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The political genius of Rob Ford

How a crass, hot-tempered straight-talker ran the most sophisticated campaign Toronto has ever seen


 
The political genius of Rob Ford

Photographs by Donald Weber

Originally published on Oct. 12, 2010

Rob Ford leans back in the nook of his Rob-Ford-for-mayor RV and, sphinx-like, fixes his gaze on something at the far end of the universe. He is just back from a fundraiser at the Mandarin buffet, in uptown Toronto, where members of the local Chinese communities feted his coming victory over the forces of “waste” and “socialism” at city hall. (Ford passed on the chicken balls and deep-fried shrimp, dining instead on roast beef and mashed potatoes.) In a couple of hours he will square off against his opponents in a Citytv debate—a perhaps anxious prospect given that Ford, according to polls the front-runner, will be an even larger target than usual. Now, in the dark calm of the RV, he is ruddy-faced, disengaged, not altogether present. Is he gathering himself for the coming TV battle against George Smitherman, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty’s one-time pit bull and Ford’s closest rival? No, he says in a small voice. “I’m just digesting my food. That’s a lot I ate.”

However improbable it may seem to Toronto’s elites and the reporters who cover local politics, Ford has good reason to expect that Oct. 25 will make him mayor. Polls have him as far as 24 points ahead of Smitherman, whose victory in January seemed a foregone conclusion. (“In the absence of an incumbent, they made me the incumbent,” Smitherman told Maclean’s.) If Ford does win, it will be in spite of a history of almost Borat-sized faux pas and brushes with the law, including a 1999 Florida drunk-driving conviction that first came to light in August. “We all make mistakes,” says Ford, still in the midst of digestion. “It was bad. I was drinking and driving. But a lot of people drink and drive. I got caught.”

His campaign has combined a reckless use of facts—Ford repeats figures again and again that either do not bear scrutiny or are yanked badly out of context—with a message track that even Smitherman admits he’s followed “with a level of discipline that is admirable.” He will put an end to wasteful spending, eliminate government perks, cut taxes and reduce the size of city government—including halving the number of councillors from 44 to 22 and outsourcing garbage collection. He will do all this at the same time as he builds a new subway line. “People do not want streetcars in this city—they want subways,” Ford likes to say, his expression that of a man who has just taken a sip of sour milk. “If you get behind a streetcar—you’re stuck! Enough with the streetcars!”

Ford will, to sum up, “stop the gravy train”—a phrase the allegedly buffoonish former city councillor allegedly vetted with focus groups for maximum effect. Unlikely as it is that a Mayor Ford could ever live up to it, his pledge to return phone calls from Torontonians in need also resonates. “That is the most powerful thing he’s ever said,” remarks a strategist with a rival camp who is visibly pained by his own admiration for the Ford campaign, which he calls one of the most sophisticated ever seen in a Toronto mayoral race—largely due to its use of cheap but highly effective telephone-based voter-identification techniques.

The question of which political puppet master pulled Ford out of the chasm of his past—the joint that Florida police discovered in his back pocket, an assault charge involving his wife Renata, etc., etc. (both charges were later dropped)—and successfully moulded him into a bankable candidate is now a favourite Toronto parlour game. It is Ford’s image that turns his detractors off: he is enormous, uncultured, uncouth and déclassé, a high school football coach who presents more like a schoolyard bully. He sweats. His encounter with former Globe and Mail city hall columnist John Barber, in which Barber apparently calls Ford a “fat f–k” and Ford retaliates with all the high-pitched nasal intensity of an Anglo-Saxon Joe Pesci, has become the stuff of YouTube legend. How, people ask, is this guy the next mayor of Toronto?

Rival camps, where the city’s top political operatives have congealed around more traditional candidates, speak of mysterious Chicago-based Republican consultants, connections with U.S. Tea Party organizers—anything to soften the blow. Those nefarious forces are easier on the ego than what’s apparently the truth: that Ford’s campaign is being run by his brother Doug, Jr., an older, leaner, more polished version of Rob and a candidate for council in his kid brother’s old ward. Or, worse still, that Ford himself, in his bad suits and crude English, has somehow had a hand in transforming himself into a political force. His campaign has worked so well because, whether or not his platform makes sense, his message is clear. It combines anger over minor aggravations like bike lanes and speed bumps with big, simple populist promises: councillors should pay their own way and the city should focus on filling potholes and collecting garbage, leaving the vision thing—outgoing Mayor David Miller’s thing—out.

Ford, meanwhile, has apparently worked tirelessly in the decade since he became a councillor. Though his campaign handlers recognize how unlikely it sounds, they repeat the claim he’s returned 200,000 calls over the past decade, and say Ford stored away those names and numbers in bankers’ boxes. “I’ve seen them,” says Fraser Macdonald, at 24 years old Ford’s deputy communications director. Hand-scrawled on scraps, the backs of envelopes and napkins, those names became the Ford campaign’s nascent database. No wonder that in March, when he launched his campaign, 1,600 supporters turned out. “It came from out of the blue but it came early,” says Smitherman of Ford’s support. “He’s obviously had a strong base right from the get-go.”

Some attribute Ford’s appeal to Tea Party sympathies this side of the Great Lakes, others to recession, others still to Miller’s impotent handling of last year’s garbage strike, in which he is widely believed to have capitulated to a coddled union. Unifying these theories is a sense that city hall has favoured downtown sophisticates over the hoi polloi—a sense that runs particularly deep in largely working-class inner suburbs like Ford’s own west-end Etobicoke stomping grounds.

Taxes have risen: a four per cent property-tax hike last year, new land-transfer and car-registration dues, and such annoying fees as the $133 it costs to buy a new medium garbage bin. Municipal services, meanwhile, appear diminished, particularly for suburbanites who contend the downtown benefits disproportionately from city largesse. For Toronto’s angry motorists, taxpayers, streetcar-abstainers and non-cyclists, Ford’s outward lack of charm is a sort of political catnip—crazy-making but irresistible. “I want change badly, and Ford represents that,” says Patrick Maguire, a 44-year-old teacher who lives in Toronto’s reputedly granola Roncesvalles neighbourhood. “The fact that he scares people is a good thing.”

The interminable road works, endless traffic, plans for an $88-million multi-level hockey arena on Toronto’s waterfront—all of it skews the race toward Ford. “It doesn’t matter what the polls say, quite frankly,” one Toronto councillor who asked for anonymity argued. “If the suburbs come out like they did in 1997 to elect Mel Lastman—and they have not come out since—that’s going to deliver Rob Ford Toronto.” Even something as innocuous as the bicycle has become a kind of subliminal flashpoint. “I think the sense that the current government is anti-roads and cars is what is causing it to seem anti-the-ordinary-person,” says University of Toronto historian Michael Bliss. “The ordinary person in Toronto doesn’t ride a bicycle. And that’s important. The ordinary person drives a car.”

And so it may come as a shock to federal Conservative House leader John Baird that the “Toronto elites” he blames for the long-gun registry may soon see an anti-elitist elected their mayor—one who says charity marathons snarl traffic, so hold them elsewhere; that cyclists can stay safe by staying off the roads; that “Oriental people work like dogs” (“I say that too,” Harry Tsai, of the Taiwanese Canadian Association of Toronto, told Maclean’s amid the pink paper lanterns of the Mandarin buffet); a candidate who says he’s returned 200,000 phone calls in the 10 years he represented Etobicoke North as councillor, but who had only just begun carrying a BlackBerry.

Still, Ford’s is a meagre vision for the city. Asked how he sees Toronto in five years, when it is to host the 2015 Pan Am Games, he replies without hesitation: “The city will be spotless. We’re going to make sure it’s clean. And it’s going to be safe. And we’re going to make sure the city’s—um—Toronto’s going to be on the map by the time the Pan Am Games get here, that’s for sure.” It is sometimes unclear whether Ford actually likes Toronto. How would he describe it to people he might meet overseas—in Vienna, in Paris or Buenos Aires? “I wouldn’t tell them to come now,” Ford answers. “But I’d say in a year or two—come, enjoy.

