Rob Ford can’t fight city hall

His enemies roused, his brother a liability, Canada’s toughest mayor comes undone

You can't fight city hall

Photograph by Cole Garside

The Saturday after the worst week in Rob Ford’s political life, the mayor of Toronto and his councillor brother Doug attended the inaugural game of Toronto’s new women’s lingerie football team, the Toronto Triumph, in which players wear bras, hot pants, garters and shoulder pads, and for which Doug’s daughter Krista is captain. “How these puppies are going to stay in place beats me,” Krista, in her early 20s, wrote before the game on Twitter, an apparent reference to her breasts. “All I care about is: not missing a single tackle & leaving it all.”

The Triumph lost badly, 48-14, to the Tampa Bay Breeze. For the Fords, the losses did not end there. Bad news has dogged them for weeks, a situation so intriguing to many Torontonians that it often pushes Ontario’s provincial elections off the city’s front pages. Much of that fascination has to do with the intense culture war under way between the Fords and Toronto’s downtown elite. If Krista’s LFL—the Lingerie Football League—is the most powerful symbol of the conflict, it is by no means the only one. No politician in recent Canadian history has had as polarizing an effect as Mayor Ford and his brother Doug, generating an industry of Tweedledum and Tweedledee caricatures and promoting a level of civic engagement at city hall not seen in years.

Ford, who secured an improbable election win by promising to deliver a stripped-down Toronto—one free of graffiti, a Toronto of roads, perhaps some police, lower taxes and little else—has been stopped in his tracks by the city’s old order. His story is a morality tale that plays more like farce. It would be funny if it were not such a powerful lesson in the staying power of civic vested interests and the Sisyphean challenge of changing a city.

As much of the blame lies with Doug Ford, whose public musings have derailed Mayor Ford’s agenda more than once. Saying he’d shutter library branches in a “heartbeat” gave the unions exactly the sort of combustible materials required to galvanize public opinion and muster new forces for marches on city hall. The vision he articulated for the Port Lands, a decrepit stretch of industrial waterfront in Toronto’s east end, drew out the city’s elites from both the left and right of the political spectrum. The Fords didn’t have a chance.

The result now is a wedge of political necessity driven between Rob and Doug Ford, brothers so close they call each other by the same nickname—Jones—and communicate with a silent, non-verbal ease. Ford has seen his approval numbers drop—only 27 per cent of Torontonians would vote for Ford if an election were held tomorrow*, if you believe a poll paid for by CUPE Local 79, which represents city workers. To smooth the Port Lands kerfuffle, Rob has had to collaborate with the David Miller contingent on council that he built a political career despising and promising to undo. Doug, meanwhile, is rarely seen in the corridors of city hall unsupervised, so fearful are his handlers he might freelance anew.

In the days following the Triumph football game, Rob and Doug, dubbed the “twin Ford mayors” by literary icon Margaret Atwood, suffered twin defeats: the mayor climbed down from a number of budget cuts he’d been contemplating, including on libraries, child-care spots and a suburban perk that plows snowbanks from driveways in a handful of Toronto’s outer regions. Here, for many, was demonstration Ford was not prepared to go through with a good portion of his cost-cutting agenda—that he’d lost his resolve to honour his campaign promise and stanch the flow of “gravy” at city hall. Worse, he delivered the news after an all-night, 20-hour committee meeting that left him sounding hoarse and defeated. “I understand some people are very upset at me,” he told the room: “You can ridicule me, you can call me names—that’s fine.” Just the next day, wobbly support among Ford’s council allies on that Port Lands file forced him to lean on his left-wing opposition and cobble together a compromise.

Ford had no choice but to reach for consensus: elites on the left, like Richard Florida, and on the Red Tory right, like former mayor David Crombie, were agitating against him, and even members of his own executive committee had signalled they’d not vote his way. It was a shambles.

