Rob Ford: Mayor and one-man resistance movement -

Rob Ford: Mayor and one-man resistance movement

Ivor Tossell on the Knight Who Says No


Chris Young/CP

There exists a funny notion outside Toronto that Mayor Rob Ford is somehow in charge of the city. It’s a reasonable misunderstanding, what with the word “mayor,” the chains of office and the legal expectation that he lead the city and whatnot. Occasionally though he uses his last shreds of power to grab an agenda item and toddle off, though it never lasts long.

Take, for instance, his obstruction on the subject of paying to build public transportation. After decades of gridlocked inaction, Toronto and the municipalities that surround it are teetering on the brink of joining the 21st century, though not if Rob Ford can help it.

The province has wisely seized control of the process, through Metrolinx, its regional transit agency. But individual municipalities still need to buy in, and the time to do so is now. The province intends to impose levies on the gridlocked region to pay for it, and it’s expecting feedback from its cities next month.

Toronto is just one municipality among many, but it sits like a gorilla at the centre of the region, and it’s hard to do anything without it. The city has been trying to buy in — it really has. Its bureaucracy has run in-person and online consultations, up and down town. Its city councillors have been broadly supportive, even as they squabble about which subway line to build where.

Everyone except Rob Ford, the Knight Who Says No.

What has Rob Ford said? Well, last month he was asked about transit taxes and, by way of critique, made retching sounds. This week, he pronounced, “Guaranteed, hell will freeze over before I support any new taxes.”

With that, he took a stab at scuttling the region’s transit plans. At a meeting of his handpicked inner circle – only a handful of whom will still follow him – he dredged up the six votes needed to defer the debate of these taxes for a month. That happens to be just long enough to blow the province’s deadline for hearing from cities, derailing the process for 5 million people.

Now, one could reasonably ask if the Metrolinx plan is best. One could ask if it’s too ambitious, or – more likely – not ambitious enough; whether these taxes tax the right people and raise money the right way; whether it will pay for operating the transit once it’s built; whether building transit alone will reshape the region. Rob Ford made retching noises and tried to sabotage the whole thing.

So once again, the adult supervision on council is heaving a sigh, and going to retrieve this issue from the mayor who’s wandered off. Already, Gary Crawford, yet another staunch ally in Ford’s inner circle, announced he regretted his (deciding) vote to defer the debate. It looks like city council will use a supermajority to override that decision and hold the debate on revenue tools, sidelining Ford yet again and putting things back on track.

Bully for Ford, I suppose: He was elected on a Tea Party platform of opposing taxation for the sake of opposing taxation. He has remained remarkably oblivious to the evidence that neither the majority of citizens nor politicians are on board with this; a resilience that has cost him his power and his allies. It is no longer uncommon for him to lose votes by a margin of 40-1, as he did last month when he stood up against opening more shelter beds for the homeless. He’s gone from an unstoppable force, to the leader of a rump faction, to a one-man resistance movement against the government he’s supposed to be leading.

Ford and his advisers are openly relishing this opportunity to take a futile anti-tax stand before the electorate. Election-time is coming, and this is how it will be fought. Three years ago, disenfranchised citizens got mad as hell and sent a disenfranchised councillor to the mayor’s office, from which he promptly disenfranchised himself, too. What a remarkable form of government! The leader of government leads the opposition, kicking and screaming as governance happens all around him, a voice in the wilderness of the mayor’s office, saying no.



Rob Ford: Mayor and one-man resistance movement

  1. I didn’t have any special knowledge during the last municipal election, and I know many people who voted for him. What never ceases to amaze me is how so many Torontonians could not see that this man would be an incompetent embarassment. What the hell were they thinking? I mean the blame rests squarely with Ford for his childish stubbornness in the face of all that is required to be a mayor of Toronto, but at least I understand why he behaves this way. He’s an entilted man-child who rode daddy’s millions and conservative connections to public office. What I don’t understand is how so many voters wanted this fool to represent our city.