Because right now I can’t say I’m really proud being part of council in Toronto, with all the money being spent and the high taxes. It’s just a dirty city. I sort of feel embarrassed. Maybe I’m a perfectionist. But I don’t like all the graffiti. The dirt. The long grass and weeds. And all that sort of stuff. I hate that stuff. And I know I’m going to get it all cleaned up when I’m mayor.”

Rob Ford runs a meaty hand over the sparse island of hair atop his head, yanks at his collar, tilts his chin up to expose the fleshy skin of his throat, then collects his face in his fingers. He is a collection of ticks. During debates, as his rivals tear one into the other, he stares stony-faced into space or squints into the audience as though into the sun. Often, and especially when attacked, he contemplates the ceiling, his thick fingers interlaced over his great belly, and grins—as his right-of-centre opponent Rocco Rossi put it during one debate, “sitting back like the Cheshire Cat.”

Ford has the physique of the over-the-hill football player he actually is, the spastic physicality of a Jackie Gleason, and a weakness for soft drinks. At a recent debate at York University, as left-leaning candidate and former Miller deputy Joe Pantalone outlined a policy position, Ford stepped away from his podium and strolled up-stage, where Mark Towhey, a Ford policy adviser, appeared on stage to hand him a bottle of Mug Root Beer. When Ford returned and loosened the cap, the bottle foamed and bubbled madly (Ford frowned and dabbed at the bottle with a napkin). “They’re running him on political Prozac,” says Coun. Brian Ashton, who recalls watching Ford during another debate, in Scarborough: “He sat there and he was literally picking the cuticles on his fingernails—to the point one started to bleed. And he was dabbing away the blood. And I thought, ‘Is this what they’ve got him doing? Stay focused, don’t get engaged, don’t lose your temper, stay on message.’ ”

At another debate focused on arts funding, at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Ford arrived five minutes late and pulled a huge white kerchief from his jacket, mopping his brow. He got laughs when in his opening statement he recalled his short-lived theatre career as a tights-wearing actor in a Grade 13 production of “The Princess and the Pea.” When the audience began hissing, the moderator stepped in to soothe the crowd. “I respect that you’re here,” he told Ford, who despite the hammering remained the most composed of the four candidates and left the barb-throwing to Pantalone, Rossi and Smitherman. “I’m not worried about what my opponents are doing or what they’re saying,” Ford tells Maclean’s. “I’m just focused on my message and making sure I deliver the message as directly as possible.”

That message is unchanging and concrete. When Toronto Star municipal affairs columnist Royson James, a frequent debate panellist, asked Ford about his governance vision for Toronto, Ford launched into a long dissertation on the humble speed bump (his antagonism toward the speed bump is well known: in 2007, Ford went as far as to say they “indirectly kill people” by reducing emergency response times). “I admit I’m not a smooth talker, a polished speaker,” he says. “But a lot of people like that. They see you’re just a normal person. I speak in layman’s terms, I speak in terms that people can understand, and answer the question as directly as I can.” Asked about Smitherman’s debate performance, he says: “He talks and talks and talks but I try and follow him and I just can’t follow him. I can’t make heads or tails what he says sometimes. As soon as you’re a smooth talker, something’s fishy. A lot of people told me.”

Sleek is the antithesis of the Ford campaign. A YouTube video released late last month outlining Ford’s financial plan contained the candidate’s strangely halting monotone, odd jump cuts, and a soundtrack reminiscent of the music SCTV once favoured in its parodies of TV kitsch. As Rossi has it in a line that he’s made part of his debate repertoire, the clip “makes Mr. [Stéphane] Dion’s videographer look like a genius.” Such criticism only seems to endear Ford further to his supporters. “When you insult him, you insult us, as far as I’m concerned,” Jeff Green, a 43-year-old camera operator who is between jobs, told Maclean’s before a debate in North York. “I’ll tell you right now, I’m voting for Rob Ford.”

Like many of his supporters, Green says he backs the former councillor because Ford once returned his call, then guided him through an arcane procedure at city hall—even though Green lives outside his ward. That reputation for customer service has delivered Ford some unlikely allies. Last spring, Peter Genest, owner of Hits and Misses, a punk record shop on the western edge of downtown Toronto, wanted to ask his councillor—Pantalone, as it happens—about a $555 licence he’d been required to buy to deal in second-hand goods.

Genest says Pantalone’s office sat on his query for over a month. When the Toronto Star published a story on Genest’s gripe, the reporter quoted Ford condemning the fee: “If they want to put people out of work it’s a good way of doing it.” Ford followed up with an email and a call to Genest offering further help. Not long ago, Genest took him up on that offer, and says Ford’s office got back to him the next day with a useful contact. “I don’t agree with everything he says,” Genest admits. “But I’ve only lived back in Toronto for 3½ years and his office has helped me out twice.”

Should Ford become Toronto’s mayor, it will be a win foreseen by his father, Doug Sr., a self-made businessman, backbencher in the Mike Harris Tories, and a towering figure in his son’s imagination. “Before he passed away in 2006, he knew I was going to be mayor,” recalls Ford. “He said, ‘You’re what people want.’ ” Doug Ford grew up on the Danforth—then a tough Toronto neighbourhood—without a dad, the youngest of 10 children. He later made his fortune with the Deco Labels & Tags company, which Ford and his two brothers now run. “He had a drive,” says Ford. “He had a desire that he wanted to be successful, nothing was going to stop him.”

That drive is now shared by Rob and Doug Ford, who at the Mandarin buffet fundraiser sit side by side. Left briefly alone, hovering above their plates, they confer in low voices with an almost telepathic sibling ease, never once turning to look at each other. They have gathered into their campaign team an equally conspiratorial group of outsiders, many of them new to the Toronto scene. One, Nick Kouvalis, who lives in Windsor, Ont., and who once led a populist rebellion within the Ontario Progressive Conservatives against John Tory’s leadership, runs the day-to-day operations, and has introduced for the first time in a Toronto mayoral race a technique borrowed from Barack Obama: the so-called “telephone town hall,” which sees a tranche of Toronto blanketed with calls inviting residents to participate in a phone meeting hosted by Ford, who discusses hot-button issues and takes questions; he eventually asks participants to indicate whether they plan to support him by punching a button. The calls have formed the basis of the campaign’s ever-growing database—and of Ford’s state-of-the-art campaign. His rivals have only just begun catching up to the technique.

Ford lumbers back to the table, settles in next to his brother and attacks another plate from the buffet. Watching him, slow moving and barely communicating with his hosts from Toronto’s Chinese communities, it’s still hard to believe his is the campaign to beat. Suddenly, a section of the group stands to say its goodbyes. Doug Ford stands too, but his brother the mayoral candidate keeps eating. Doug jabs him with a thick finger. “Rob! Rob!” he says. “Say goodbye!” And Rob Ford looks up from his plate.


 

The political genius of Rob Ford

  1. Wow, I don't live anywhere near Toronto, but why on earth would anyone want this massive crass bully as mayor of a major city?

    Are Canadians really buying into bully mentality these days? I want my kinder, gentler Canada back.

    The video where he harasses that reporter for calling him a "fat f*ck" is just scary — not to defend the reporter, but the way he is followed, blocked and harrassed is just wrong. What does this guy bring that makes him so popular?

    • I noticed in that video that Ford only became more brazen AFTER his friend entered into the fray. On his own he sounded like a wounded, scowling little animal after being questioned, but with moral support he suddenly rose up. With backing, he became more brave – lol

      The people of Toronto are going to have to get used to cringing – like when Lastman used to speak or Bush. It'll be fun to watch! I can hardly wait. Hahaha Maybe we'll get some Ford-isms out of it.

    • We dont want any more left wing idiots telling us whats correct. Love this comment bellow we dont want any dirty granola left wing hippies with hairy arm pits, they must get the eff back into their kennels You Patchouli are very misguided if you want Anyonebut Ford

    • Yet you find nothing wrong with the reporter calling someone FAT F***? Is that what kinder and gentler Canada means to you?

      • Can you read? He said "not to defend the reporter…". What do you expect, long detailed explanations about exactly how wrong each guy is?

    • What does this guy bring that makes him so popular?

      Common Sense!

      • He's great. After Miler time day in, day out.Its great to see Ford , hes a complete change

    • Honesty.