Whatever the recent troubles, however, many long-time observers speak of the Ford administration with grudging respect—if for no other reason than because it continues to leave them unsure of whether Ford is incompetent, or merely cultivates the appearance. The same question hovered over the election, which the mayor went on to win handily. “Lucky don’t make you smart,” quips long-time councillor Joe Mihevc, a progressive, of the victory. In an interview with Maclean’s on Monday, Ford insisted he’s maintained much of the popularity that saw him win the election with a 47 per cent share of the vote, and rejected suggestions his recent talk of “efficiencies” rather than “cuts” indicated the populist straight talker had lapsed into the weasel rhetoric of the politician: “I don’t want to toot my own horn here, but if there was an election today I’m very confident I’d get 60 per cent or more of the vote,” said Ford. In a series of votes during a contentious council session on Tuesday, Ford managed to push a few things through, including nixing requirements for police at city construction sites and approval to sell Toronto’s zoo; he even scrapped the Christmas Bureau, which facilitates the distribution of gifts to poor children. All, it must be said, to middling cost-cutting effect. “I was elected to clean up the mess and that’s exactly what we’ve done and I’ve done a lot in a very short period of time,” he says. Maybe. Still, it’s worth asking—what happened to Rob Ford? In his first six months he surprised many by quickly scrapping an unpopular car tax, killing former mayor Miller’s transit plan, and passing a budget that included no new taxes. He moved on outsourcing garbage pickup—a sore point for Torontonians still irked by Miller’s handling of a 2009 garbage strike—and made the TTC an essential service.

All this from a guy many predicted would generate gridlock on council. Emboldened, he went on to threaten Liberal Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty with Ford Nation, saying his followers could topple him if he didn’t cough up more money for the city. Although during his campaign he promised that “services will not be cut—guaranteed,” Ford now approached his cost-cutting mission with unsentimental enthusiasm, such as announcing that he’d only take two giant pandas from China if the private sector paid. His agenda even garnered death threats, somehow adding to his moral authority.

As recently as August, Ford appeared alongside Prime Minister Stephen Harper in a BBQ home movie shot at Ford’s mother’s home. “Rob endorsed us in the election—that helped a lot,” Harper said, praising Ford for “cleaning up the NDP mess” in Toronto and adding he’d like to see the municipal and federal conservative triumphs joined by one in Ontario to complete the “hat trick.” Weeks later, Ontario Tory Leader Tim Hudak cozied up to the mayor at yet another BBQ, the annual Ford Fest family event that saw members of Ford Nation wearing commemorative T-shirts and one of Doug’s daughters performing daring feats of balance. Hudak no longer seeks Ford’s support, such is the recent reversal of the mayor’s fortune.

So much has happened over the nine months of Rob Ford’s mayoralty, it’s easy to forget how quickly he set the tone of his administration—with Don Cherry, in a fuchsia blazer patterned with palm fronds, delivering a blistering speech at his inauguration (Ford appeared to wear his jacket sleeves tucked into his French cuffs and beamed from the lectern like a boy in his first suit). “I’m wearing pinko for all the pinkos out there that ride bicycles,” Cherry bellowed.

Brashness like that would become a hallmark of Ford’s first months as mayor. His team, a small cadre of campaign insiders with little experience in municipal politics, worked city council with steely precision. Nick Kouvalis, the tough conservative operator whose nimble campaign is credited with snagging Ford’s election win, briefly stayed on as chief of staff. Under Kouvalis, the Ford regime hammered together an executive committee that drew in rookies as well as seasoned councillors who’d felt shut out by Miller—13 votes. To push through Ford’s agenda, they’d need to reach the magic number of 23, 10 more votes from the “mushy middle” of political centrists.

Although vote whipping is routine in city politics, the Ford regime has been something of a different order. The mayor’s staff distributes so-called “cheat sheets” to its council allies detailing how to vote. These are drafted by policy director Mark Towhey, a crisis management consultant whose resumé includes a recent stint training border police in Afghanistan. Stories of aggressive pressure abound. Dissenters have seen routine motions quashed by Ford allies. “I felt bullied, to be candid with you,” Josh Matlow, a centrist councillor, told Doug Ford on a radio program Matlow hosts about city politics. “Oh come on Josh—get off it,” replied Doug. “I don’t believe in supporting someone that doesn’t support us,” Doug told him. “All of a sudden it’s like I feel sort of shoved into some weird underworld movie,” Matlow later recalled.

