Rob Ford is Tony Soprano

— which is why we love him …


(Mark Blinch/Reuters)

Rob Ford’s core constituent support remains strong despite the numbing avalanche of revelations in the past six months. His fans routinely tell reporters and call-in shows that the man is only human, nobody’s perfect, and he’s delivering on his election promises; everything else doesn’t matter. The rest of us slap ourselves on the forehead, baffled (and often weeping): How can anyone possibly still support the man who has redefined “higher office,” especially after all this? Who are these people?

I know them well, despite the fact that my circle of friends consists almost entirely of the centre-left, HBO-watching, downtown Toronto media elite who grew up on alternative culture. We, of all people, should know Ford Nation.

Rob Ford is punk rock. Rob Ford is gangsta. Rob Ford is counterculture.

Anyone, like me, who’s ever been to a show where the performer encouraged the audience to all raise their middle fingers should understand Rob Ford’s f–k-you posturing. Anyone, like me, who thought that primitive musical skill was superior to conservatory learning should understand why Rob Ford doesn’t feel it’s important to have his gut feeling swayed by expert assessments. Anyone, like me, who thinks our political system rewards only mealy-mouthed compromisers should at least recognize that Rob Ford doesn’t bend with the political wind, which is central to his appeal.

So we watch The Sopranos and sit around and talk about what a fascinating, complex character was portrayed by the late, great James Gandolfini, how brilliant the writing was, how it changed television forever. We talk about how Omar is the coolest character on The Wire and admire Stringer Bell’s business acumen. We give a cultural relativist pass to Eminem’s embodiment of A Clockwork Orange’s Droogs, give him Grammys and claim he’s just a storyteller and no, of course he’s not vicariously acting out some strange corners of our own psyche. We can put Snoop Dogg on Sesame Street.

We can bury our love for these characters in as many layers of irony as we want, but we should then also understand why Rob Ford prevails in the hearts of his base.

Naturally, I find Ford’s policies and bullying tactics reprehensible. And right now his (admitted) drunken stupors, (alleged) coked-out rants and (admitted) adventures in crack have yet to produce criminal charges. (That may change—oh, I don’t know, in an hour.) Based on current evidence, if I was remotely sympathetic to anything he stood for, he might be a hero. See: Ted Kennedy, revered lion of the U.S. left, lucky enough to exist before cellphone videos.

Ford Nation is now experiencing the persecution complex Clinton Democrats did in the ’90s; the crack video is their Whitewater, assumed to be delusional character assassination fostered by vowed opponents of a political hero grasping at straws.

Speaking of former heroes, Barack Obama’s approval rating as of this week is 39 per cent, according to CNN. Rob Ford’s approval rate in the last week, after the latest revelations, rose from 39 per cent to 55 per cent.


Rob Ford is Tony Soprano

  1. If Mayor Ford very publicly gets substance abuse counseling he will win the next Toronto municipal election by a larger margin than last time.

    • Not without the help of a massive amount of money for Public Relations firms who are essential for scripting him and creating an election persona. You think Harper’s going to back him again? He’s going to send the Con money to another candidate. Watch for whoever has the flashiest ads/social media/people holding up signs at events. That’s who Harper will be backing.

      • Agree, the brains behind the last campaign said they were out in June 2013:
        “Neither Nick Kouvalis nor Richard Ciano, the campaign managers credited with vaulting Rob Ford into the mayor’s chair, will help Ford get re-elected in 2014 unless he takes steps to clean up his “health and well-being.”

        I still find it interesting that Ford’s substance abuse was well known by those close to him and on City Council, but has only captured everyone’s attention and concern very recently.

      • Um, forgive me, but do you live here? They had a picture taken together, as happens all the time with different levels of government around the world. Your suggestion of financial support from the federal Conservative Party is pretty funny given that (a) Our donation laws, which as you know are quite strict, and (b) the biggest Toronto voting and money bloc is the dependably liberal downtown, who would have sniffed that gem out long before your current revelation.