    • The "crass bully" in all this has been the left wing scum that social engineer EVERYTHING. I love Ford … what a breath of fresh air. Like the article says … here's someone in the trenches helping at risk youth … not just talking about it. What a swell guy.

  2. What does having a certain brand of phone (blackberry) do with answering phone calls in general?

  3. Amateur: Reminds me of how the Feds operate. Same style.

    • How the Feds operate? You mean a financial system that's the envy of the industrialized world you smug a-hole?

  4. I'm in my mid-40's amd have lived in Toronto for all of them….what this election has done is alienate me from my city and my neighbours. Too sad.

    • Poor you. Boo Hoo.

      • Hilarious … totally agree.

    • What a silly comment. If George Smitherman or Rocco Rossi gets elected it will alienate a lot of other people who didn't vote for them. Fortunately in our society whether Rob Ford or George Smitherman gets elected we will get decent government – unlike many places in the rest of the world. Toronto will continue to exist, it will be more or less the same as now. Don't panic.

      • …be happy

    • thx mikey

    • u2 atila

  5. Even with all the checks and balances in our political system; centered on peace, order and good government; we are not immune to populism; those who would lead with fear, conflict and non governance.

    I hope an appeal to our better angels will triumph in the end.

  6. I have known about Rob Ford and his willingness to help people even outside his ward prior to his run for mayor. The Genest/Pantalone/Ford story in this article certainly resonates with me and explains partly people's affinity towards his candidacy.

  7. I don't plan on voting for Rob Ford – too much baggage, and not someone who I believe can deliver on many of his promises.

    However there are several aspects that resonate with Torontonians, even elitists like me. We drive – this is a fact – and until subways are built, we will continue to do so. I am a cyclist too, but there are way more cars. Charity races should take place; they need not occur on the busiest streets in the city every other weekend.

    I am tired of out of control spending and tax increases as a given. I am tired of a municipal government that tries to micromanage the lives of its citizens – it's my driveway, let me park whatever I want in it.

    I am tired of a government who doesn't realize their number one job is to make living in my city as easy and as pleasant as possible while being very cautious about how they spend my money.

    So Ford may be a blowhard, and I don't trust him to deliver…but many of his messages are spot on.

    • "I am tired of a government who doesn't realize their number one job is to make living in my city as easy and as pleasant as possible while being very cautious about how they spend my money. "

      I find that a very sad description of government, regardless of whether you support more interventionist policies or more libertarian, smaller-govt-type policies. I disagree that this is their number one job. Yes, those are goals that should be on their list, but number one? Really?

        • Governments exist to provide the population with services that cannot be more effectively delivered by the market (policing, national defense are examples). Some believe government also exists to help citizens improve themselves / their lot in life / overall GDP / safety / whatever. The lists can be gigantic.

          My description of my municipal government's "number one job" would be something like: make the city function as effectively as is possible, and as efficiently as is reasonable, without wasting too many dollars [impossible to waste zero] or leaving residents behind who need some assistance.

          That's a messy first draft. But my point is: I don't think govt's job is to make living somewhere easy, or pleasant. Caution is a very good objective. Betterment of the city (in all aspects) is another good objective. Pretending the city is smaller than it actually is is a poor approach and leads to deteriorating conditions for all.

          • Ah, a very nice debate indeed! My 'easy and pleasant' is akin to your 'effective and efficient'. Don't misconstrue that as crazy-libertarian. Our current municipal government in Toronto is too focused on engineering a version of utopia that ignores the practical realities of how many Torontonians live, and focuses on solving grand sweeping societal (perceived) problems at the expense of making the city function efficiently and effectively.

            In short: Toronto City Council — spend less time regulating the size/shape/price/supply of food vendor carts and more time synching up the GD traffic lights on University Avenue! Spend less time building bike lanes to nowhere and more time linking the existing bike lanes to form a network. Etc.

          • I agree with your first paragraph, and the food cart insanity. But "bike lanes to nowhere" ? Oh look, it's a Rob Ford talking point. And a lie. All the cyclists on Jarvis (where the talking point is usually targeted) are going somewhere, and coming from somewhere, and the bike lane crosses a couple others.

            The case against city council's behaviour can be won easily on facts, no need for Ford to make stuff up.

          • The Jarvis bike lanes made no sense…there are bike lanes running down Sherbourne the next street over — that connect with the Dundas bike lines (that abruptly stop in the middle of the city but that's a different issue).

            There is a bike line on Eastern Avenue that runs from Broadview to Leslie – they eliminated two lanes to put it in….it is about 2 km long, is not connected to any other bike lane, and runs parallel (about 100 metres away) to the lakeshore paved bike path that connects to the Queen's Quay bike lane, the West end lakeshore paved bike path and the network of paved bike paths that run through the Don Valley.

            Both the Eastern and Jarvis bike lanes snarl traffic while doing very little to effecitvely and efficiently make the city more cyclist friendly. Ford was wrong about the budget of the Jarvis lanes no question — and I think his overall position on cyclists is wrong too — but under the current government bike lanes are built without an intelligent plan, and without optimizing both cyclist and motor vehicle safety and traffic flow.

          • "snarl traffic" – evidence please? I travel Jarvis regularly, and see no snarling of any difference than what was there. To be honest, the case can be made that the bike lanes make it better not because of the bike lanes, but because Jarvis stops changing its number of lanes. Less merging = less abrupt stops and slowdowns, generally speaking.

            Agreed that a coherent plan is required, and optimizing safety (say, with separated bike lanes on University where there's space for them?) is a good thing.

          • My route tends to be more on Eastern Avenue admittedly and I use Jarvis much less frequently so I'll rescind my comment re. Jarvis and traffic…the reading I did on Jarvis and traffic problems was from the early days of the change.

            On Eastern though, what used to be a breeze during rush hour is now a crawl…with the sight of a cyclist in the bike lane a rare occurence!

          • I'm hoping that the inevitable razing of the eastern end of the Gardiner (since the costs are huge to rebuild, the traffic still light compared to current size, I call this inevitable even if delayed) includes a cleanup of the confusing, twisty, and unbalanced Eastern/Lakeshore/Queen/Broadview area.

            Re: Jarvis, I was expecting to hear more once school started up again, since the change started in the summer. But the silence of all the complainers (except for those running for office on a fabricated premise) is deafening. :-)

          • Indeed!

          • I completely agree with you YYZ; that lane on Eastern is a prime example of the inanity of our current City Hall regime. The 143 Express Bus now has to sit in interminable traffic jams – which kind of defeats the purpose. According to the TTC trip planner the 143 now only shaves 6 minutes off the commute time of the 501 (which I doubt) – hardly worth the double fare.

            Even worse, once we get the 204 streetcar trips from the Ashbridges Bay LRV facility crossing all three major east/west thoroughfares we may as well just stop trying to commute downtown from the Beaches. Btw, Rob Ford was the only mayoral candidate to show up at the AB TTC meeting, and he voted against its location there. I may vote for him just for that.

            Hardly effective or efficient – unless the goal is to secretly promote telecommuting and get everyone to just stay home.

          • "Oh look, it's a Rob Ford talking point. And a lie."

            Unfortunately you are making Mr. Ford's point. Before you accuse anyone of lying I suggest you try cycling downtown from the Beaches via Eastern Ave. And then I'd suggest doing the same thing the next day, except use the dedicated bike path ONE block south – the one that *actually* goes all the way downtown. THEN come back and accuse people of lying if you must, but this time do it after you have your facts straight.

            If you prefer, try taking the 143 Express (after paying double fare) and see how effective that bike lane is. Don't forget to count the (nonexistant) cyclists while you sit in traffic.

          • OK, I'll go slower.

            Rob Ford says: "bike lane to nowhere"
            c_9 says: "that's a lie."
            Evidence: Google "Toronto bike lanes" to find a map. The Jarvis bike lanes cross 3 other bike lanes, allowing more cyclists in more neighbourhoods to connect. By definition, this is not "to nowhere".

            I understand that you don't like it, that you think there are better bike lanes, that there's something wrong with paying double fare, and that there aren't enough cyclists to match your personal requirements. But that doesn't change the fact that "bike lane to nowhere" is not true.

          • "Slow" is right, but I don't think "slower" is the way you want to be going here. I didn't mention the Jarvis bike lane, I SPECIFICALLY mentioned the Eastern Ave bike lane. Which does indeed start and end "nowhere".