The Ford team’s handling of public deputations on budget cuts has been similarly tightly scripted. By holding the meetings, which attracted hundreds of people, including many activists, in a small committee room rather than council chambers, city officials were able to divide the crowd and house the overflow in spaces around city hall. News photographers complained they could not get the shots their editors wanted: a large, rancorous crowd. Yet pooling the various activists together in separate rooms where they could cheer and chat promoted a level of organizing that likely would not have happened otherwise. Some activist groups went as far as using the overflow areas as training centres for inexperienced deputants. The two meetings, which lasted 20 hours or more and which were broadcast on television and the Internet, became excellent theatre—dubbed the “people’s filibuster” by anti-Fordists—and probably fuelled the granola backlash against the mayor by uniting disparate elements and causes, from moms to union workers to crossing guards. Ford’s team had been too clever by half.

Ford’s media strategy has been both intermittently smart and remarkably odd. His itinerary, a yawn-worthy press release under previous mayors, is a closely guarded secret (“It’s pretty hard to hide 300 lb. of fun,” Ford has said to charges he hides from media). The mayor and his staff have almost never spoken on the record to the Toronto Star since that paper printed an article quoting two unnamed sources who described a confrontation between Ford, a long-time high school football coach, and a player. Ford disputes the story and wants a front-page apology. Star reporters covering city hall are forced to crib from press releases sent to competing news outlets, and citing Ford staffers’ refusals to speak. “We do not talk to the Toronto Star,” the paper quoted Ford spokeswoman Adrienne Batra not long ago. The antagonisms between the Ford camp and the press extend beyond the local paper. When, during an interview with the mayor, CTV reporter Naomi Parness brought up a story detailing allegations by a Toronto mother that Ford had given her the finger while driving and using a cellphone, Ford began to laugh uproariously on camera. Batra cut the interview short. “NO! NO! No, you’re done,” she told Parness from off camera, her hand suddenly in the frame, even as Ford continued laughing. “See, you won’t be able to use it, because I’m just going to keep talking,” said Batra. CTV quickly ran the clip. During a press conference soon after, when Parness attempted to ask a question, Batra aggressively ignored her. The tactic misfired when reporters refused to ask questions until Ford handled the CTV query.

Batra tends to limit these scrums to three minutes and generally grants long-form interviews to friendly talk-radio hosts or to Sue-Ann Levy, a Toronto Sun columnist who occasionally guest-hosts on Sun TV. Indeed, an early sign that Ford’s support might be faltering came when the mayor appeared on NewsTalk 1010 with host Jerry Agar, a talk-radio venue with a populist bent and ostensibly a safe place for Ford. Agar surprised many by torpedoing Ford, asking: “Very directly, the No. 1 question I think being asked . . . where’s the gravy?”

One consequence of Ford’s public reticence has been the emergence of a popular Toronto parlour game: surmising who speaks for the mayor and who really does his thinking. The extent to which Kouvalis, who left as chief of staff early this year, continues to speak for the Fords is an open question (his firm, Campaign Research, has taken as a client the firefighters’ union, which is facing cuts in the current budget process). Policy director Mark Towhey is widely referred to as Ford’s “Rasputin.” Yet the Port Lands upset has essentially removed Doug Ford from this parlour game; he no longer speaks for Rob.

What a reversal. Long seen by outsiders as the wide shoulders of Mayor Ford’s team, Doug is now acknowledged by those close to the mayor as his greatest liability—a view some members of Ford’s team found it convenient to shop around to media outlets last week once it became clear Doug’s vision for the Port Lands wouldn’t pass. An emissary of the mayor’s even delivered that spin to the Star, Ford’s nemesis: “I think it’s not a secret to say that Doug has been a big problem for everyone.” The Ford team’s media tactic ruthlessly de-couples the waterfront fiasco from the mayor, jettisoning the discredited plan along with Doug, who sat motionless and silent throughout the unanimous bipartisan vote that scrapped his vision—“I would liken him to a puppy that’s been kicked,” says one councillor on the mayor’s executive committee. The controversy proved a useful way to disentangle the two brothers in the public imagination—their identities had blurred too much together, clouding Rob Ford’s message.