    • ‘How Rob Ford won Toronto’ The inside story of the most implausible mayoral victory in Canadian history. By Nicholas Kohler: Macleans Oct. 29,2010

    • No one in Toronto voted for him….all GTA voters.

      • That is impossible… unless you are still living in the world of last-century, pre-amalgamation boundaries

      • Your comment doesn’t make sense. The majority of the GTA can’t vote in Toronto elections. If you mean the pre-amalgamated City of Toronto, then yes, he wasn’t the top choice, but still had significant support.

  2. He was a fool while he was a councillor and he is a fool as mayor.

    • The Prince of Putzillvania

  3. perhaps someone could find a nice shrubbery,not too tall mind you, for this moronic Knight that says NI and that may be enough to distract him for the rest of the term!

  4. of course Ford will lose the election, but to show the world and country that we are sane and mature we all need to be vocal, get out the vote, and keep Ford’s percentage under 20 [the crazies add up to that much, unfortunately].

    • at least! isn’t his approval rating like 40% or something? still nothing to be proud of but FFS, 40%???!!?! 4 out of 10 think he’s doing a good job? Seriously??! Jeebus.

      • 39.6% that’s down from the 47.2% of the vote which he received in the 2010 mayoral race when David Miller announced that he would not seek re election. That’s the same percentage that Stephen Harper’s Conservatives achieved in the 2011 federal election. This means by your logic that 60.4 % of the people have no use whatever for the snake oil that he and his brother Doug are peddling. That’s a pretty significant number.

        • fair enough. I’m just sayin’ that to even have 2 out of 5 people “approve” of his job is mind-boggling.

        • Who’s Randy?

          • Made the change. Thanks for the heads up.

          • The third brother. Google “Randy, Rob, Doug Ford” – take a gravol first, though.

      • An approval rating isn’t the same thing as “would you vote for him again” for the record.

        • right, I know. I’m just talking purely about his higher-than-I-can-believe approval rating. I still think Ford’s gonna tank pretty hard at the polls next time.

    • I hope you are right, but Lastman got a second term.

  5. Greatest mayor ever, by far. At every turn he fights new taxes, he fights old taxes, he fights current spending, he fights new spending… and he never ever backs down.

    And with this illegitimate current provincial government trying to stack even more taxes on us, I’m glad we have a respectable man like Ford who stands in their way. We can’t afford another $50-billion and I’ll be damned if it’s this current provincial government that actually overlooks that kind of spending again.

    Here’s to Ford being mayor, and here’s to Hudak finally becoming premier to save this province from the most corrupt provincial government we’ve ever known!

    • What planet are you on?

      • The same one that elected Ford and the same one that’s going to elect him again.

        Get used to it now and it’ll hurt less later after his re-election, I promise you.

        • Yes, well you can dream.

        • He has embarrassed you enough yet I guess 27, as mayor of our city?? He’s constantly making an a$$ out of himself….

    • Ya, 27, except that cutting the VRT (his only tax cutting success so far) meant that TTC transit monthly pass holders had to pay an extra $60 a year more, so take that, poor people! Otherwise, my taxes have not decreased, in spite of a partial privatization of my garbage pickup and whatever else he’s done (getting Hero Burger into Nathan Phillips Square?!). Further, he’s wasted millions due to inaction (Gardiner study) and vengeful behaviour (Jarvis bikelanes, firing Gary Webster). Magically getting the private sector to pony up the cash for his Sheppard subway worked like a charm, too. Not sure what your solution would be. The residents of many US cities (even those that are more right wing than you sound) have approved of a small sales tax increase to fund improved transit. Ford’s sticking his head in the sand in pathetic.

      • What a concept, paying for what you use! Welcome to the real world!