            So, I'd suggest you follow your own condescending instructions, except google your way on over to the ACTUAL bike lane being discussed.

          • My apologies, as I should have been clearer. I was discussing Rob Ford's complaint that the Jarvis bike lane is a bike lane to nowhere. I have only heard him discuss that bike lane. When you mentioned others, I felt you were discussing bike lane strategies overall.

    • I agree completely YYZ. Here's hoping some of the Rossi technocrats get behind Rob once he's in power and sweat the details for him.
      Rob's heart's so in the right place.
      Good piece Macleans.

    • A lot of my neighbours complain about their property taxes, bad roads and dirty streets.

      They've never seen the guy across the street in Mississauga paying twice as much in taxes, getting half as much in transit.
      And many, mostly those who have never been out of country or even out of province, have never seen what an urban area with a real crumbling infrastructure looks like. According to Ford, we live in a corrupt hell-hole.

      And if you keep saying the city sucks, people will eventuaaly believe you, then vote for you to fix…something. Whatever it is that's broken.

      • Property taxes are definitely lower in Toronto….but property values are way higher and so is density — property taxes may be lower in Toronto on a % of home value basis but they are likely higher on per squarefoot basis (or by any other infrastructure measure you choose). That's beside the point anyway….the city is just not careful about how it manages money.

        I actually love Toronto – it is a fabulous city IN SPITE of its government, not because of it. I don't know where the 'dirty' part of Ford's message came from it's an incredibly clean big city.

        • Wow, I'm not sure what part of Forest Hill you're living in, but Jane & Finch — repugnant. Little Vietnam — smell it before you see it. Chinatown — garbage on the sidewalk, shoved down into manholes, odour of 100 years of funk. The Danforth east of Woodbine — atrocious.

          Toronto is incredibly beautiful and modern in a few areas of the city, average in most, but absolutely ghettoized in large pockets of the city. I won't even start on the TTC. The filth, lack of hygiene, and graffitti that adorn much of Toronto make it an embarassment on the world stage. Travel a bit and you will see.

          • Fair point. There is much work to be done – but there are lots of great public places too – the Beaches and Sunnybrook park for example are used by residents from all over the city and are very well maintained.

    • My problem with Mr. Ford >> and likely you >> is that 'saying stuff' ain't the same as 'doing stuff.' Blowhard Ford has had 10 years to accomplish change as a City Councillor — and yet we are worse off than ever. Like it or not, a Mayor has to work with his council in order to make stuff happen. This guy does not have the stuff. My hope is that Rossi or Smitherman wins but at the same time gets the sentiment that people are expecting serious change.

      • That is your problem with anybody but Ford. Promise change and everything people want (Liberals) produce zero, lie your way around the issue tricking the so called elite!!

    • So who in the world will you vote for?

      • Good question – I haven't landed. Either Rossi or Smitherman. Probably Smitherman because based on his campaign messages I think he gets that people really do want a change, and I think he has a better shot at actually beating Ford.

        What I'd really like is candidate with the establishment indignance of Ford, the policy smarts of Rossi, and the political ability of Smitherman. I suspect a narrow victory for Smitherman will come closest to achieving that.

        • That's just about where I land. I would prefer a bit more of the support for things that are working that Pants has, but more "change" than he has.

    • It's funny – translate this back to 2006, and this was exactly my rationale for voting for Larry O'Brien in Ottawa. Boy, was that a mistake.

      Now, granted, the parallels are messy, but the issue that came up in Ottawa was one of professionalism. I knew that O'Brien was full of bunk, but was optimistic he would enact those values in a measured, persistent, professional way. Instead, we got haphazard flailing around for the first 3 years of his mandate, and basically a status quo mayor in the 4th.

      So, given that nobody can believe anything Ford says, what's the real-world payout to expect? Can he implement a professional, measured, version of the "there's fat to cut at city hall" craziness? If so, then I can understand voting for him. If not…

  8. Damn, I wish I lived in TO just so I could vote the big fat (like myself) S-O-B.
    Pissing off lefties is the best entertainment anyone can watch or play at.
    I pick up the Red Star every day eager to read the latest head-exploding columns from Hume, Hepburn, Mallick and Gore, et al

    $88 million for a $38 million rink is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to those who never saw someone else's money without knowing they had a better plan for spending it.

    Die, Pinkos! Die, Pinkos!

    • Who are these pinkos and why do you want to kill them?
      Are you suggesting that murderers endorse Rob Ford?

      • Kill 'em?
        No need to waste my energy on these hypertensives.
        I'm just enjoying their exploding heads – they should be in that 10-10 vid or maybe a Scanners re-make.

  9. Rob FORD is not a polished politician and his speeches show this. Unless he is fooling all of us, when he speaks you believe him. His faults look back at me from the mirror. I can accept them. However, when other candidates speak you get the feeling of being slimed and the speaker comes across as phony and unbelievable. Rob Ford will be mayor and he will clean up the books. He should be passed the unused broom when he is elected.

    • I agree that Ford is being honest about what he believes. I also agree that some other candidates feel slimy. But: Ford's claims are simply not true. His number, factually, do not add up. Corrected about basic facts, he has ignored the corrections and continued to lie. Beyond policy opinions, he is actually *lying*, about a dozen different topics. His transportation plan requires $700 million to just magically be stolen from York Region, which he doesn't admit. His price claim for a pair of small bike lanes is off by a factor of over 100.

      Not interested in a liar for mayor. At least Miller, all his faults, is not a pathological liar.

      • No Miller is just a filthy sell out NDPer and we dont want those people in power only to split the vote amongst the idiots like yourself. Who cares about bike lanes get a grip

        • Wow, classy response.

    • Jake you are so correct, Rob Ford will be mayor because he didnt try and offer us the moon and the stars and he dosent have a track record of mismanaging billions of dollars like George Smitherman. I for one am going to love rubbing it in to all the lefties and liberals you people are all stupid and wrong. Just a wack of idiots. The conservatives are the only people who have ever done anything for anyone.

      • You know he's only one vote on council, right?

        And that half of his promises are dependent on getting the province to alter fundamental legislation? And that he's going to have to work directly with all those "lefties and liberals" to follow through on any of his promises?

        He needs 23 votes on a 22 seat council to change anything. Say hello to Mel Lastman 2, the sequel.

        • MostlyCivil's response presupposes that Toronto will elect a majority of lefties to council.
          But it could just be that if the Toronto electorate makes such a drastic change to the city's leadership, it might also be prepared to furnish that new leader with a likeminded council, to help him achieve his stated goals.
          Shouldn't we wait until election day to see what happens, before giving too much credence to people like MostlyCivil, whose criticisms appear to rest solely on a pre-judgment (and, more likely than not, also a prejudice)?

          • We will, indeed see what happens on election day. As to giving "too much credence" to "people like" me (and what is that, exactly?), we're on an internet comment board, where opinions flow freely, regardless of potential outcomes.

            The basis of my comments are simple. Mr. Ford does not have a stellar track record or working with the other right-wing members of council. Even if every vacant spot on council his year swings to a candidate willing to follow Mr. Ford, it's unlikely there will be enough incumbents undeated by Ford followers to give him a majority on council. This is based on years of municipal election experince, but if you want to call that pre-judging, then so be it.

  10. Rob Ford is popular in the same way, and for the same reasons, that Don Cherry is. You love him or hate him. He's brash, bold, and speaks his mind no matter the consequences. We're used to seeing that on HNIC but in a politician? How refreshing!

  11. "For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." I think that old H.L. Mencken line sums up Rob Ford's campaign and the attitude of his supporters.

    • This is all about change. In 4 years the pendulum may swing all the way back. That's politics and life!

      • … and a great explanation for why we're standing still.

        Crikey.

    • Good 'ole Mencken, this election especially reminds me of one his other good ones: "Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard."

  12. I followed the link to the One Toronto website. I noticed its members are all unions, public sector unions, art groups, Naomi campbell, Judi rebbeick etc. These are all organizations & individuals who get governemnt money either through grants, or loans, or governemnt wages. In other words these are the passengers on the gravy train who love to build this city by spending OTHER PEOPLE"S MONEY. These are people and organizations who want to spend more & more of MY MONEY and never their own.