Left-leaning councillor Shelley Carroll, a budget chief under Miller, describes Doug marching through city hall for his smoke breaks accompanied by members of the mayor’s staff or his own executive assistant. “He does not walk around this building unescorted—ever—anymore,” she says. “It feels a lot like they’re concerned with what he might say while unsupervised.” In fact, Doug has told fellow councillors he’s come to see his city hall term as a prison sentence and has no intention of running again. “Another three years and I’m outta here,” he remarked to one colleague last week. (Doug did not respond to requests for an interview. “No, this is crazy stuff,” Mayor Ford told Maclean’s when queried on the topic.)

One media report went so far as to suggest the Port Lands vote had exposed a rift between the brothers. “It’s laughable,” says the mayor. “Doug’s my best friend. We’re very, very tight. Some brothers don’t get along. We love each other past the point of love. So when I heard that, like, we called each other up and just literally started howling on the phone.”

Still, for whatever reason, Rob and Doug were not together later on the night of the Toronto Triumph game, after Krista Ford’s team lost—one Ford defeat among many. Something had separated the two, those twin Ford mayors. A TTC passenger travelling into Toronto’s western hinterlands not far from Rob Ford’s suburban home spotted the mayor and snapped his photograph. Rob Ford looked into the lens and shrugged.

*The original version of this story included incorrect results from the CUPE Local 79-sponsored poll.

Rob Ford can’t fight city hall

  1. This is less an article about Ford, and more an article about how entrenched interests will fight tooth and nail to keep the money coming in. While I love democracy, this is one of it’s flaws. The ‘average person’ has no special interest group, nor the time to march anywhere, after working and looking after their family. The voters elected him to do some cutting, but, surprise surprise, the people who might lose money are up in arms. While most agree that gov’t's need to cut spending, most don’t want it cut in a way that might negatively affect them.

    • “elites”
      “entrenched interests”
      “unions”
      “granola”
      “special interests”
      “activists”
      “pinkos”

      Anybody who pushes back against Ford is dismissed, even in this article. Giorgio Mammoliti explicitly dismissed deputants at his own public meeting as members of the above. He later took credit for public consultation.

      I guess I’m just not clear on which Torontonians/Ontarians/Canadians get to count as “real”, and whose opinion doesn’t count.

      “The voters elected him to do some cutting, but, surprise surprise, the people who might lose money are up in arms.”

      Actually, voters elected to him eliminate waste, which he promised could fund his tax cuts and balance the budget WITHOUT cuts. It was a phenomenally stupid promise, but he sold it and got elected.

      I don’t work for a library – if I’m up in arms about potential cuts to my local branch, does my opinion count?

      • eliminating waste is the same thing as cutting spending. Please tell me how you can do it any other way?

        I am not saying that any single person’s opinion does not count. I am saying that we all have our own issues that we feel are worth spending gov’t money on. Yours might be libraries, mine might be arenas. You might think that pending on areas is a waste of money, but spending on libraries is not. I might be the opposite. All I am saying is the people who are affected by any decrease in public funding will always fight the decrease. It is human nature.

        I am also saying that the people who don’t get a direct or indirect benefit from some of the spending don’t have the time or inclination to ‘rise up’ to support of not support it. They typically don’t care. What this leaves, however, is groups of people who have the time and inclination to support something that is dear to them, with a greater pull than they deserve by population. Throw in the people who are directly involved (salary) and the amount of drive they have, and it appears that gov’t can never be trimmed.

        Again, I am not saying that anyone is good or bad. This is all human nature. No one wants a decrease to a service that they use. No one wants to pay, or to pay more, for a service that they use. These people will fight to keep it so.

