Rob Ford fumbles again, but he doesn’t seem to care

Emma Teitel on the Toronto mayor’s football and transit debacle

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford watches from the sidelines near the Argos bench during a CFL football game between the Argonauts and Stampeders in Calgary on Aug. 18, 2012.(Larry MacDougal/CP)

Sometimes we get leaders whose ascent to power is hard to understand: i.e. how did we end up with this jerk? And other times, we get leaders who make us question whether or not they ever wanted to be leaders in the first place. Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, ever absent, and always cranky, is one of those people.

His life looks a lot like a bad movie, the kind in which a salt-of-the-earth football coach wakes up one morning and realizes that, by some magic, he is the mayor of a metropolis that doesn’t take kindly to salt-of-the-earth football coaches. Suddenly he’s snubbing gay people, tackling reporters, flipping off constituents and before he knows it, he’s embroiled in a series of scandals involving tax payer money and his own high school football team — two things that don’t belong in the same sentence, but so often are these days.

The Toronto mayor missed roughly two and a half hours of an important council meeting last week (the order of business being an $8.4-billion light-rail transit deal) to coach his team, the Don Bosco Eagles, in a high school football playoff game. “I’ve said this from day one. I’ve made a commitment. I’ve done it for 20 years and I’m not changing,” Ford said in his defense. Apparently, though, that commitment included disrupting two Toronto transit routes, abandoning two bus loads of passengers on the side of the road on a rainy day and redirecting buses to pick up the Don Bosco Eagles from their football game and shuttle them back to their high school.

The Toronto Transit Commission is livid that the buses were rerouted; something they say is supposed to happen only in an emergency. They’ve apologized. Ford has not.

And why would he?

The most annoying and entertaining thing about Rob Ford isn’t the fact that he is prone to scandal, it’s that he doesn’t really care. Any other politician accused and found guilty of abusing his power for personal gain would give a stock apology in the passive voice, or in the very least, an apology, but that’s not Ford’s style. For Rob Ford, it appears that any ethical misstep on his part is just another validation of his folksy wisdom and old-school valour.

But Toronto isn’t a Disney movie about a mayor who takes his high school football team to the city finals. It’s a real place, not to mention one where football isn’t all that popular. (If we were talking about Rob Ford’s hockey team, who knows, I might not even be writing this.) There is nothing redeeming or virtuous about a mayor who delays transit riders, when he can’t even find the time to get to work himself (and he drives an Escalade.) It’s also ironic that Ford’s excuse for skipping his job to coach football — and by extension rerouting a public bus route — is that his disenfranchised, low-income players need him. Who knows: maybe if those single mothers on the rerouted 36 Finch West bus signed up for lingerie football, they’d get some Rob Ford charity too.

For now, they’ll have to take the transit commission’s apology as a consolation prize.

Not that ethics violations are its primary concern: According to Toronto Transit Commission CEO Andy Byford, “The most unfortunate thing about this episode is the damage done to our reputation after more than a year of careful, painstaking steps to improve it.”

Wrong.

The most unfortunate thing about this episode is that Byford thinks it’s possible that transit riders hate the Toronto Transit Commission more now than they already did.

But that’s another story.




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Rob Ford fumbles again, but he doesn’t seem to care

  1. I support Rob Ford completely and will absolutely be voting for him in the next election. He’s doing the things that matter. The only “things he does wrong” are, well, evidenced in this:
    “The most annoying, and entertaining, thing about Rob Ford isn’t the fact that he is prone to scandal, it’s that he doesn’t really care.”

    And neither should we, yet the media covers every inch of his backyard, or his driveway, or his mom’s house in search of “scandal”.

    Meanwhile he’s cleaned up city hall, he’s saved the city money AND lowered taxes, no strikes have occurred under his watch and he’s hired the most competent TTC CEO in recent history. The facts are this: on policy, Rob Ford has been dead on.

    The truth is he’s left the media nothing policy wise for the media to criticize. They just bully and bully and bully him personally, and it just gnashing-of-their-teeth annoys them how it all rolls off his back. Rob Ford is the man and an inspiration to all those who stand up to bullies and freedom-lovers everywhere.

    Ford more years!

    • Assuming this comment wasn’t farce…

      Do you support two busloads of TTC riders being dumped in the rain so that Ford’s football team could get rides home? Is that appropriate in your world?

      • Personally, I wonder how the hell he did that. As the TTC says, reroutes are only supposed to happen in the case of an emergency. Yet here, somebody decided they’d do so on the mayor’s say so. Why?

        Perhaps Quebec has some merit to it’s claim that it’s not actually most corrupt province — maybe they’re just the worst at covering it up.

        • Best guess? School Princ Ugo Rossi asked the cops for a bus. Rossi is former OPP. A little “professional courtesy”, and with a vocal assist from the Mayor, and nobody is the wiser. I believe Ford wouldn’t know people were being booted from a bus, as he wouldn’t have thought about where the buses were coming from. he didn’t ask. He didn’t have to. The cops in Toronto love this guy. And it WAS the cops who asked for the bus, no question. They’re the only ones that can pull that weight with the TTC.

