Who's to blame for the mess in Toronto? - Macleans.ca

Who’s to blame for the mess in Toronto?

Let’s start with the anti-elite, anti-downtown, anti-transit, anti-everything-frankly vote that swept Rob Ford to power


The most surprising thing Rob Ford has ever done isn’t his belated admission that he has smoked crack cocaine. It’s the fact he became mayor of Toronto in the first place.

Traditionally, Torontonians haven’t paid much attention to their municipal politics. It was at once the most visible and least exciting level of government. City council, and way back when, Metro council, were populated with the usual mix of business-friendly types and earnest reformers. And our burgermeisters—with the notable exception of  the professionally erratic Mel Lastman—were dull and mostly competent. David Crombie was “tiny and perfect.” John Sewell made headlines for wearing blue jeans. And June Rowlands is best remembered for taking offense at the Barenaked Ladies.

But Ford never fit the mould. As a three-term city councillor, starting in 2000, he was a constant sideshow. He declaimed the “gravy train” and paid his office expenses out of his own pocket. He voted against a suicide barrier along the Bloor Viaduct on cost grounds. He said city cyclists who were killed by vehicles had only themselves to blame. He proudly voted against funding AIDS prevention initiatives and all sort of anti-poverty programs. He made ignorant remarks about minorities. And he got drunk and belligerent in public, even managing to get himself ejected from a Leafs game on one occasion. Then he lied about it.

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When Ford announced his candidacy for mayor in March 2010, he wasn’t just a long shot. He was the comic relief in a crowded field of contenders. A no-hope, guaranteed loser. It was inconceivable that he might win.

But the six-month-plus campaign unfurled in ways no one had anticipated. Front-runner George Smitherman, a pitbull as Ontario’s deputy premier, was uninspiring on the hustings, shrinking in stature by the week. TTC chair Adam Giambrone—the left’s great hope—imploded in a office-couch sex scandal, leaving the bland Joe Pantalone to carry the orange banner. Other candidates of ballyhooed quality, like Rocco Rossi, failed to launch. And by early September, polls showed Rob Ford to be comfortably in the lead.

What was his appeal? It was surely more emotional than rational. His loopy promises to find “billions” in waste down at City Hall, balance the budget while cutting taxes, increase program spending and build “subways, subways, subways,” were at best delusional. A civic vision constructed from rainbows and unicorn farts. But his everyman rage struck a chord with voters, especially in the amalgamated city’s former suburbs. Despite his own privileged Etobicoke upbringing—the family label manufacturing business is worth millions—Ford was embraced as a blue-collar champion. And the anti-elite, anti-downtown, anti-transit, anti-everything-frankly vote he tapped into swept him to power. The election, three-years ago this week, wasn’t even close, with Ford taking 47 per cent of the overall vote, to Smitherman’s 35 per cent. And a full 80 per cent of ballots with an X next to his name were cast in the former burbs.

So who is to blame for the mess the City of Toronto now finds itself in? The enablers that make up “Ford Nation,” for sure—many of whom still stubbornly cling to the belief Rob is just a regular guy, doing his best and fighting the good fight. Smitherman and the machine that backed him also deserve a heaping helping of scorn for their inability to provide a reasonably attractive alternative to an outright buffoon. And let’s also throw former mayor David Miller under the bus. Bruised by the public and media backlash against a lengthy garbage strike in the summer of 2009, he chose to quit rather than fight on. By the next year, polls suggested he could have easily beaten Ford.

Rob Ford clearly has problems, and they’ve been apparent for quite some time. One hopes his admission of crack use is a prelude to finally confronting them. However, empathy for his plight should be tempered by the existence of all those blacked out boxes in the 465 pages of police surveillance evidence released last week by the courts. This story is not over.