    • Does any of this invalidate the facts cited, from sources like KPMG and PriceWaterhouseCoopers?

      Is there a single fact presented that you care to challenge?

      Or are you saying that, because the group pointing out that Toronto is in good shape financially and is seen as desirable by major corporations is made up of unions, you don't care about the facts?

      Jeebus. Even if you don't like the messenger, at least take a look at the original sources.

    • vcap, you may not like that we have lower taxes than the suburbs, are seen as the best place to set up a business BY BUSINESSES and have a strong fiscal position as a city … but you really need to take a few breaths. I'm not a huge fan of half the people and groups on the onetoronto.ca list either … but the facts are on their side.

    • You get government money too. Do you think your personal taxes pay for your ER visit, or to put out the fire on your street? Does your 3 bucks a tank of gas tax cover your wear and tear on roads, streetlights and the cost of pianting the lanes? Or the cops who patrol the streets?

      It's all other people's money, genius. You live here, on the largesse of many who came before and gave more than you do, and those who will follow.

  13. Where does this "Rob Ford would destroy the city, if elected Mayor" thinking come from? Nothing could be further from the truth. Mayor Ford would set reasonable priorities based on the people's wishes. That's democracy !

    Toronto will be better off financially, now and in the future, savings will be had by eliminating inefficiencies, taxes would be reduced, City Hall would be responsive to whom they serve, the City would be spotless, and it would be safe, wasteful spending would end, along with government perks, less city government, garbage collection would be outsourced, and subways would be built.

    How is this destroyong the City?

    • Simple, you cannot grow a city by cutting spending. You stall, or reverse progress.
      My question to Rob Ford's supporters is this: in which city are you living? The Toronto I know is clean, safe, and appears annually at or near the top of every metric every group has for quality of life. Sure there are problems, but those are solved with a few tweaks and pokes here and there. Not some massive reorganization and salshing of our social institutions.

  14. I wish I lived in TO for just one reason – so I could vote for ROB FORD.

    • no worries, buddy. i'll vote for him for you.

  15. Note to Nicky Kohler:
    The many, many references you make in your article regarding Mr. Ford's weight have nothing whatsoever to do with his ability to serve as Mayor. Presenting Mr. Ford's weight as an issue which voters should be uncomfortable with, would be the same as profering that Mr. Smitherman's homosexuality would negate his legitamacy for the position of Mayor.
    This election we aren't looking for "good optics"; we're looking for good governance!

    • I was bothered as well by the constant references to his weight and attempts at painting him in a (physically) unflattering light throughout. I say that as a thin person. :)

    • Agreed!!! Nicky – you clearly hate Rob Ford – so much for unbiased reporting. Shame on the editor of this article for allowing it to be posted as written. Also, reality check here – this is a news article – not a short story. So really, save all of the extraneous adjectives and descriptive narratives.
      Your disdain and bias for Rob Ford actually encourages me to vote for him.

      • I had never heard of Ford – and I live in B.C. so can't vote – but I thought the article was fantastic, fair, and well-written, not to mention humourous. As a result of reading it, I followed up with much research on Google, You Tube, and the online version of newsprint media (all sizes, local and national), as well as numerous information out of City Hall. What I found is that Rob Ford is the real thing, has been consistent for all 10 years on Council, and speaks to the top concerns of the majority of Torontonians: save our money, don't peddle to special interests, and clean up the city. The rather flamboyant story from Nicholas Kohler only endears Ford to those who now see him for what he is, faults and all. And all publicity is good publicity, especially if you want name recognition at the ballot box.

    • Well said! I came to the site to say the same thing.

      Macleans: There's a million ways to criticize Ford on his points of policy, his political history or his actions as a human being. Choosing his weight as your main metaphor is cheap, offensive, lazy journalism.

  16. GO ROB GO ! STOP THE GRAVY TRAIN ( I WANT A T SHIRT THAT SAYS THAT) THINK IF I CALL ,HE'LL HELP ME OUT? ABSOLUTELY

  17. Rob Ford appeals to the basest, most paranoid instincts in the most ancient parts of our brains. I must be one of the elites to whom the author refers, because I think this man is the last thing our world class city needs. No matter though, this is the city that elected Mel Lastman – twice. Maybe we're not the center of the universe that we're often portrayed to be. Maybe most Torontonians are knuckle-dragging, mouth breathing, spitting troglodytes…like Rob Ford.

    • No you just happen to be a stupid idiot who probably always votes Liberal like an idiot. We want people who arnt communist and who wont spend our money on stupid things. Its going to be sweet rubbing it into lowlife liberals like yourself when he wins big. They laughed at him for years and now who the eff is laughing, lol the socialists are so scared and I love it. This felix is democracy not the Star trying to manipulate the election by using fake polls .

      • For someone calling another commenter an idiot, you're a peach. We don't have a party system at the municipal level … and if we did, the last few years would have been NDP, not Liberal.

  18. From the moment I heard Mr. Rob Ford's plan and his strong voice I said he is the man Toronto needs. Finally!!!!! I'm on his side 100%. People stop criticizing his weight, look in your mirror first!!! Look what he wants to do, make this city better. I agree with him. This city is dirty, unsafe and nothing here for visitors. (The Harbourfront is so crowded the lake can not be seen any more. What else is there? The street are dirty, the shopping malls are old style and more and more cheep merchandise for higher prices in the stores. )
    Time to make people to pay whom don't keep this city clean and nice and reduce the taxes for people whom work for this city and make it nicer. In certain European cities people whom has nice clean property or business pay less taxes than people whom doesn't. Let's help him and make this city number one city how it should be, so we can be proud again to be Torontonien. I love this city so much. Let's work with him together. Vote for him!!!!!!

  19. You can't even be consistent in your insults. If lefties are tax-loving socialists, how can they afford champagne?

    Kind of a funny critique given that Rob Ford inherited his money from Daddy.

    • he means "champagne socialist".

      as per Wikipedia – "The phrase is used to describe a left-winger, who supposedly disregards socialist ideals in their daily life. The term is used by opposing politicians to portray and ridicule their opponents as hypocritical"

      Rob Ford inherited his money, spends his own money, and doesn't presume to know how to spend your better than you do. unlike, say, a champagne socialist.

      get it, dumb-dumb?

  20. i don't care if he stops the gravy train by swallowing it whole on his turkey sandwich – as long as these commies get their comeuppance, i'll be voting Ford.

  21. Rob gets my vote. After calling my councilor with a problem with drug dealing in the parking lot of the outdoor arena around the corner from my house, I received no response. Fed-up, I called Ford. He called me back that night. He knew the arena well and said he would look after it. The next night cops showed up and busted up the dealing. They kept showing up for the rest of the week to make sure it was taken care of. Rob Ford gets stuff done. Toronto needs to get back to business. Rob Ford is the right guy for the job.

  22. Ford has not been the one lying, in case you forget or didnt know the Star made up stuff about him beating kid who he coached football too, which now he is taking them to court. So whose the one being lied about here? Whats great about him is he is much more realistic than any of the other candidates and much more honest that George Smitherman the candidate with the most dirt and scandals on him. Rob might be very forward and tough but thats what we need when dealing with these pathedic union people. We the citizens want them put back in their place no more mr lefty selling us out.

    • Damn Right King Skin we want union blood , yeah and Robby and Tim Hudak will put them back in place the whole lot of them the filthy left wing women with the hairy armpits. Get back in your kennel:)

      • LOL…. Blunt but true!!!

    • I never mentioned allegations about his personal life. My comment is in reference to multiple appearances at candidate debates, during which he tossed around claims of budgets and spending and largesse that are contrary to facts. When corrected on this by other candidates, moderators and afterwards by the press, who compared his claims to the record, he showed up at subsequent debates and made the same false claims.

      The first time this happened, maybe it was a mistake. But when you know something is false and you repeat it anyway, because it sounds good and is working for you, you're lying.

      I do share you disappointment with the quality of the candidates running for mayor. But Ford is an empty vessel. He claims you can simply cut your way to success. We have an aging infrastructure that must be repaired and a growing city that needs new infrastructure on top of this. These events are happening at the same time, but Ford wants to cut the City's revenue. This makes no sense.

