An unflattering look at the real Rob Ford - Macleans.ca
 

An unflattering look at the real Rob Ford

City Hall spectacle shows the mayor has lost the room. Are his voters next?


 

It wasn’t a worthless exercise. Between the insults, the keening, the mawkish professions of horror, the disinterment of ancient pissing matches, Toronto city councillors achieved on Wednesday what reporters tried in vain to do for six months: they put Rob Ford to a public grilling.

The mayor has indeed purchased illicit drugs. He has sought professional help over his substance abuse. He feels “embarrassed and humiliated” by accounts of his own behaviour. All this we learned thanks to the harumphing and posturing of elected officials who not long ago scurried away at the sound of the mayor’s footsteps.

If that seems thin as Ford revelation goes, well, wait 10 minutes: even as councillors droned on, the trickle of scandal continued at a courthouse about a block away, driving the saga forward. Turns out Hizzoner may have had a hooker in tow that St. Patrick’s night he got hammered at his offices in City Hall, which, when you think about it, was always the missing piece in this particular tale of booze, drugs and power.

No, today’s meeting in the giant egg off Queen Street was never about exposing the truth. It wasn’t even about forcing the mayor to take a leave, because council doesn’t have that authority. It was about showing the world that Toronto the Good wasn’t dead, just resting. And if that wasn’t clear to the CNN crew going live from Nathan Phillips Square, Coun. Anthony Perruzza made it so with his agonized oh-the-humanity plea to douse the fire before it consumes us all. “THIS HAS TO STOP!” he cried, pounding the air with a fist. “IT CANNOT GO ON!”

Melodrama? Sure. But noteworthy melodrama. By this point, nearly a dozen of Perruzza’s colleagues had risen to voice disgust with Ford’s self-admitted misbehaviour, and the stain it’s left on North America’s fourth-largest city. Some were Ford allies, some not. Most leavened their censure with a bit of sympathy for a guy with obvious substance issues. But there was no mistaking the unstated theme: to a person, they’d lost their fear of both the mayor and rock-solid voting base known as Ford Nation. Something out there has changed.

Indeed, when the smoke had cleared, council had passed Coun. Denzil Minnan-Wong’s motion requesting Ford apologize to Torontonians for lying about the crack tape, and to take a leave to solve his substance abuse issues. The margin was 37-5, with some of the mayor’s closest former allies voting in favour. By council standards, that’s a novelty sized card reading, “Please Just Go Away.”

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The mayor’s reaction was predictable—”I’m not an alcoholic. I don’t have drug problem. I’m absolutely not taking a leave of absence.” And it’s not like anyone might force him to go. Minnan-Wong had planned to amend his motion to call on the province to remove Ford should the mayor refuse to step aside. But he abandoned the plan after senior provincial officials advised him they have no intention of sticking their oar into this reeking, Toronto-made mess.

Yet the man left behind has been husked, exposing a side few of his supporters had seen. Gone on Wednesday was the shrugging galoot who responded to critics as a football coach might a bad call. In its place was an evasive pol who whined to the council speaker, Frances Nunziata, and tried with an excruciating lack of success to parse language. He was asked, for example, about a 2006 incident at the Air Canada Centre when a drunk Ford hurled profanities at fellow hockey spectators; Ford had promised it would “not happen again,” but when reminded of that pledge Wednesday, he dodged. “I said it would not happen again,” he said, voice rising, “and it has not happened again at the Air Canada Centre.” (Emphasis mine.)

That’s not the Ford that Toronto’s discontented suburbanites thought they knew. Since he was elected in 2010, they’ve forgiven his transgressions because they believed he spoke truth to them when it counted. Now, when it counts more than ever, he’s reverted to avoidance and hiding behind process, acting in the manner of the politicians he once held in contempt.

So congrats Toronto councillors. Authenticity might not be your strong suit, but for a while, at least, you gave us a glimpse of the real Rob Ford.


 

An unflattering look at the real Rob Ford

  1. Mind you, that hookers angle finally explains why the Chief Medical Officer of Health is named Destinee and the Budget Director’s name is Tiarra.