        • Except drivers don’t pay for what they use in terms of construction and maintenance (yes, in spite of gas taxes) – look it up (it’s around 30%)! And transit users in Toronto are paying about 70% of the cost of the service…far higher than in any US city. Further, and get this: by having people use transit, you as a driver benefit, because there are fewer cars on the road. This is the concept of a common good, i.e. something everyone benefits from.

        • Just to follow up Nick’s comment, there is also the fact that traffic congestion is costing $6 billion a year in economic productivity. Solving the transit problem in Toronto would help everyone – not just transit users, so maybe it makes sense for everyone to pay for it.

        • Assuming you are a driver, you will no problem then having a massive tarrif slapped on your vehicle because that’s what you just agreed to above.

        • Yeah, what a concept 27! You want a subway, you have to pay for it. Just like a road, which you aren’t completely paying for. What part of this confuses you?

      • Oh Nick, trying to argue “facts” and “reality” with Fordites is not unlike trying to convince diarrhea to stick to a wall (no offense to any excrement out there!)

    • In what way is the provincial government “illegitimate”?

      • In the way that anyone and anything that is in any way critical or opposed to Ford or his “ideas” is illegitimate.

    • all right, way to turn a municipal issue into a provincial one! You win one internet!

      also curious to know how this current provincial government is ‘illegitimate’, having won the provincial election and all (for the third time in a row). Do you have some info proving the Liberals (a.k.a. LIE-berals, LOL! omg) only won because they were up to some shady doin’s? DUDE YOU SHOULD SAY SOMETHING

      • If you want to argue about how they’re technically legitimate that’s fine. But they’ve proven to be both so incompetent and corrupt that truthfully they are simply unfit to govern.

        • listen up champ, they’re not “technically legitimate” as you suggest. They are FULLY legitimate, having won the election. Don’t try to move the goalposts in your argument. Competency, or lack thereof, does not have anything to do with legitimacy. Your argument is invalid.

        • Oh, if only incompetence made someone illegitimate to govern…

    • “Greatest mayor ever, by far. At every turn he fights new taxes, he fights old taxes, he fights current spending, he fights new spending… and he never ever backs down.”

      Couldn’t agree more: Ford never backs down or surrenders.

      As for Hudak? Guy’s a tool, we need a Mike Harris to save Ontario.

      • What choice do we have at this point? Democracy can be limiting at times.

        • I’m all for democracy, however the left would much prefer eliminating that concept and simply ‘forcing’ their garbage onto the rest of us.

          Leftists are always the first to demand a new ‘law’ over human thought.

          Hudak was sky high in the polls/had the election pretty much wrapped in…everyone wanted McGuinty to go: Yet Hudak screwed it beyond all comprehension.

          Hudak is like John Tory: Can’t get elected squat and is a guarantee over Liberal/NDP winning the next provincial election.

          Why do you think the leftist media keeps going on/and/on over Tory being an ‘honourable conservative’? Simple: TORY SUCKS

          Ontario desperately needs a Mike Harris to return and pull this province out of the morass it’s sliding into.

      • the guy has Backbone, wish we had that in Ottawa city

    • every unionized person is against R.F., because he is against the Fat Cats, of this province, that’s the only reason

    • Best laugh I’ve had all morning!!!!

    • There is one problem though to Rob Ford’s rhetoric. In 2012, Rob Ford wrote an article that the Globe and Mail published. In it, Rob Ford made his case for parking levies and development charges to try to find a Sheppard subway extension.

      Rob Ford is seeking a legacy project to put his name behind.

  6. I’m so ashamed to be from Etobicoke. His folk hero status just blows my mind – for them, he can do no wrong. It’s like watching the parents of a bully justifying the behaviour of their poor and misunderstood son. The everyman? Good grief – this imbecile has been spoiled and pampered his entire life. Talk to people who grew up with him. Have any of his die hard supporters ever seen his resume? Name a single occupational position that he obtained/achieved through his own merit that was not arranged by his powerful family connections. I doubt he has even once sat for an interview for a job, this prince of fools. Seriously (and by that, i mean jokingly) – Can someone please check the water filtration for Etobicoke? I think General Turgidson was onto something with his suspicion of fluoridation. How else can you explain the sheer stupidity and denial that comes from our citizenry?