        • He promised to eliminate the “gravy” (i.e. cut spending) without cutting services. At least that’s how I remember it – but as a non-Torontonian I admittedly wasn’t following along closely, as I had my own city’s election to worry about. I do remember wondering just how he was going to pull that off.

          • I didn’t follow it at all, and I agree with you. It would be hard or impossible to pull off. One of the reasons is that we live in a political world where there are built in increases in every departmental budget. This means that if a department had a budget of 20 million this year, it will get 20 million plus a built in %. Anything less than that amount is considered a cut. That is faulty logic.

            Even if he were to somehow pull off a way of cutting waste, without cutting services, it would still affect people. If I have a department and my budget is 20 million, regardless of the reason, I will fight tooth and nail to keep it all, and get more. That is because it makes my job easier. The more efficient my department becomes, the harder my job gets, as I have less ‘wiggle room’ in the budget. This is true for private enterprise as well.

            I have always thought that department managers should be “bonused” on how much under budget they come in, while still allowing them the same budget for the following year (keep the fear of ‘less for next year’ off the table). That would help a little.

            Either way, all I am saying is that reducing the size of an gov’t, or even making it more efficient, will be fought by some.

          • Modster99 Don’t know why you are vociferously defending this clown mayor so much. Are you Don Cherry in disguise? Ford said he would cut the gravy. That means cutting surplus wasteful spending, not libraries or meals for kids.He said there was plenty of gravy and he guaranteed no service cuts. Now he is madly backtracking. He needs money to balance the budget but cut a nice source of income from the auto license fees because it was an unpopular tax. Cutting support for arts organizations which bring in millions into the city is then, by definition, popular? His shoot from the hip subway plan is going to increase our costs because no sane private company is going to build the Sheppard line. I don’t think this man is capable of running a city, especially with all that gravy on his face.

          • @a6151a8d2104036c1fa8ea08973c0d82:disqus Sorry, but I don’t think I was defending Ford. I was commenting on gov’t in general. . .

            You, however, seem to have a lot of feelings for the man. . .

        • I am also saying that the people who don’t get a direct or indirect
          benefit from some of the spending don’t have the time or inclination to
          ‘rise up’ to support of not support it

          Speak for yourself. Toronto has a huge and active volunteer and NGO community.

          • That is true, and it is also true right across the country. These people do, however, pick their charities and causes based on their beliefs, and their life experiences. That is why they have the inclination to help in that way.

            As an example, I didn’t start donating to the children’s hospital until my child went there. Now it is sort of a ’cause’ of mine, and I would hate to see funding for it decreased. When I retire, I might even donate time to them as well.

    • So.. who do you think these “entrenched interests” are? People who don’t work and don’t have families? “Entrenched interests” is simply a way of attempting to discount that there are real people affected by these decisions. It’s a pejorative term and using it simply demonstrates you don’t have a real argument.

      • You are wrong.

        Please see my reply to TJCook above.

        • Actually, I’m not, because as your reply to TJCook shows above, when you get rid of the loaded language, then it becomes clear what you’re saying isn’t an argument at all, but a tautology.

          • Please tell me how I am using ‘loaded language’. Please show how I am “attempting to discount that there are real people affected by these decisions”.

            I would submit that your inability to have a valid point that might counter mine (although I don’t know how you can. I am not saying anyone is wrong or right. I am simply saying that people who have a interest will fight for it. It pretty much is a fact) is evident in the fact that you only discount what I say by using silly comments. “Pejorative term”, “loaded language”, tautology”. Sad really.

          • “Please tell me how I am using ‘loaded language’.”

            Please see my reply to your original comment.

          • @TJCook:disqus Cannot reply to your post below, so here I am.

            I already replied to your post above. It, however, seemed to be more a comment on Colby’s article, than my post. It also, does nothing to show how I am suing ‘loaded language’. It also doesn’t show how I am ‘attempting to discount that there are real people affected by these decisions’. And as an aside, I was asking @Thwim:disqus to reply, not you. You both aren’t the same person, are you?

            But as a
            giggle, I will comment again on your original post.