But the city he has purportedly lead for the past three years also has some pretty big problems. Traffic gridlock has become monumental, even on weekends. The transit system remains uncomfortably packed and unbearably slow, while politicians at all levels bicker endlessly about projects that won’t come on-line for decades. And explosive growth means the issues worsen by the day. Bridges and roads are crumbling. Toronto Community Housing has a $862-million backlog in capital repairs. Nearly a quarter of the city’s residents live below the poverty line. And more than 5,200 are officially classified as homeless.

When Ford was elected, it was always difficult to envision how the city was going end up being better four years down the line.

Let’s just not allow people—and above all his political allies—to pretend that the the way it ended up is somehow a shock.

If you elect a clown, you don’t get to act surprised when the circus comes to town.


Who’s to blame for the mess in Toronto?

  1. There is absolutely nothing to add and I couldn’t have said it better if I tried.

    • Ford will be re-elected as Mayor of Toronto in 2014.

      And Jack Layton went to Brian Mulroney for help? What?

        • You’ll be in jail long before Rob Ford, you fool!

          • On what charge, pray tell?

            It’s true that I don’t have the funds to buy my way out of trouble like Rob does – but I’m also not a crackhead who hangs with drug dealers and threatens to kill people.

      • Yep, found in Jack never got the attention Ford gets.

        I wonder how many favors Jack gave for keeping that quiet while two MPs sharing the same home double billed Ottawa.

        But the left never pursued that like they do for Ford.

        So for me, Ford is 1/2 right as he has liberals, unions, mafia and crooked cops in a snit.

  2. If I were one of the employees who Rob Ford fired, I would be talking to a lawyer about a wrongful dismissal suit at the hands of a drug and alcohol addled Mayor. My guess is that this is a nightmare scenario for the City of Toronto.
    How these big payouts will save the taxpayer money is not easily understood

    • Just because someone has substance abuse issues, doesn’t mean that everybody they fired were wrongly dismissed. Should we call into question everybody Justin Trudeau fires in the future because he’s an admitted drug user?

      • That dog won’t hunt. (I know you know that, but it’sso tiresome to watch you and your ilk continue to try.)

        • What dog won’t hunt? You’re suggesting that someone with substance abuse is legally prevented from ever firing someone?

          Or are you suggesting that Trudeau’s history of drug use is a non-issue? If that’s the case, may I ask why his drug use is OK while Ford’s is not, in your opinion?

          • Rick, while I’m not a fan of either politician you’re speaking of, I must admit I find it to be somewhat of a stretch to compare having tried marijuana to having tried crack cocaine. The latter is far more addictive and destructive (and I say that as someone who works with addicts), while the former’s effects have been documented to be far less harmful.

            As far as the public difference goes, Mr. Ford’s actions in the past year suggest he “may” still have substance abuse issues; Mr. Trudeau’s actions, whatever I may think of him as a politician, do not.

          • This comment was deleted.

          • Think you got your drugs mixed up, Rickie! Either that or you’re looking to get sued for libel…

          • I think notRick gets his drugs mixed up a lot. That would explain his earlier “confusion” about his own background, as well as his posting content.

          • You are so bias against Trudeau, you can’t even see the big difference between Trudeau admission to having smoked marijuana and Ford use of crack cocaine. Not all drugs are the same, especially when marijuana is less harmful than tabacco and alcohol. In fact, if the situation was reversed, you would be pointing out the difference to us and calling us out for supporting an addict. “There is none more blind than one who doesn’t want to see”

          • That is the second time you have suggested Trudeau or outright accused him of being an addict. You should get an assurance from the Conservative Fund that they will cover your legal expenses if you’re going to continue with this.

          • LOL! I’d be happy to go to court on that one. Trudeau wants Harper to testify under oath about his knowledge in the Senate affair. I’d get Trudeau to testify under oath about his history of drug use. I’d get to call witnesses, like his buddy Marc “The Prince of Pot” Emery. I could probably even get a blood test done, which might show that even since being elected leader of the Liberal’s he’s continued to smoke dope.

