Gunslinger vs. City Hall: How the world looks through Ford goggles -

Gunslinger vs. City Hall: How the world looks through Ford goggles

Charlie Gillis explains how council’s vote might serve Ford well

(CP photo)

(CP photo)

At one point during Monday’s city council gong show—before Rob Ford invoked Operation Desert Storm; after he went all Dick Butkus on Coun. Pam McConnell—I began to wonder if things were unfolding exactly as the so-called “crack mayor” had planned.

Councillors spent much of the day shouting at each other, and when Speaker Frances Nunziata tried to call a recess, it looked like the room was going erupt in a full-on donnybrook. There was a chirping match between Ford’s brother Doug and a few spectators in the chamber; from my vantage point half-way up the gallery, I could see Doug jabbing his finger toward a group of catcallers.

“Yer the scumbag, ya little punk!” he yelled at one. “Yer nothin’ but a punk!”

Some jostling ensued, and that’s what brought Rob storming over from the far side the chamber, bowling over the hapless McConnell, who—foolish woman—was attempting to conduct council business. She was what Norman Schwarzkopf might have called collateral damage.

This had all begun when Ford took a leisurely stroll down the concourse below the gallery while his colleagues debated confiscating most of his office budget and stripping him of pretty much all his meaningful power. His sojourn was calculated to provoke: the mayor brought along a hulking security guard who filmed the mayor’s interactions with an overwhelmingly hostile crowd.

Ford gravitated toward the most bellicose hecklers, and had travelled less than half of the arc around the room when the crowd began chanting “Shame! Shame! Shame!”

“Liar!” yelled one man, while another asked repeatedly: “How do you know Anthony Smith?”—a reference to the man who appeared in an infamous photo with Ford outside a reputed crack house and was later shot dead.

Through it all, Ford smiled beatifically, a kind of Prince of Chaos. Folks who had come to see the 44-year-old laid low grew ever more irate: Why wasn’t he playing his part? Why wouldn’t he grovel?

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It was, in brief, a lesson in the politics of division, performed with so much relish you had to think Ford is a long way from calling it a day. I’ve never seen a room more charged, or a city more polarized. If history is any guide, those conditions will serve Ford a whole better than they will his foes. Yes, Monday’s travesty was more proof of his unfitness to govern, and critics will decry it as such. But a whole lot of the mayor’s supporters will see a 300-pound gunslinger once again battling City Hall, his faithful brother by his side. That’s how things look through Ford goggles.

And with this fable already gaining traction, council’s vote to disarm Ford is not necessarily a bad thing. For starters, it has focused his at times clouded mind on the task of revenge, as evidenced by the garbled monologue the mayor delivered before he exited the chamber. Ford summoned his memories of the watching the 1991 Gulf War with his father, adding: “You think Toronto politics is tough? Well, you guys have just attacked Kuwait. Mark my words friends, this is going to be outright war in the next election.”

Next will come the long-shot civil suits the Fords threatened Monday to file against councillors who voted to clip his wings. These cases won’t get anywhere, because courts are reluctant to meddle in the affairs of elected bodies. But they’ll keep the mayor in the public eye.

Finally, there will be council meetings, and here Ford will enjoy newfound liberties. With no control over committees or the city’s executive, he no longer bears responsibility for council’s agenda, or its dysfunctions. He’s free to snipe from front-row seat, or his TV talkshow desk, and sniping is what Rob Ford does best. He was at it even before Monday’s vote, objecting to new loading zone on King Street based on the loss of revenue from 16 parking spots.

This all supposes Ford will navigate the next few months without facing a criminal charge, or the release of some appalling new video—a considerable assumption. Yet you wonder, after all that’s gone down, exactly what it would take to nudge him into political oblivion. The most recent Ipsos Reid poll, taken before he made vulgar remarks in front of news cameras, suggests 40 per cent of Torontonians still approved of the mayor’s performance. Eighteen per cent said they strongly approved.

It’s hard to imagine Ford stirring up more trouble. But the way things are going, he might be well-advised to try.

Follow @ChasGillis on Twitter



Gunslinger vs. City Hall: How the world looks through Ford goggles

  1. Let’s see, illegal drug use, public drunkenness, soliciting a prostitute, and now assault and battery.

    And he never gets arrested for any of it. He just apologizes after the fact, and it all goes away.