             

            “Anybody
            who pushes back against Ford is dismissed” – I never dismissed anyone. I only
            pointed out that any sane person would fight any cut that affected them. I also
            said that I would do the same thing, if it affected me. It is human nature.

             

            “get to
            count as “real”, and whose opinion doesn’t count.” – I never alluded
            to, or commented that anyone’s opinion does not count. The closest I came to
            that was suggesting that people who are fired up about an issue, and do
            something about it, might wield more political power than is represented in the
            voting population at large. That just makes sense.  

             

            I have no
            idea what Ford did or said to get elected – don’t really care. All I was
            commenting on was how any person will fight a change in gov’t that will negatively
            affect them. Please, show me how I am wrong, or how I am using loaded language
            to make a point. Again, your lack of ability to do so shows how you have
            nothing to counter my arguments. (and again, I have no idea why you would want
            to. I am simply saying that people, who have a vested interest, will fight for
            that interest. Why would you waste time arguing something so obvious?)

            And TJCook, to your point below; thanks for proving me right in so short a period of time. :)

          • modster99: pedantry is indeed good for a giggle.

    • Everyone is part of a “special interest” group, including the so-called “average person”.  (BTW, please define “the average person”.)  My special interest may be different than your special interest, none-the-less we are both part of some special interest group.
      From all I’ve heard & read the KPMG study couldn’t find much in the way of “gravy”,  but they certainly focused on flat-out cuts to services – most of which will negatively impact the lives of many Torontonians.  
      When this process began, CBC Metro Morning interviewed a former budget chair.  He defined   minor cuts as those which affect others & major cuts as those that affect yourself.  I can’t think of a better definition.
      There’s no doubt that any organization can find ways to provide services in a more efficient manner, but that doesn’t necessarily mean there’s an excess amount of “gravy” to be found.  

      • You are right, we can all be defined by some sort of SIG. Some of them, however, do not require government dollars.

        I love that definition of cuts – so true.

        I have never said that there was gravy to be found. I have only said that no matter what a politician does to decrease spending, he will be fought.

        As far as ‘average person’ – I would define that as someone who has to spend so much time earning a living, and dealing with their family, that they have no time for politics. They don’t have the extra time to donate to causes that they might want to. While they might be able to be classified in a SIG, they won’t ever be fighting for it.

  2. I still fail to see why being educated and thoughtful (i.e. “elite”) is a bad thing.

    • Unfortunately, it’s come to be associated with “fat cat”, probably because people who are educated and thoughtful tend to also be those who are successful.

      • And being successfull is a bad thing? when did working hard and making better for your family, weather it be in Gov or Private become a divide between being a socalled fat cat and a hard working Canadian..?? Am i an Elite or a fat cat because i took a Gov job thinking i could do right for the people of Canada, and do my part in this country?

        • It’s hard to describe if you don’t live here, but there seems to be a very distinct resentment among the working class blue-collar types for the educated white-collar upper-middle-class downtown types – the very ones that can afford to spend time on civic matters.

          I don’t know why this is, but I suspect the decline in the manufacturing sector has a LOT to do with it while the “downtown elitists” who work for the gov’t or the various corporate offices really didn’t feel the recession to anywhere near the same degree – in particular, the public sector which has an enormous presence downtown (City and Provincial gov’ts, the universities, even some Federal offices), escaped virtually unscathed.

           Meanwhile the factories that once paid $25/hr are boarded up and replaced with $10.25 an hour stocking shelves at Zellers. One can see why hostility is bred, to the point where a purported blue-collar working joe like Ford becomes a rallying point for those same disenfranchised masses.

          • Chrisintoronto is correct in his observation that Toronto has become a divided city – similar to Paris, for example – with its blue-collar working class suburban types in battle against its educated upper-middle-class downtown types.

            Ford won partially because the “working-class” are beginning to outnumber the “elites”.

            But the rub is, by voting for Ford, and bringing in service cuts, the people that will be the most affected are the blue-collar working class suburban types. 