            The opportunities would be endless. He’d have to testify under oath about other drug use too, obviously. He wouldn’t be the first trust fund baby to spend his formative years “experimenting” with other harder drugs.

            I’d be happy to hear Trudeau publicly say that he’s quit smoking dope, but as far as I know he hasn’t. He’s only defended his past use of the drug, and said nothing about the present.

          • How would you propose ‘going to court on that one’? I’m just curious how you think the courts work.

          • Obviously you were suggesting I’d be in court for some type of libel charge. Or what other “legal expenses” were you referring to?

            Maybe when Justin Trudeau becomes Prime Minister in 2054 he’ll throw all of those who opposed him into court to stand trial for crimes against The Hair.

            The Liberal way these days seems to be that when you’re defeated at the polls, just accuse your competitors of cheating. Show me a recent race where that’s not the Liberal party’s defense for it’s loses.

          • Oh Ricky, the old reverse onus gambit. Sorry -you made the accusation so you get to make the case. Not everything the Manning Institute taught you works in real life.

          • So, how much is Harper using?

            No point in asking him if users almost always lie about how often and how much. Why would Harper be any different?

          • So do you think for Trudeau’s years in BC he only tried weed one? Hahahaha…

            And let us not forget “charity” boy getting paid and not saying anything. The deception of this alone says what Trudeau is like.

          • So what is it about crack-addicted mayors you admire so much?

          • Newsflash for you Dave, hard drugs have made their way to Ontario. It’s amusing that for someone so anti-government, you’re standing up for Ford.

          • May still have a substance abuse issue??? What’s in all those brown envelopes left by Lisi on the seat of Rob Fords vehicle? Or, perhaps they were bribes?

          • Good try old boy. Mr Trudeau didn’t deny deny deny for months, nay years on end.

          • No, he just voted for harsher sentences for drug dealers, even though he was obviously a customer of a drug dealer at the time. Nor was he forthcoming with his history of drug use prior to the Liberal leadership contest.

            Frankly, if I were a Liberal I’d be pretty pissed off at Trudeau for hiding his history of drug abuse until after he’d conned all the Liberals into voting for him. Now the party’s got that monkey on it’s back, and there’s no getting rid of it without looking like complete idiots and ditching their leader before he can even fight an election.

          • Awesome response. So what’s the bar for you Rick? What would make you stop supporting a Conservative politician? Child sexual abuse? No, nevermind, you support Vic Toews so that’s out…..

            Oh my god the “conservative” movement in this country is one hot mess right now.

          • Don’t judge too harshly. Perhaps he is in one of his a “drunken stupor”, which is a perfectly acceptable way to hold office (or blog) if you’re “conservative”

          • If a candidate named “Pedophile Pete” were to run as a tax-fighter, I’m sure he would get the support from the Canadian conservative tea-baggers.

          • You’re accusing Vic Toews of child sexual abuse? Please provide supporting evidence, lest you find yourself slapped with a defamation lawsuit.

          • Ha – you’re accusing others of defamation.

          • Wasn’t he the one who diddled the babysitter? Or am I confusing him with a different ‘conservative’ politician?

          • No, you are correct. Toews is the diddler. notRick suffers from Conservative dissonance-induced memory loss.

          • Your guy was up there pandering to white slavers, child abusers, illegal immigrant smugglers, drug dealers and hookers.

            And you clown bozos are running around just last week erecting statues to him. The NDP is finished.

          • He was a dead-beat dad who reneged on his child support obligations according to wife #1.
            Ah the traditional Tory family values sure warm the cockles of one’s heart.

          • Jack’s wife gave him love and financial support while for year while he continued his education.

            The second he had a 25 cent PhD from York he dumped her and walked out the door. He was a filthy dishonest, dishonourable, but typical NDP wretch. And you are an exposed hypocrite.