        I gather you’re a proud supporter of The Adscam Party and all THAT means but never came to light.

  2. You know, Mayor Barry of DC smoked crack. The difference between Canada and the USA is, as soon as the cops had video of the Mayor smoking crack, they arrested him.

    • So thank God we live in Canada.

    • almost correct.

      the incident in the DC hotel room was a police sting operation.
      they knew their target and were watching & listening on CCTV before breaking-in for the arrest.
      the event video was filmed by police, not a 3rd party.

  3. Anyone with ½ a brain should know this man is totally unfit for public office. He is a drug addict, a bully and a liar. He refuses to take any responsibility for his actions. A very dangerous man to have in public office.

    Sadly, he is also a metaphor for how dysfunctional Toronto has become.

  4. Omar the same as Soprano and Ford – wow, you don’t get it.

  5. To be fair, Tony Soprano was a competent mob boss.

  6. Is the 55% correct? I haven’t seen any poll above 43% in the past little while.

  7. Last comment on this dud! I am originally from T.O. but if the city is ruled by Ford nation then I am certainly happy I do not live there anymore.The drug dealers of this city must be smiling as it seems the city approves of having a drug abuser running it.

    • I m glad you dont live here any more too Debbie

    • Why did you leave pre-Ford Paradise Debbie? Maybe the crushing taxes and regulations, like Canada’s only city-specific land transfer tax? Or the contempt for car owning citizens like the insane bike lane on Jarvis and the St Clair Ave nightmare? That’s life in lieberal cities, isn’t it?

  8. This is a facile comment on the Mayor’s election, the complex communities that voted for him and continue to support him, and his administration; never mind the gloss of punk rock (seriously, what wave is Ford Nation – the ’77 London punk, the 80’s HC from SoCal, 90’s emo – what? is the lingerie football team the equivalent of riot grrrl?) or gangsta rap. You should know better than to write like this and your editor should have never let this out the gate in this form.

    • It is as good as any other theory I’ve ever heard, for this unexplainable morass. How does one otherwise account for such support for a man so demonstrably unable to perform the function he has been elected to?

  9. Michael Barclay says “Ford Nation is now experiencing the persecution complex Clinton Democrats did in the ’90s; the crack video is their Whitewater, assumed to be delusional character assassination fostered by vowed opponents of a political hero grasping at straws.”

    Comparing Clinton and Ford is silly. Clinton was still capable of performing well as President. Ford is being criticized because the drug use, lies, attitude, and dealings with shady people are connected to why he can not perform well as Mayor.

    • Not performing well as mayor? What would YOU be smoking? He’s been doing a good job, making government smaller and saving taxpayers money. The buses are running and the garbage is being picked up more cheaply than when the last liberal poseur ran TO. The only dysfunction in Toronto is the left wing mob that STILL believes it has the moral authority to skin voters alive year after year without question.

      And I’d be careful using Slick Willie as your poster boy. He is an adulterer is he not? And he did it right in the office he was sworn to respect and uphold, right? What a lesson for the school kids he was. Sheesh.

  10. DC Mayor smoked crack. Barry Soetoro (Obama) did cocaine. And George W Bush (allegedly) also did cocaine. So as you can see, our politicians are all coked up.

    However, I note that nobody asked Bush or Obama to leave office due to cocaine consumption.

    I am more troubled by the “kill” video. He doesn’t look drunk on that video. He looks all coked up, ready to kill. That’s the most disturbing thing I’ve seen so far. Everything else pales in comparison. Scary guy.

    • Obama and Bush didn’t ‘do’ cocaine while in office, besides crack cocaine is said to be far more potent and addictive.

  11. I disagree. Tony Soprano was the top guy, a planner. Rob Ford is not. Doug Ford is a more apt Tony Soprano comparison.