            If Ford cuts libraries, the first to be gone will be from Etobicoke (they have the lowest attendance). Do you think that the citizens of Forest Hill will suffer if the libraries are gone? They’ll create their own private system.
            When Ford cut Transit City, it’s the Scarborough suburbanites who suffer. Those downtown “elites” already have access to a multitude of transit options. They can even walk in their neighbourhood (which is next to impossible in many areas of suburban Toronto).

            And the resentment cycle continues.

          • Meanwhile the factories that once paid $25/hr are boarded up and replaced with $10.25 an hour stocking shelves at Zellers. One can see why hostility is bred, to the point where a purported blue-collar working joe like Ford becomes a rallying point for those same disenfranchised masses.

            Sorry, chrisintoronto, but I find that thinking lazy, stupid, and a sure sign of working against one’s interests.I find it hard to believe that in this day and age, the people mentioned by you in the last paragraph can’t find out about city matters or dig deeper into them enough to not be voting for anybody like Rob Ford. To me, it seems to be a matter of priorities in getting said info vs. watching TV all of the time.

            I also don’t have any real sympathy for them (being a person with a disability who’s been unable to find work)-if they think that they have it hard, they should go to a poorer section of the planet and see what real hardship is like. After that, I’ll bet they wouldn’t be voting for anybody like Rob Ford, Dalton McGuinty, Tim Hudak, or Stephan Harper ever again.

          •  Ask not what you can do for your city; ask how you can elect politicians who will take money from your neighbours for you.

    • educated and thoughtful is not a definition of ‘elite’

  3. What an odd article! Canada’s toughest mayor? Unless you consider ‘obstinacy’ to be a sign of strength, you have it all wrong.
    He was not hired to cut services, he was hired to cut waste. He only came up with the 10% cuts after the election as he knew he’d have lost to a flea had he said so before the election.
    He gives $3 million to find ‘gravy’ and can only come up with $10 million – all service cuts, no efficiencies.
    The mayor is an embarassment to Canadians. He is not a strong mayor, he is an ignorant ideologue.

    • I am easily able to imagine the thinking among the entrenched interests at city hall once it became clear that Mayor Ford would be seeking excess spending, as follows: there is no fat, this department is run like a German u-boat – any funding cuts will require cuts to services. So there.

      Reportedly, there’s a thin blue line in the police department, across which no truth will flow. What colour is the thin line between employees and politicians in city hall?

  4. Good old left-wing twaddle from Macleans, the left-wing twaddler.  Toronto politics must be a slough of despond if not despair for a new mayor who finds his way blocked whenever he even dares to suggest something sensible.  Have any of his critics ever looked around at the dreary surroundings of down town Toronto?

  5. I think the far more significant aspect of the Ford Failure, is that it has spread to the upcoming Hudak Failure and will spread to the Harper Failure as well.  The conservative message for the last half decade has been shallow and deceitful.  Harper’s propaganda machine has been more important than good policy in Ottawa.  Rob Ford simply made it more obvious to the public. Stephen Harper and his Mike Harris buddies will rue the day he ever allowed a photograph of himself with his arm on Rob Ford’s shoulder or spoke words about a conservative hat trick. 

    • Yes, this is the long-awaited game-changer that is going to lead to progressive and left-wing parties steamrolling to victory across Canada in every single election they contest.  No conservative party is ever going to win another election in Canada.  The people have woken up and arisen!

      • Keep Dreaming

        • Irony alert.

    • Ask not what you can do for your city; ask what your city councillors can take from your neighbours and give to you, just because you showed up ….

    • Let’s cross our fingers and hope that that turn of events happens.

  6. Wow, Macleans has really evolved into the Toronto Sun.

    • Unlike the Sun chain, MaClean’s is still trying to do journalism, and doing a relatively good job. Personally, I don’t understand why online newspapers have adopted comment sections at all, as they seem to do very little but exacerbate the ongoing breakdown in civil discourse. If one has an opinion, what’s wrong with simply writing the editor or the writer?