          • I didn’t walk out on my wife and I didn’t diddle the baby-sitter, so how exactly am I a hypocrite? If you even know what that word means.

            As an addition, Vic and his fellow trained seals claim to be the party of family values and accused the rest of us of being in league with child pornographer, all the while he was shagging a teenager and cheating on his wife and kids.. There’s a real incidence of hypocrisy..

          • That child business was jack layton and don’t ever forget it Mr. Peterborough Hypocrite.

          • Duh – he’s against drug pushers – that’s why he wants to legalize pot to put them out of business. You are at your most confused on this subject.

          • Typical Liberal thinking. If you just make something that’s illegal, legal people will stop doing it? By legalizing Justin’s drug of choice, you won’t have fewer drug pushers, you’ll have more, they’ll just be doing it legally.

            By you’re logic, we could end murder by simply legalizing murder. Which is, frankly, stupid.

          • Indeed. Looks like Harper not only endorses that kind of thinking, but he isn’t just a user, he also pushes his drug of choice.

          • It gets worse….so a liquor store owner is a bootlegger? As usual you are pro black market, pro organized crime.

          • maybe you can draw him a diagram or something…more likely to be on his level

          • I would if I thought it would help. Rick is a little challenged.

          • You’ll need a big piece of paper and lots of crayons…

          • A liquor store owner isn’t a bootlegger, obviously. If you’d owned a liquor store in 1920’s USA, then you’d be a bootlegger. I find it shocking that I have to explain the differences between the 1920’s and 2010’s to you. Are you sure you know what year it is?

          • You think you’re surprised, I can’t believe that you can’t follow this. Actually, I’m not surprised. If marijuana is legalized and sold legally, the owner of the business selling it is not a pusher. Read this slowly, take your time.

          • Ya gotta love a guy who cites logic in a straw man. lol

            edit: actually 2 straw men and an unsubstantiated claim about an increase in drug use, which, if you look at countries that have liberal drug laws, is utter bs

            there’s never a more sure fire sign of someone who can’t use, doesn’t understand or doesn’t have logic on his side than someone who riddles his posts with petty, personal insults

          • Was Harper’s history of drug abuse know when he ran for leadership?

          • News flash genius, beer isn’t an illegal drug. Lame attempt.

          • News flash genius – legality has no bearing on the standard of evidence you’re using to determine he’s a “drug abuser”.
            I’m simply applying your standards.

            If fact we have much more evidence that Harper is a drug abuser than Trudeau.
            In Trudeau’s case we have only his word. In Harper’s we have numerous photos.

          • You have photo’s of Harper abusing drugs? Please share.

          • Of course. Simply click on the red highlighted text in my previous comments.

          • Nor will pot be if JT legalizes it. But both have mind- and behaviour-altering effects. Beer drinkers are more likely to get violent or drive under the influence – and the long-term effects on the body are worse. So if you ignore the legality of the drug of choice (an artificial distinction drawn by legislators, easily changed) and go with the science [yes I know; you’re a Conservative; why start with science now?] then Harper’s usage is by far the worse.

            Here’s a thought puzzle for ya Rick – if JT were to not just legalize pot but also make beer illegal, would you be forced to drop your support for Harper and start lambasting him as a druggie?

          • Just putting pants on in the morning is enough of a “thought puzzle” for poor Rick.

          • Everybody figured he smoked. Look where he came from, who were his parents and how he grew up and you’ll just come to the conclusion that weed is normal for him and a lot of other Canadian, especially of voting age. We relate more to him than to Rob “crackhead” Ford. In fact we may even admire him for it. As someone in my sixtieth year, I totally relate to Justin and his cultural upbringing. Children of the fifties and sixties “get” Justin Trudeau. We don’t “get hypocrites like Ford who talk tough on crack while dealing in and with drugs.

          • I think he’s talking about anyone who was fired to telling the Mayor to help help for his (now admitted) substance abuse issues. Are you that obtuse?