  2. So what will be the real consequence to this reality show in T.O. ?
    I doubt if the children will suffer too much from their parents having to explain what a “drunken stupor ” is; they might as well find out anyway before they enter high school. And I wouldn`t worry about the poor embarrassed image being inflicted on Toronto. I`m sure a world-class city can get over a little storm like this.

    No, I think the lasting result of this little drama will be a life lesson that will be learned by the movers and shakers and media and elites of Toronto and the country that there is a large chunk of the population that would rather put their trust in the manager of public funds with a whiskey-swilling, crack- smoking, over-eating, sweaty belligerent like Ford than to return it to an appeaser like David Miller.
    And don`t think that those citizens who supported Ford will be so turned off by his antics that they will abandon their fiscal principles. Instead they will think that if a questionable character but good fiscal manager like Ford can achieve such savings at City Hall, then just think what a sober Mayor could do.

    So, sorry guys, this is not the end of conservative governments in the country. It`s just the storm that is teaching us that they are here to stay.

    • Right now, politicians all over the country are dreaming about having the level of voter loyalty and stupidity the right wing seems to be able to attract.

      I admit it, we middle of the road people of average intelligence are at your mercy.

    • I think it’s rather foolish to make such a prediction this far from an actual election, no?

      And so you know, Rob Ford is not the “Government”. He’s the Mayor of a pretty centrist group of Councillors. Which, as you correctly state, is “here to stay’.

    • Give your head a shake. People who want conservative municipal leadership (and I generally consider myself to be part of that group) shouldn’t have to settle for a lying crackhead for mayor. Instead of a Rob Ford or a David Miller, how about a conservative who doesn’t do crack, hang out with criminals and bully fellow council members? Why do you insist that I choose between one or the other?

      Stop defending this guy. Conservatives need to find a new champion. This guy sh*t the bed.

    • ” Instead they will think that if a questionable character but good fiscal manager like Ford can achieve such savings at City Hall, then just think what a sober Mayor could do.”

      Yes, and Ford’s “base” helpfully believes the lie that he’s saved the city $1B.

    • What a difference a day makes! Now, cawm, parents can explain to their children why the mayor eats cats at home. Lovely stuff.

      • Hold on there, partner; are you saying the TO mayor eats kittens for breakfast?

        • I have no idea about the time of day. I just don’t think the Mayor of TO would come out and lie to the media and public! After all, he’s a friend of the prime minister of Canada! Surely these are honourable men.

          • That is a good one Patchouli! Two politicians in a row that are “honourable men” but… you forgot to mention… “and pigs fly”!

  3. There are no political parties at the municipal level in Ontario, and the mayor only has one vote the same as everybody else. The best he can do is break a tie.

    The rest is PR. What he’d like to do. What he wants to see happen. But he can be, and often is, ignored by council.

    The harm he is doing to Toronto [aside from the waste of time] is image…and that is considerable. It affects Toronto’s trade, business dealings, tourism and immigration.

    He represents Toronto to the world.

    Since Toronto is the largest city in Canada [bigger than many provinces] and the 4th largest in NA….this is important.

    Could we please have someone step forward that is able to run a large city properly ….and be a CEO…..instead of the long list of crackpots we always seem to get as candidates?

    Then go all out to elect the person and let s/he do the job without the constant nit-picking?

  4. Oh, please. Rob hasn’t “stained” Toronto. He represents the city to a T. Toronto stained itself a long time ago. The difference is that now the whole world knows it. Hard to maintain a state of denial in such circumstances, but this writer is certainly trying.

    Title for a more interesting and honest article: An unflattering look at the real Toronto.

  5. The Conservative/Ford nation base seems calm. Contrast to Trudeau news he had smoked a joint at a dinner party and the CPC attack, hate, publicity machine revved up to full throttle. Full throttle on the discredited false charges on public speaking. Yes, remember, that was a scandal??

  6. It ceases to amaze me that our News Casters are nothing more than the Paparazzi themselves. While we are trying to teach children that BULLYING is wrong, our own City Council can now say that they are single handedly taught the children of Canada, US, and around the world that it’s ok when they do it. Let proper Protocols prevail without the BULLYING from either Paparazzi or the Politicians!!!! You should be ashamed of the lack of Professional you have shown.

  7. Just to add to this…I hope the City of Toronto does get Wong. Watch Toronto go into Bankruptcy because he’d rather play Politics.