      Toronto needs revenue and, more importantly, control of revenue. How does Rob Ford plan to raise the money we need to fix the old and build the new? (Cue the crickets.)

  23. Perhaps you could ask for an enclave to be created somewhere within the city where you are exempted from all city taxes and on which absolutely no tax money is spent. Then you can live as you apparently wish. No sewers, no water, no snow clearing, no garbage pickup, no shelters for the homeless, no assistance to the poor, no removal of dead animals (or people for that matter), no care for trees or parks, no response by police or ambulance, no festivals, no art projects, no sponsored community arts of any kind, no libraries, no street repair, no community centres or programs for youth. When you leave the enclave to take city transit, perhaps you'd have to be charged the full (unsubsidized) cost. I think I'd be happy for you to be there.
    NOTE: This was a reply to someone whose original post seems to have disappeared … he/she did not want ANY of HIS tax money spent on anything.

    • When you leave the enclave to take city transit, perhaps you'd have to be charged the full (unsubsidized) cost.

      Of course, governments can only "subsidize" services with tax money. Since tax money comes only from tax payers, the net savings to taxpayers (as a whole) of funding their own subsidies is exactly zero (unless the government had to borrow–as it has–to fund the service, in which case the taxpayer will owe interest).

      However, when the government, in delivering its services, is hiring workers at greater than 2.5 times their market rate and then showering them with bountiful supplies of overtime at time and a half–at the same time that the city's official(ie., underestimated) unemployment rate hovers around 10%–one begins to wonder if the "subsidy" is not to the taxpayers, but to the public-union employees.

      • Well written.

      • Oh, you must be talking about the Police then.

  24. We live in the age of the idiot. If George W. Bush could be elected President of the U.S., Ford can easily be elected Mayor of Toronto. Otherwise we are fortunate as Canadians that the right wingers in Ottawa are hobbled by their minority government. Perhaps a mayor with a council opposed to him would be similarly hobbled in which case the damage will be not as great as it was after Bush's two terms in the U.S. Also, if LeeAnne's (above) experience with Ford is representative, perhaps Ford will be better than people fear.

    • Judging by this comment you would know, idiot!

  25. I don't know about this guy, whether he will be a good mayor or not, but people in Toroto I think got fed up with their "elites" that gives them nothing but red ink.

  26. Guys, at least create a decent macleans handle when you want to agree with yourself. Toning down the "Why yes, Dave, you're correct" style of posting also makes for a more convincing attempt at hiding one guy making 16 accounts.

  27. Ford is the Canadian Rex Ryan…they have a lot in common. Both have fathers who lived high profile lives, and they are following in their footsteps. Both look alike. Both are the front runners to win!

  28. What a mean spirited article?? I couldn't stomach more than the first few paragraphs.

  29. I've lived north and south of Bloor. No discernable difference. I don't have any artist friends. "Arts" refers to a whole lot more than portrait painters. I was thinking of all the small neighbourhood things that makes city life worth living – things that inspire kids, that make life fun. Don't let the politics of meanness turn us into an Orwellian land where we have clean streets but no vision.

    • I'll take clean streets over a thriving arts community any day. First clean the streets. Then maybe I'll worry about arts.

  30. Most likely they moved to the parking lot next to the guy who didn't have the sense to call Ford to help him out.

    • Rob Ford can solve the crime problem by chasing a bunch of two-bit dealers from parking lot to parkingb lot.. Okay. We're establishing some definitions here. So, when I stop paying for my garbage bin, my solution is simply to throw it on your lawn, or call Rob Ford? Or does his magic not extend to garbage?

  31. If he wins, there is only one person he should thank: David Miller and his left buddies, he got him elected.

  32. In as much as people actually have dealings with our politicians, Rob Ford seems to have touched on something that most politicians don,t get. Rob Ford respects the individual voter. He returns phone calls and does not spend his councilar allowance. Simple decent respect.
    I live in Halifax . We had a union led garbage strike back in the 80's . After the strike was over Mayor Wallace privatized garbage collection. Halifax has not looked back. Good luck Mr Ford.

  33. The real problem? Remember the TTC ticket booth attendant who made over $100 g's ? There very clearly is a deep-rooted problem with Toronto's management of taxpayer revenues. That's why Rob is on his way to being mayor. The tribe is speaking.

    • I have to wonder, does anyone outside of the union actually defend ticket takers making 100k? I find it hard to believe. What if I offered to do the job for say, 80k? Am I a good guy that "deserves" a high-standard of living? Or am I a bastard for daring to undercut the other guy making 100k, who is clearly more of a good guy than I?

      Then the argument turns to jealousy… this is purely a liberal trait, one that only liberals truly have and act upon. Conservatives recognize reaping the rewards of one's labour. So I am not "jealous" of someone who rightfully goes out into the private market and uses their skills to make a living. However, I am a bit "peeved" when someone with no discernable skills is able to receive a job that I could do for less (and I could start immediately too), and is only able to keep that job at that pay because they are protected by politicians and union members.

      Ultimately, I'm not directly peeved at the 100k ticket taker, however. They are just earning a living. It is the citizens who vote for politicians that allow it to happen. So ultimately, the anger has to be directed at an electorate that feels they and their friends are entitled to our money. And again, it's not at the people who believe this in which the anger is directed: the anger is merely directed at their mentality of entitlement which is part of a deeper-rooted problem that has been allowed to spout due to socialism's rooting in our society.

  34. Gee, get enough mentions of Rob Ford's weight in the article? This kind of superficial discussion typifies a lot of what I've seen out of chattering class types this past decade. Educated liberals fear the likes of Bush, Palin and Ford because of what they look and sound like: the average person. This has been an utterly moronic move. Bush is a silver spoon trust fund kid, Palin a spoiled diva and Ford, a career politician, son of a political insider. That they are perceived otherwise is the result of a well-orchestrated media campaign, and the tacit acceptance of the premise by their opponents.

    Of course these hysterics are hardly justified. Rob Ford as mayor will have to deal with a city council, which will force him to temper most of his proposals. While some of his proposals are unrealistic, so too are Smitherman's. Lets look at the basic premise of Smitherman's budget plan:
    -sell underused land (not a long-term revenue source)
    -launch a 50:50 partnership with the province on the TTC (because a provincial government with a 28 billion dollar deficit is sure to jump at that opportunity)
    -only rehire 2/3rds of those retiring (a nice step, but even if these workers make 80,000/a-piece, aka. the average salary plus benefits of TTC employees, the 1300 fewer positions don't come close to closing Toronto's multi-billion dollar deficit. Moreover, given the insane overtime rules many public workers have, fewer employees may actually increase costs)
    -using the city's buying power to lower costs (I figured we already do this… then again, Toronto IS run by idiots)

    All of this is supposed to close a multi-billion dollar funding gap, while spending billions more on transit, giving seniors free bus passes and reducing the vehicle registration tax. Colour me skeptical that this plan will come close to eliminating the deficit. Of course to the ilk of Nicholas Kohler those kinds of details don't matter. Just like the working class boobs he sneers at for marking a ballot for a candidate that resembles them, Nick does the very same thing. Declaring oneself for Smitherman or Ford is not about a set of policies, it is a statement of identity.

    • One of the best ways in helping eliminate your deficit in Toronto and Ontario is to encourage small businesses to flourish, by making sure setting up shop is less costly. Depending on big companies like former NORTEL and car companies- are none reliable nor wise. Canada's economic engines has always been its small businesses. Wondering why small countries like Switzerland, Sweden and Singapore are successfull? All of these countries are business friendly (tax wise and otherwise). Two of those countries mentioned are socialists but their population are mature enough to know that businesses provides job, thus extremely important to the economic health of the nation. Personal taxes might be higher than ours but business taxes and costs are a lot lower than here in Canada. Mostly their citizens know that without businesses and jobs, there will be a lot less money for their social programs. While in Ontario and many parts in Canada, every time taxes goes up for individuals, many of us and our politicians, purposely make wedges against each segment of society by petting businesses and us regular tax payers against each other. People should stop listening to politicians who choose this as political tactic. When one segment of society prosper, so is the other. As we learned in this recession, when businesses fails so are our economy and many of our social programs are left underfunded and over used. As a nation, we depend much on businesses for Canada to prosper. Do not begrudge better concessions given to them as we will all benefit from them through number of jobs being produced and resulting taxes – which will eventually go to our social programs. We will attract more investments from outside if our policy gear towards making businesses welcome and appreciated. Make reasonable regulations, as they are neccessary too, but do not over regulate. Good luck to you Toronto and Ontario! Hopefully, you will be out of equalization very soon!