          • Or found in Jack supporting sex trade.

          • You’re comparing Crack to Marijuana? for most normal Canadians Trudeau admission felt like, “Okaaaay, what’s the big deal? Been there, done that!” Rob “I have never used crack!” Ford is a completely different matter! If you can’t tell the difference in attitude and behaviour between the two men then you’re one reason Rob Ford got elected!

      • You should write the City of Toronto and offer your legal services.
        Your rebuttal is sure to make any judge take notice and will undoubtedly save the taxpayers lots of money.

      • Indeed. That would call into question the firing of Nigel Wright by admitted drug userStephen Harper.

      • I agree that there’s little chance that a wrongful dismissal suit against Ford would bear much fruit, but still, the comparisons to Trudeau seem to be, at the very least, a stretch.

        It seems to me that the time for the Ford/Trudeau comparisons was back in August when Ford was asked about Trudeau’s admission, and admitted that he himself (Ford) had smoked “a lot” of pot. Furthermore, it seems to me that no one made a big deal about Ford’s admission at the time. No one called for Ford’s resignation over his pot admission who wasn’t already calling for Trudeau’s resignation over his admission.

        Now, the latest Ford stories seem completely different to me. Of course, there’s the obvious “pot isn’t crack” angle, but that’s just the tip of the iceburg. Ford’s latest admission isn’t about smoking an illegal drug at a dinner party with friends, it’s about smoking an illegal drug in a crack house, while apparently in a drunken stupor, and in the company of drug dealers and gun-runners. Furthermore, the police seem to have strong circumstantial evidence (and in some cases video and photographs) that the mayor was getting drunk in public in the middle of the day with a man who’s been charged with extortion and drug dealing. And making “dead drops” with said man in parking lots and convenience stores. And calling said alleged extortionist and drug runner over 300 times in a 40 day period.

        Personally, I’ll put Trudeau’s credibility down with Ford’s when I read in the papers that some of the folks from Trudeau’s dinner party have been arrested for drug dealing, or extortion, or gun running, or that a couple of them have been shot, or that one of them has been murdered.

  3. Great article Jonathon!

    I grew up in the suburbs and hate them: I think the suburbs are toxic.

    They pave over useful orchards and farmland, they drain the cities for lower property tax areas while using the cities’ resources, and their big box store anti-intellectual enclaves have no culture beyond sitting outside the Mac’s milk store and killing cats. Suburbs are evil.

    • Are you collecting for the committee to reelect Rob Ford anyway? You’re making a good case for one.

    • LOL It’s better-than-thou Hipster losers like yourself that will ensure Rob Ford gets elected again.

      • And you’d be willing to bring Toronto down because of your class envy?

        PS….a ‘hipster’?? Cripes next you’ll be talking about Beatniks! Upgrade your calendar.

        • Yes, hipsters are as lame as beatniks were back in your day. It’s the current terminology for the same losers.

          I update my calendar every year. Maybe you should update your vernacular.

          • Sorry son, I don’t use terms like hipster…you do. Both beatniks and hipsters were before my time.

            How old ARE you anyway?

          • I’m 28. But thanks for asking Granny. Keep up, even with the Alzheimer’s.

          • I’m going to go ahead and put a +/- 20 on that post. Hopefully that keeps us in the range of your actual age, notRick.

          • You claimed to be employed and Albertan at one time too, so I have my doubts about the 28.

            However, you’re also a young fogey.

          • Tricky Ricky the liar
            Anything you say must be measured against your record of inventing facts to suit your need, any credibility you thought you might have disappeared long ago you sad sad individual.

          • Can you point to a lie? No, didn’t think so. You’re lying. And projecting. Hipster loser. Have fun spending 30 minutes making your hair look like you don’t care tomorrow.

          • It’s not the first time we’ve butted heads and you claimed to have researched something that you later admitted you hadn’t.

