not injected. My own goal is to continue learning and certainly your literary input has given me cause to pause-and-ponder. One example would be your “citizen versus taxpayer” analogy that made sense and which I have now adopted. In the past, I have visited a few chat-rooms on the web but it was not a satisfying process for me when most of the comments consisted of so few words, there was nothing to be learned except for a few pointed lessons on how to “not” treat others! Thank you for your time and your comments which are much appreciated by me and I would think, many others as well – even if they didn’t cast a vote!

  9. One other reason. If you support Rob Ford it sure makes it hard to tell your children not to do crack or binge drink when your urban hero does.

  10. I’d rather a fiscal conservative crack head in office then a Liberal or NDP

    • Ever since Rob refused to leave his family cottage to attend the gay pride parade you “MEDIA VULTURES” have never given him a chance . He has never did a thing right since then. You have drove him to this state and you should take the blame. How much pressure can a human take.

  11. When you vote for a man, you vote for him when hes at his best and when hes at his worst, Mr Gillis you seem to think that you are perfect, You make it seem in your article like you have never done anything wrong in your personal life, I am sure you have many secrets that if were revealed to the public would like destroy your reputation aswell, It never ceases to amaze me the amount of stone throwing hypocrites there are like you. Mr Gillis. Let he or she who has not sinned cast the first stone at Mr Ford.

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