    • Hey Etobicoke is a big place. Don’t blame those of us in the south, we elected Grimes. Oh wait ….


    We are damned lucky to have Ford as mayor. He’s not sending this city up the river like a lot of other cities Mayors would…Toronto’s cops are being paid, trash is being picked up, we’re not on some Greece like “Austerity Mode”.

    Ford as well as anyone who is honest with themselves knows this: Not one single tax/’revenue tool’ government has ever enacted, strayed true to the goal and ‘sunset’ itself.

    It’s a SHELL GAME, and everyone knows it: You enact some ‘transit tax’ and
    suddenly countless millions will suddenly disappear towards pretty much anything BUT transit! Politicians will blame one another, and there will be the usual theatre of ‘investigations’…however in the end:

    Nobody will be held accountable and taxpayers will end up paying the bill.

    Not on Ford’s watch…and we all can sleep easier knowing that someone is keeping an eye on City Council.

    • AHAHHAAHAHAH that was hilarious made my day thanks again!

    • And walking to work, because the transit solution could not be paid for, because of Ford.

      • I hope most of you realize that every other place in Ontario, maybe even Canada laughs at Toronto and its clown mayor. We are amazed when ANYTHING gets done in Toronto.

        • And thanks to Jimmy Kimmel, American late night viewers also have had a chance to enjoy the clown mayor!

    • Only it is not case closed. There’s a huge issue staring us in the face and some are refusing to disclose what the cost of doing nothing would be. Because that’s what you seem to be proposing. Instead of being absolutely pessimistic beyond belief about any legislation ever, why not advocate for water-tight legislation that backs sensible revenue tools that can only legally go toward transit infrastructure?

  8. Anyone who still supports Mr Ford with a terrible record of his, really needs to see a psychologist.
    We dont want clueless and uninformed voters from spoiling the democratic process.

  9. Ford says no to tax increases for valuable, needed city services, because he’s “for the taxpayers”, yet he wants a casino so he can snatch the taxpayers’ last dollar put into a roulette wheel or poker table? Of course there’s “responsible” gambling, but if casinos banked on responsible gamblers, there’d be no casinos anywhere in the world.

  10. rob ford is a moron, and anybody who voted for him is a moron.

  11. I hope Rob Ford does not keel over and have a heart attack.
    We still need Papa Harper’s Fourth Term.

      • Stephen Harper is the Prime Minister of Canada.
        Obviously Cristy-Jane Byrom’s idea of the rational argument in favour of the exact distinction between scientific and non scientific historiography is defective.

  12. NO MORE TAXES. Government wants – Government builds! Cut your perks and benefits and there will be money. STOP squeezing people!!

  13. One big problem I have with Rob Ford is that he has no vision for the city. What kind of city does Rob Ford want?

    In the next municipal election, I do think that someone in the centre or right will challenge him on having a good vision and fiscal management of Toronto.

  14. Who is bashing Ford now. Yawn

  15. Of course Rob is a one man no machine, he lacks the intelligence and imagination to figure out how to say yes. Yes demands engagement. Yes demands vision. Yes demands passion. Non of which describes Ford’s talents.

  16. I only wish Canada had such checks and balances at the federal level. Harper & his cronies are the Rob Fords of Canada & would be spluttering around like him.

  17. Ford is the best thing to happen to Toronto as evidenced by how much he annoys all the right people.

  18. You might have it bad in Toronto but Hamilton’s mayor takes the title for incompetence!

  19. Not sure why so many people heap on RoDoFo for not following through on promises. I happen to know that a number of Subways have opened since it was elected in 2010. In fact, another new one is about to open just across the street from me next month. Delicious! And gravy-free.

  20. Worst mayor since Jerry Springer. And that’s saying something.