  35. He doesn't know much about the way the city works in terms of walkable streets, the efficiency of transit, and the need to invest in culture and urban design to boost the economy. Those are aspects of what makes living in a dense city worth it.

    It's not the elites who are worried but ordinary people who just want the city to progress and be a leader in urban design, public spaces, transit expansion, and culture. It's ordinary people of different incomes and backgrounds on the TTC and in the squares who worry about the quality of life in Toronto with someone so ignorant of the urban experience in power. Torontonians love well invested public spaces and efficient transit. But Rob Ford has voted against countless initiatives for improvements in these areas in his time in office. (Often, he didn't even bother to show up to council meetings.)

    I'm sure Rob Ford will be the standard right winger who cuts the TTC's budget and agrees to a big raise for the police union and maybe a helicopter even as crime rates fall. Cut people's wages to afford the tax cuts for corporations. People like this cannot be trusted in running such a complex and diverse city.

    • Corporations are not the only ones paying taxes.

      • Yes, but they help in providing jobs to us individuals, so us individuals can then pay taxes thus contribute money towards social programs instead of drains to society. How dense and blind can one get?

        • Are you arguing with me?

  36. Artists bring a lot of people to the city when it comes to festivals and events. Think about how lucrative Nuit Blanche must be.

  37. Is MacLean's a division of the Star? I hope Mr Ford does win, then you left leaning pos' can gfy.

  38. He was a one-man opposition because he wouldn't even work with the other righties on council. Never went to budget meetings, never tried to build support for his proposed changes, just dropped them like talking-point stink-bombs in the middle of a council meeting. He actually could have passed quite a few of his cost-saving measures had he bothered to ever show up at the budget committee.

    For a guy who wants to run the place, he hasn't made very good use of the process thus far.

  39. My councillor Sandra Bussin is going to get ousted (I hope!) but likely NOT by a rightie…

    • One can only hope, but she has too much "influence" in this ward for that to be a given. A canvasser told me she's come across people who agreed to put up a sign for another candidate but they apologized because they felt it necessary to also put up a sign for Bussin because: "she retaliates and has a long memory."

      Right, left, middle – I don't really care as long as we get someone honest. First Jakobec, then Bussin. I fear what we might replace her with… We don't have a very good track record in Ward 32.

    • Mary-Margaret said she'd welcome the opportunity to work with Rob Ford – which adds to her huge appeal as a person and as a candidate. Bye Bye Bussin. Your trough time is over!

  40. It means he can't take any credit for Toronto's strengths at the moment and can't earn the respect of people who want to see it continue to mature into a cosmopolitan leader of a city with clean and attractive public spaces, quality transit, and culture.

    Also, Toronto isn't in red ink. By law, the city can't run a deficit, unlike the federal government at the moment. Toronto provides services for the region like TTC, public housing and highways for which there are no funding arrangements from senior level of governments. Toronto has a government that hasn't seen a corruption scandal since the outgoing mayor was first elected. Steady as she goes.

  41. Smitherman is nothing more than a tax-sucking low-life loser who has accomplished NOTHING while in office

    In fact every portfolio he has overseen has been mismanaged: Smart Systems for Health, eHealth. Soaring electricity bills. Taking trips on the backs of Chinese workers backs.

    He would have been fired years ago if he worked in the Private Sector.

    What type of characters would vote for such a character?

  42. This is the most honest politician in Canada, and what is really different about him is that he will actually be able to keep his promises once elected since he doesn't owe anyone except the city that elected him – and he will cut their taxes.

  43. George Smitherman is a former drug addict of whatever party drug he was snorting. He is a high school drop out, and pissed 1 billion dollars of our hard earned money away! Is there a job description for the Mayor of Toronto? These don't seem like great attributes one should have to run the city of Toronto! Go Rob Go ! Oh and by the way wil this drug addict relapse once he's in office with all our tax dollars!

  44. If Rob Ford wins the mayoral race, I am moving out of Toronto. He is scary as hell.

    • Good for you. I take it that, as a child, if you didn't like the children who were playing (or was it just when they weren't playing what *you* wanted) you took your marbles and went home?

      If you need movers I have a few names…

  45. To all who think Rob Ford might be the wrong guy…..he is a no bull kinda guy… He will improve TO in every way,hands down….why do I think…. For the simple fact of,name one thing he has not done,or screwed up…..and Mr.Smitherman….E Health….yah….A billion dollars…in and around…..and 70 percent of contracts untenderd under him… Go Rob Ford….

  46. Rob Ford may not resemble Jon Hamm but I will give him a chance since our city is so bereft of leadership of the accountability kind. Yes ! clean out city hall and its wasteful spending and let's have a city we can be proud of. If I could name one politician that I respect it would be Mel Lastman. He did what he said he would do. He was maligned and called names but today he can rest with his name respected especially by the citizens of North York. Nopo.

  47. For all who did not listen to Rob Ford on Oakley show at least few times should keep their nagative comments to themselves.
    Only thing Smitherman could solve, if he worked hard enough is the bed bug problem.Smitherman did not address eben one problem
    and solution to it. what about those grants city is giving to phantom groups, "How to do things differently" or "Young Talibans" $ 20,000 here $30,000 there. Give me a brake. What about those 25 city corporate credit cards no one wants to talk about. Has Smitherman mention anything about it? Vote for Ford , save your city and your money.

  48. Power to ROB FORD. Members of my family and relatives, total 19 people vote for you.
    And if anyone can be so naive or stupid, believing the result of pooling
    400 people deserves to be crowned as" city idiot" Do not get fooled Torontonians. Get your city back.
    Millers, Smithermans, are out. GOOD LUCK Rob Ford!

  49. Where and when did MacLean's Magazine become so ill informed? This fat toad is now down in the polls. He now has as much of a chance of winning this election as MacLean's Magazine has in making a profit this year. (Which is none. You will not make a profit this year. If you think you will, your as dull as the person who wrote this lame article.)
    Last week it was an insult to Quebec's virtue. This week an insult to Toronto's intelligence.

    Both of those where oxymorons if you didn't know?

    • fail

  50. I hope he wins – I'm sick of those politicians who spend our tax dollars like they just personally won the lottery. Hopefully, more ordinary people like him will run in the future. So he smoked pot, who from our generation hasn't tried it! He was drinking and driving – that's totally unacceptable and I hope that he has the common decency to never to do it again. He and his wife had a disagreement – I hope she clocked him and that it will never happen again. I bet those other suits have done the same and just never got caught… Streetcars – I can't stand them… So he doesn't wear a Hugo Boss suit – big deal – he should campain in his jeans. If what he wears is going to affect your vote – you deserve what you get. He's not polished – big deal – those that seem to be "polished" usually are putting on a show anyway – if you can't be yourself in an election what are you hidding??? He is overweight – hello – most Canadian's are!!! Go Ford Go –

    • "You cant polish a turd." You can now go to grave with that morsel of information.

      Notice how I used a food reference so a dim bulb like you could relate? GET OFF THE COW AND ON A BIKE! Maybe the people you know are over weight? Most Canadians aren't.

  51. I would not like to see a man with sick pancreas as a mayor of Toronto. Don't we have a healthy person?

  52. A vote for Ford is a vote against the current left wing, tax,em 'till they drop, administration. It is a vote against ever increasing user fees & taxes. McGuinty beware!!!

  53. you have it wrong. The left wing drinks 3 day old wine. The right wing drinks beeR.

  54. The most scary thing about Rob Ford is his anti-streetcar stance along with his anti-bicyclist stance. What works in the exurbs for people driving every where for every thing, doesn't work for the inner city & the Central Business District.