            It doesn’t surprise me that a supporter of a lieing loser like Ford should be a lieing loser himself, but remember the inter-tubes doesn’t forget loser.

          • Um, I “claimed” to “research” what exactly?

            If you’re going to call someone a liar, you should at least be able to point to “the lie”. Hipster douche bag.

          • Tricky Ricky
            Are really going to play all coy?
            You were caught and told me to go f**k myself, but that’s the tories for you, deny, deny , deny then blame someone else, cos it’s never your fault.
            What a douche

          • 4 months ago you insisted Ft Smith was in AB, it wasn’t and 5 months ago in this very organ you claimed to have knowledge of something about the photo of Ford and the druggies then it was established you lied about that and you ran away. Not before telling me I should “get a job.”

            O poor tricky Ricky and his undying commitment to the gray man in the sweater – facts are not what you insist they should be.

          • God, Rick Omen, you’re just awful.

      • The Royal Master of the Irrelevant Insult…

      • What an odd comment.

        ALso, why do 90% of people move out to the suburbs? “because it’s a better place to live and raise kids” they all say.

  4. Ok Toronto, you gave stupid a decent try. But even dancing bears and elephants gotta come down off the uni-cycle and rest some time. What next!

  5. As a great comedian once said, “You can’t fix stupid!”

  6. Oh no, So Rob Ford is not perfect, I am sooooooo disappointed, especially when everybody else is!!!

    • Wait, are you being sarcastic?

    • Yes, you’re right we should not cast stones. Just today, I left work early and did not finish my project so I could hang out with kids 1/2 my age and get drunk and high, then I drove back to work and got in a fight.

      Oh wait, I didn’t.

  7. I don’t think suburbanites are stupid for voting for Ford (and in some cases still supporting him). They contribute to Toronto’s tax base, but do not benefit from Toronto’s infrastructure as much as downtowners. A power vacuum in city hall serves them just fine – it means no leadership for [expensive] grand projects.

    This is the problem with amalgamation. It isn’t that it’s joined “dumb” suburbanites and “sophisticated” urbanites. The problem is that it joined groups of people with wildly disparate objectives in exchange for nonexistent savings in adminstrative costs.

    • Oh come now. You may not like amalgamation….but don’t blame that for Rob Ford.

      Cities far bigger than Toronto exist and thrive without drama-queen mayors

      • New York is bigger than Toronto, but if you look at who votes in NYC elections, almost all of the voters are in urban areas. In the east, Flushing, Jamaica and the North Bronx are all well-served by the subway system. They all have high population densities.

        It isn’t that amalgamation is intrinsically bad. The problem is combining groups of voters that have disparate interests. This can be true at a very low level (e.g. many dysfunctional marriages), or at a bigger level (e.g. post Durham report Canada). If you added Westchester, Jersey City, Weehawken, Hoboken and bits of Long Island to NYC you would have the same problems that Toronto has.

        I mean while Rob Ford is a uniquely awful mayor, neither Miller nor Lastman were exactly stellar.

        • True…but most large cities have little Italys, Greektowns, Chinatowns, wealthy areas, poor areas….high population….but all have the same municipal interests. Good roads, traffic flow, infrastructure, public services….so it’s not that hard to connect them

          Toronto for some reason elects crappy mayors….I have no idea why. Miller wasn’t great, Lastman was a dingbat…

          • Everybody in a municipality does not have the same interests. Lets think about traffic, for instance. If I live in the suburbs, I probably drive to work (or rely on buses). Traffic is a serious impediment to my well-being. If I live downtown, there are already extensive subway lines that avoid traffic. Bike-riding is a viable means of transit as well, because I live close to most of my destinations. The debate over subways vs. light rail is a direct product of those urban-suburban divisions.