    Also, Ford Nation is comprised of voters. The F-you young culture doesn’t vote. I think I know who the Rob Ford voters are. 905ers, not the ones who built their own houses before the developers moved in and were engaged in the nuances of small town building, but the masses of individuals who spent big money on small cramped lots. These are the people who have no idea that infrastructure was built by developers but paid for with debt by the towns and therefore all their tax money has been sucked up to pay debt incurred before they got there. These massive sewer and paved lots/roads were not financed by magic. Instead of being honest, the politicians (municipal, provincial, federal) convince these voters that their lack of funds are previous “wrong” spending on social programs by previous governments. And people just believe that. When they look at new development, they don’t assume that the developer made a killing and can now afford a private jet and they, the homeowner, is going to pay for that development for decades and their municipality has no consideration for social programs like daycare, etc. Because these are relatively new immigrants coming into a new development, they have no baseline to realize how far their tax money really should go in a well-run municipality that didn’t build infrastructure by relying on future growth.

    Anyways, these are the type of people (not different personalities but a common experience) who can be convinced by people like Rob Ford that social programs (or the gravy train) “stole” their tax money, and not developers.

    • Say what? 905ers by definition do not vote in Toronto since they live in Mississauga, Markham, etc. For the past 20 years, developers have paid for almost all of their physical infrastructure via development charges. These are of course passed on to homeowners.

  12. Leave the man along he had enough of these reporter on his back

  13. You cannot trust telephone polls anymore as the last few elections (Federal, AB, BC) have proven. Telephone polls only capture people who either do not have call display or are still using land lines and represent a demographic that is older and poorer than the average. The industry’s professed “accurate to plus or minus 3% points 19 times out of 20” is fiction.

  14. So are you saying that if Obama had just smoked crack and not passed Obamacare his ratings would be in the mid-50’s? Interesting…

  15. I really don’t know this guy personally, but who isn’t on drugs these days in 2013? I mean you have to be on something to be able to conceive and accept all the flaws of todays society. I saw ”hypocrite” (speaking of Ford) written on a wall next to town hall along with other slander. I wonder who is the hypocrite here when a lot of professionals, from garbage men up to lawyers and judges all over the country who consume illegal and legal drugs on regular basis and admit it as there was no issue. Hey, even our ex prime minister Chrétien admitted of smoking marijuana before AND told the public that when he stepped down from office he would roll up a fatty and smoke it with one hand and hold up the fine money in the other, this was filmed nonetheless, on purpose! Why didn’t he get heat for this? Maybe it has to do with him being in the Desmarais family?…. It’s obvious that someone is holding a grudge against Rob Ford because now we have alleged drinking and driving mixed up with hanging around a prostitute. Anyways back to the drug story. What’s the problem? EVERYBODY DOES IT at one point in time and if you did not yet, well you should try it before bashing it, then you will see that it isn’t so ”bad” after all. What i’m trying to say is that a lot of ”legal” drugs are more dangerous and create a stronger dependency than many if not all ”illegal” drugs, and yet the ”legal” drugs are sold by the tons……and they have taxes attached to them….so who is the hypocrite?

    • Well said!!! The stench of liberal hypocrisy is huge in this case. If you ever did an illegal drug even once, I think that eliminates you from criticizing others who do the same. We can only imagine how many Ford critics have done drugs in the past or recently. And you are on to something when you say that someone holds a grudge against Ford. As a local I’m happy to explain.

      Ford was elected mayor (to the complete shock of the left) after representing an outlying borough of Toronto. I say outlying because several years ago the various boroughs of Toronto were forced to amalgamate. For taxpayers it meant embarking on the road to fewer bureaucrats and duplication of government paper pushers.

      To the left in Toronto politics, it meant fewer unionized workers, political clout, and a serious blow to the gravy train. (our governments are far more unionized than the private sector; no surprise there).

      I can’t believe some of the comments and public statements these days. Oooh, he did something millions have done!!! The key is that his personal foibles are merely a smokescreen for the left’s desire to see him gone. They wanted him gone the day after he was elected. The fact is that any liberal, free-spending poltico who did this would not be attacked as Ford has.