  55. As the weaving spiders spin their web of debt (Smitherman, Mcquinty, Miller) across the GTA the victims of deception will be met. Awaken now and reclaim what's yours (Rob Ford) our freedom is at stake. It's time to bite the hand that feeds before they seal our fate. Awaken from the slumber the matrix we call life. The system now is a travesty we must show all their lies. The only hope lies in are consensus not of left or right, sever the ties of blind loyalty and see what's in plain sight.

    Hope you like

  56. Just wondering how on earth genius Rob Ford expects to successfully host the Pan Am Games if he doesn’t think he can handle the influx of people coming to Toronto for the city’s two award-winning marathons and the accompanying races. Does he plan to ban the marathon in the Games? Two Sundays a year some roads are closed for about five hours, the first three of which most people aren’t even out and about and he’s arguing that that’s outrageous and needs to be stopped. The hotels downtown sell out and the restaurants are packed for the whole weekend. Not to mention all the positive international coverage the Ciity of Toronto and the two marathons get on a yearly basis in the international running community’s various running magazines, like Runner’s World and Running Times. The Toronto Goodlife Marathon was even one of Runner’s World (an American-based magazine with international circulation) target marathons this year, meaning they helped readers train for that specific marathon. You’d think that’d be a good thing! But no, he wants to cancel the races altogether over a few hours of inconvenience on a Sunday morning twice a year. It’s a stop-gap solution to the real problem: Toronto’s abysmal traffic situation. Why not focus on canceling that instead?

    • Cancelling traffic?

  57. I think Ford is another Miller
    Say everything you want to here but do nothing when he gets in
    When they make you do what you say to get your vote. This will be the time I will vote. Now you can give the earth then give nothing

    Just look at Miller and McGuinty

  58. Miller, Smitherman and Pantalone are so out of touch with Toronto's priority. Bike lanes must go. Build more subways and reduce streetcars. Majority of Torontonians love their cars. Toronto need a strong , gutless mayor. Please be counted and vote Ford.

  59. Kind of feels similar to when George W. Bush was elected in the US back in 2000. How'd that turn out?

    • Other than each having a father who was in politics, what are the similarities?

      • Both were hollow candidates with no platform bolstered by divisive and enraging rhetoric. Both are rich good old boys posing as common people interested in the plight of their constituents.
        No matter though, I guess the city didn't exactly collapse when Lastman was elected either. All decisions require the consensus of city council anyway.

        • Politics is divisive by nature. Different voters want different things; many desires are antipodal to others. Some want to lower taxes, some want to raise taxes: would there be anything more hollow than a candidate who promised to do both?

          The hour-long YouTube clip of Ford trying to help a distressed constituent in his plight to obtain pain medicine is surely a credit to Ford's authenticity.

          Ford has stated explicitly that he wants to end the Vehicle Registration Tax, end the Land Transfer Tax, end Transit City, reduce the size of Council, reduce councillor expense accounts, reduce the mayor's office budget, end the (Un)Fair Wage Policy, replace only half of public-sector retirees, end sole-sourced contracting, open garbage collection to private tender, make the TTC an essential service, and make City Hall more wheelchair accessible. What exactly is your definition of a platform?

          • If you accept this natural divisiveness in politics, then how do you expect to build consensus? Like I stated above, nothing happens without council's approval. If Rob Ford takes an uncompromising stance against the majoprity of council without refusing to budge then where will that leave the city? You mean kind of like Rob Ford's promise to eliminate all the taxes that you outlined, and still build subways, easily the most expenisve type of transportation project?

            I'm a little sceptical of footage of a campaigning politician helping out a distressed citizen. Although its propagandistic advantages are obvious.

            That is a very comprehensive list of campaign promises, when I say platform I imagine that would include a plan to implement these things. Rob Ford has been conspicuously evasive about the details of how this will be achieved. It's easier to stay on message. Either way, pretty well all the things that you stated amount to tax cuts and deregulation…and that smacks of George W. Bush.

          • "Tax cuts and deregulation" smacks of a lot of people. I was wondering why you picked George W. Bush in 2000, in particular.

            Ford's "Fully-Costed Financial Impact Statement" was disappointing. That he suggested he would cover some of the costs of his plan by selling "under-utilised assets" and then was unable to give a single example of such an asset, was inadequate. David Miller has done the same thing.

            Rob Ford's fiscal plan might have been light on details of implementation, but so were all the other candidates'. Ford has a tendency to focus on the picayune details of the budget (like plant-watering in councillors' offices), and ignore the more substantial misspending. A big chunk of the waste at City Hall is in salaries and benefits to employees and employee-related equipment (for example, a vehicle for an unnecessary worker to drive around pretending he's working in). This would require taking on the unions, and Rob Ford was the only candidate that hinted at doing that.

            The "Drug Tape" video of Ford was hardly a piece of campaign propaganda. It was released by the individual who called Ford (and recorded the call). The media used the tape to portray Ford as a procurer of illegal drugs.

          • I guess all we can do now is wait and see.

          • We don’t need to wait. It’s quite clear to me that Ford is an excellent Mayor. Hes not a MILLER Robert Bridgen. He cares for his city, not for his wallet. The reason all this hate is oozing is because of the councillors. They keep on hammering Ford for cutting their benefits and other stuff like that.

          • Like it or not, it's a consistent platform. If he saves enough money with his cuts, he might be able to afford some of his spending projects. I don't believe for a second that much of it will come true, but I don't blame a politician for trying.

  60. Amazing.

  61. I just read your article tonight and I have to say that I didn't realize that Maclean's jounalistic standards had sunk to such a level that they would publish an article that was so fatphobic. Your fat bias totally became the message of the article. Perhaps you should take a jounalistic ethics course that deals with how to handle personal prejudice when dealing with an interview subject.

  62. The one big factor? he isnt Miller!!!!!

  63. …hopefully this turd will drop dead from heart failure before his term is out…..

    If he does, will you get a haircut?

  64. Russell, by the looks of you I hope you clense the gene pool by dropping dead, hippie freak.

  65. i love rob ford because he is acaully hilarious, all you guys can go take off cuz this guy will straighten up the economy real quick

  66. i hate minorites

  67. i hate homos

  68. The most sophisticated campaign Toronto has ever seen = we are broke and we do not have money for any of your fantastic ideas – LOL

    What!!! Are you crazy! you, you right-winger, you uneducated hic, YOU!! HOW DARE YOU!

  69. Hmmm, how clever do you ford-lovers feel now that we’ve learned of his true, lying, homo-phobic, idiodic self-serving ways?

    You’d have to be a complete moron to continue to support someone who’s lied to you, doesn’t understand basic municiple budgetting (hint – it’s NOT the same as running a lable company, idiot) and is so in love with his own half-baked visions of ferris wheels and subways that he’ll throw away MILLIONS of dollars of committed funding and invested effort to impose his silly ideas.

    Voted for him? Sucker. Still support him? Moron. Give your head a shake.

    And just in case you think I’m some hippie loving leftist – I’m a successful business owner who loves to drive and enjoy the last vestiges of a livable city.

    If you’ve had enough of this vapid pseudo-leadership, let’s figure out a way to deflate this clown.

    As for the fat bias – frankly – it speaks volumes when a man can’t get in and stay in shape. How can you be trusted to take care of a city – when you can’t even take care of yourself??  The only gravy the fords should be trimming – is the gravy on the dinner table.

    • So your telling me, there is a politician out there that hasn’t lied? Everyone has lied! EVEN YOU *gasp!. It speaks a lot of volume, when you judge a person on his size. I think there is a direct correlation between his size and his brothers. He played football in high school, plenty of exercise – so don’t assume that he’s eaten himself fat, it could BE GENETICS. His dad originally owned the company,and as an MPP too, so don’t think he doesnt know how to run a city- hes run etobicoke plenty of times. His sexual preferences are his OWN buisness – he’s not outlawing them. Its one thing to dislike certain features, its another to out low them. Do you have any idea what kind of state the city would be without him? Wed be sinking deeper in debt, and those garbage collectors probably would have gone on stirke – again! The reason the councillors hate him is for cutting their retarded benefits of 5 grand per councillor for “office expences” which one man filed FRENCH LESSONS under. He has denied the benefits of a private driver and car, because he knows its all at the expense of the citizens. If everyone would stop listening to the bias shit that the coucillors put out, I know that the city will awaken and see that its a man with a dream for the best sourrounded by some avaricious retards.

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