      But aside from that, it’s curious how the same usernames and/or same writing styles seem to appear again and again in so many diverse comment sections, at all times of day.  What are so many self-described “hard-working tax payers” doing online so much, complaining about lazy lefties when they should be working? Maybe MaCleans should do an investigative report on astro-turfing as a tool of public opinion manipulation.  No other news outlet seems to be touching this issue, and I for one would be curious as to how prevalent it’s become.

      • “What are so many self-described “hard-working tax payers” doing online so much, complaining about lazy lefties when they should be working?”

        Actually, most of the commenters on these boards (and especially the Wherryites) self-identify as “progressives”.  So complaining about “lazy lefties” isn’t typically part of their schtick.

        • They are also lefties who have no money, so cannot afford a computer?

  7. Weird that Macleans would write that “Ford managed to push a few things through, including nixing requirements
    for police at city construction sites
    “.

    Ford didn’t push that through. There was very little opposition to it. The champion of doing away with paid-duty at construction sites was budget chief Mike Del Grande, with the help of the likes of Adam Vaughn. Ironically enough, the only person on record in favour of keeping paid duty was Doug Ford.

  8. Mayor Ford’s simplistic idea of governance seems to be ‘point at something you don’t like and dumb it down then thumb it down’. There is nothing there.  It’s substance-free, but for the demonization and decimation of the things he blustered against while impotently sitting, frustrated, in council for ten years. It’s like a punk rock politics of resentment written in 72-point helvetica bold on a stoopid tabloid headline. 

    There has not been a single constructive thing he (or his ‘nation’) has proposed to a) make the city a better place or b) acknowledge that *there may be a better way to do this*. He has not once – ever – stated what he’d like the city to *Be*. Just that he knows in his gut that he doesn’t like what it is. Except for roads. Beautiful roads where the car is at war with itself.

    So, instead of rational, persuasive, heart n’ mind winnin ‘ civic leadership, there is the mystical, gravy detectin’, vaguely Scientological -sounding  Sigma Six managerial-speak and a grab-bag of moronic, discredited ideology. Then, as evidence of the massive popularity of these, impromptu polls done at Tim Horton’s. 

    The guy is in way over his head. He doesn’t like the city. And, as such, is unfit to lead it.

  9. What is this about “Toronto elites”? Is a working mother who turns up to argue for day care spaces a member of Canada’s elite? Are the people who work with the homeless for peanuts elite? How about the new immigrant family who can’t afford a computer arguing for libraries not to be cut and turned up at the “consultation”?

    Sure there are some elites against Ford, but there are way more ordinary citizens who are trying to keep the fabric of this city from being completely destroyed by the nouveau rich elites. These are the right-wing sons who inherited their business and their bully politics from their father in cahoots with  multi-millionaires like the Sun Media owners who use cheap lying populism, racism and homophobia to persuade Archie Bunker types to vote against their own best interests.

    Four hundred people tried to sign up to talk at these phoney consultations and trust me – they weren’t the elites.

  10. I still believe there is some gravy…like too many councillors, high expense accounts, lunches, unecessary travel expenses, police pay duty at construction sites, etc..Cuts can still be made but in the end if there’s not enough cuts to balance the budget then tax increases are required…it’s really that simple…Residents of Toronto pay much less in property tax than the areas around them but have alot more services…so Torontonians…what’s it gonna be?  Cuts or Taxes?

  11. disturbing that a father goes to watch his daughter play football in her underwear….

    • But that’s Rob Ford, and the ignorant stupid neocon sheeple who elected him, for you. Much like a Canadian version of Al Bundy.

  12. Do you really think that city departments have line items for ‘Gravy’ in their budgets? Do you think if the mayor asked department heads how much gravy is in their budgets they would all come back with dollar figures?

    As anyone who has ever worked in a real organization of any size can tell you, cutting budgets is a painful difficult negotiation. Any budget can be cut – often without any real impact – if the budget owner’s boss has the fortitude.

  13. These 2 clowns remind me of Sarah Palin and her family. Toronto deserves its fate.

  14. What were you voters thinking in electing Mr Ford. I hope you’re happy that Mr Ford has failed to find the gravy train and lied about not cutting services, guaranteed.

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