          • Exactly, it is the police who asked TTC to supply a bus, following a pre-existing protocol. AFAIK, the protocol does not allow the TTC to question the reasoning or the priority – they just respond to the request as quickly as they can. The fire department has a similar arrangement.

            OTOH, it is a bit odd that the coach of a football team would make a follow up call to the TTC when the bus seemed to be taking to long to arrive.

      • That’s not really how it occurred, is it.

    • Rob Ford as the victim of bullying.

      That’s really novel…just like I’m a reincarnated member of the 18th century French nobility.

    • Lowered taxes? He abolished the car tax, then raised property taxes.

    • Okay…

      No media has ever covered any of his backyard. Ford lied about Daniel Dale looking in his backyard in order to deflect from nearly physically assaulting him.

      Next: Ford has cleaned up nothing at City Hall, unless you count arbitrarily lowering councillor’s budgets and slashing his own, to the point where his staff cannot complete even basic research. Also, Ford has repeatedly used his own office resources to benefit his personal high school football team – precisely the same type of “gravy” he insisted City Hall was rife with, and pledged to eliminate.

      Next: The money he’s saved has been negligible, especially compared to the $500 million in gravy he PROMISED he would find and eliminate each year he was in office.

      Next: Ford has raised property taxes each year he’s been in office. Also, residential property taxes are lower in Toronto than anywhere in Ontario.

      Next: Fewer strikes have occurred, but the library workers did go on strike.

      Finally: The media cannot criticize Ford’s policy because at this point he has none. No coherent transit policy, no initiatives for fixing the Gardiner, no sensible ideas for what to do with the TCHC – nothing.

      The only bully in this picture is Ford himself. The man is an inspiration to no one except himself. 2014 cannot come soon enough.

    • get back to work, Doug.

    • That was sarcasm, right? Please tell me that was sarcasm. Alternatively, please tell me that the kool-aid you’ve been drinking is safely locked up somewhere.

    • Rob Ford has not lowered taxes.

    • Saved money? What by giving the police a huge raise? By ripping out bike lanes that had already been built? By canceling a valuable revenue stream so that his penny-pinching suburban base can save $5 a month (17 cents a day)? By paying penalties on work that had already been started for the LRT, to then have the same work re-started a year later? Only in “Ford Nation” can any of that be considered “saving money”. It’s sad and depressing that I live in a place where people like you not only elect guys like Rob Ford, but you’re not even self-aware enough to acknowledge the mistake. The entire country is laughing at us, and for very good reason.

  2. As long as voters keep electing politicians on the basis of who they’d like to have a beer with, or the fact they remember your name while slapping you on the back at a BBQ…..instead of what they actually know about running a city/province/country….we’ll get Rob Fords and the rest of his ilk.

    Elections are popularity contests, and therefore pretty much a crapshoot on ability.

  3. Honestly, the worst part about these football stories is still the fact that when campaigning for Mayor, Ford explicitly promised to give up his coaching duties if elected, to concentrate on running the city.

    When Ford says “I’ve said this from day one. I’ve made a commitment. I’ve done it for 20 years and I’m not changing”, what he’s actually saying is, “I abandoned that election promise on my very first day as mayor. Why are people still expecting me to keep it?”

    • silly ontarian. Consequences are for Liberals.

  4. Gravy Bus Ford!

  5. This is not charming or curious, but a classic example of the culture of impunity that seems to have enveloped right wing parties and politicians in Canada these days. This “misuse” of the public purse soon translates into rampant corruption and repression of diverging views, unless someone stands up to stop it.

  6. The only aspect of this article that I disagree with is the depiction of Rob Ford as “salt of the earth.” His ignorance of key urban issues, his laziness, and perpetual disdain for any criticism does not come from some blue collar distrust of ‘elitist politics’. It comes from his entitled background as a spoiled child of privilege. When journalists perpetuate the notion that he is johnny lunch box, it hides from view the idea that his behaviour is the result of being a bully, not a populist.

  7. The bus in question is the 36 Finch West, not 35.

    And Rob Ford’s suggestion that he had to “control” his team, when everyone else says they weren’t involved in a conflict, says a lot about his view of “his disenfranchised, low-income” black players. All black people lose their agency when Rob Ford shows up (i.e. “Nobody has helped out black people more than I have”). He controls them when they get out of line, helps them when they are in need. He doesn’t work with them or stand with them. He gives, and they receive.

    Are you okay with this kind of leadership, Toronto?

  8. Rob Ford found guilty…..Joe Fontana, corrupt City of London mayor – Province of Ontario, Billions of tax-dollars, your money missing….Canadian taxpayers money stolen – OK, maybe not stolen, but where is this cash.

    Are Canadians so ignorant to the simple fact our seasoned Canadian politicians are more concerned about themselves, their friends and families – than the very people who elected them into office….Canadians!

    Canadians require new laws to protect them from corrupt and greedy Canadian politicians, laws that will put these political idiots in jail where they belong…. look up, Canadian political scandals timeline – wake-up CANADA……Michael

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