    Conclusion: Canada is a country where the laws do not apply to elected officials.

    • Accidentally bumping into a person, and then catching them to make sure they don’t hurt themselves, doesn’t typically constitute “assault and battery”. But I’m sure you were one of the loon’s in gallery.

      • But that’s just it. He’s “accident-prone”. He does what he does and perfunctorily (meaninglessly) apologizes after instead of watching and thinking first. Be thankful he didn’t “accidentally bump into a person” during one of the many times he was driving drunk.

      • Right! And the creak pipe just accidentally fell into his lips while somebody jumped up and down on his chest forcing him to inhale it.

  2. The moron’s in the crowd protesting should realize that they’re the ones making the scene a shambles. My favorite hypocrisy in this whole affair are the media organizations who say Rob Ford should resign because he’s become a distraction, while those same media outlets follow him around with cameras 25 hours a day in a drastic effort to turn him into a distraction.

    No mayor in Canada’s history has had such a determined media hunting for his political life. How about Quebec, where municipal leaders are going down for all kinds of crimes, yet not a single “reporter” there decided it was “prudent” to follow those mayors for 24 hours a day for months on end.

    How many “reporters” were following Thomas Muclair when he was being offered bribes back a Quebec MNA?

    But whatever. I love this new TMZ-style Canadian media’s adopted. Maybe we’ll get some glam-shots of Justin Trudeau smoking bong like an Olympic swimming champ soon.

    • No mayor has previously demanded this attention.

    • “those same media outlets follow him around with cameras 25 hours a day in a drastic effort to turn him into a distraction.”
      All of the events mentioned above occured at City Hall, during a council meeting. Nobody’s camping out in Ford’s backyard, spying into his bedroom window at 4am.

    • So Rick – let’s leave aside the media frenzy, which is your main point: instead, let’s hear you respond to the late-night meetings with Sandro Lisi, the months of denial followed by the admission of crack buying, drunk driving (which he claims often not to be able to remember in his ‘drunken stupors’), his relationship (the truth, not the statement that ‘he never saw those guys before’) with the 3 people in the famous picture. Without saying ‘aw, everyone does it’ and ‘have you never taken a drink before driving home from a party’, let’s hear you answer those specific questions, Rick. The media frenzy was born from his refusal to answer the people that elected him, like me – I wanted to know, and the only way I can ask him the questions is through the media – they try their damnedest to get politicians to come clean.

    • when in doubt, deflect from the story at hand

    • tell that to the Mothers who have lost their children to gang violence. Tell them how it’s ok that the mayor consorts with these people.
      Got an answer to that, Rick?

  3. Tonight Rob Ford announced he’s found Jesus….another classic Con. LOL

  4. Ford is a proven liar. The only truth he has utter is that he has committed crimes (drug use and driving while drinking). He is a hypocrite as he would throw anyone under the bus for doing the same. He has, by his own choice, been involved with criminals. His judgement is in question and he has been shown not to be truthful. How is he our mayor? We deserve so much more. I am sad for Toronto. I am sad for democracy.

  5. So Ford Nation, helmed by two of the most obnoxious men I’ve ever seen, is on a roll literally. Here’s the thing tho’, in what Canadian reality did it become OK to act like Gaddafiet al. and still be able to elicit local support like those two have??? I struggle to understand why (and how) people can look upon such drivel and still think well of Ford and his bro.

    See, the thing that sticks in my craw is the blatant lying and obfuscation. I get that people have drug/alcohol/other issues. What I don’t get is how he got elected in the first place with so many knowing just what he was.

    It so sucks to be Canadian at times like this.

  6. Ford nation isn’t happy unless it’s defending the proverbial Alamo – so the Fords themselves will lead from the front, and remind them at every turn that nothing their enemies (the unions, special interests, punks, elites, pinkos, leeches and other broadly defined forces of darkness aligned against ‘real taxpayers’) do matters as long as, come the morning, their flag is still there. Angry, faceless, throngs literally lining the perimeter of the council chambers and threatening to breach its walls are the best friends the Fords have because they prove the fight is still on.

  7. Canada seems to have an overabundance of corrupt politicians. What do you expect from a country that was settled by thugs, crazies and retards? Also Rob Ford is a jerk and he looks like a pig (the animal).Oink! Oink!

  8. What do people see in this man?