            Alternately, consider infrastructure projects like revitalization of the harbourfront. For suburbanites, this is a white elephant – they commute into the city, but rarely enjoy the benefits of a nice harbourfront. They’d rather see a revenue-generating casino (they don’t have to deal with the crime), or big condos (they aren’t losing a view of Lake Ontario). In contrast, urbanites can more easily visit the harbourfront AND benefit more from things like tourism revenues. As tax dollars pay for such projects you can see why suburbanites are reluctant to go along (especially if they are paid for by vehicle taxes, rather than property taxes).

            I won’t say that ethnic or class divisions aren’t important to municipal politics as well. But the urban-suburban cleavage is critical because it directly relates to the kind of issues municipal governments deal with.

          • Everyone has general interests in common….transportation is a good example. The same kind of transportation may not work in all areas but everyone wants improved transportation.

            Every city has an official plan….they should have been joined and upgraded upon amalgamation….and then they do it section by section.

            Everybody wants something….and council is there to make decisions and do the best for the city….knowing full well you can’t please 100% of the people 100% of the time.

            Other cities manage to do this all the time.

      • But none of those cities have the craptacular system of government that we have here in Toronto. They, as we once did, all have boroughs which handle things that don’t have any economy of scale, such as garbage collection or bicycling regulation, and there’s an upper level that deals with the multi-billion dollar regional systems. Toronto is the only city in North America (and possibly the world) which has only the one monolithic level of government where the councillors are expected to split their time between barking dog issues and billion dollar subway expansions. Where once there was room for choices such as twice-a-week garbage collection or parks between the neighbourhoods there is now none. Every little issue has to be dealt with the same way city-wide regardless of whether or not that makes sense. If bikes annoy the suburbanites then the bike lanes downtown, where they are the only way to get around, must go.

        Ford is a direct outcome of this situation and the rage against the “others” who now end up interfering with your life. A division that Ford has used to his advantage. He actually was a good ombudsman for his homies in the little village of EtobiCOKE so he gets elected whether or not he can put together a business plan. Everybody in the city is aware that your neighbourhood’s choices are to be micromanaged to death or micromanage someone else to death: my foot on your neck or yours on mine and nothing in between. Since the suburbanites outnumber the urbanites they win: Ford’s approval as of this week in the burbs 44% plus; in Toronto and East York 29% or less.

        • Well who left the city in that mess? Why wasn’t muni govt updated to handle the new reality after amalgamation?

          We are soooo slow to change anything in this country…..which creates messes like Ford….and the Senate.

          You still have to have 4K worth of property to qualify as a senator….which was a goodly chunk in 1867, and chicken feed now.

          I’m not blaming you btw….I’m just amazed at the situation. Jeez!

          • Amalgamation was a political move by Mike Harris (and a smart one, given his objectives: he wanted to create a Toronto run by the suburbs). As such it’s not clear to me that the municipal government *can* reorganize itself to bring back decentralized centres of power. That seems like the kind of thing the provincial government would do.

          • Amalgamation was the only smart thing Harris did….and it was nothing to do with Toronto. It’s been years but I believe it cut the number of munis from around 800 to 400…before that every township and county and hamlet etc had it’s own govt….so it was a big cost saving measure. It was MEANT to centralize.

            Each muni could have reorganized itself to take advantage of this….but most of them just sat around stunned. I had hoped that at least Toronto had more on the ball.

          • Centralization may sometimes have some benefits: there are certain big projects with economies of scale that require a large actor to do them. Centralization may sometimes also reduce duplication.

            But it also comes at huge costs. Small, localized levels of government are much closer to stakeholders. Moreover, they represent less diverse interests, and can better engage in collective action. Moreover, the benefits of centralization can be achieved by many municipalities working in concert. 73% of the programs delivered by the old 6 constituent parts of the Megacity were integrated before amalgamation.

            Ideally you want to devolve public goods to the smallest governing body able to deliver them. Amalgamation gave us municipal governments that were more polarized and further from stakeholders than their predecessors. They did not, however, reduce costs. The amalgamated city of Toronto, as of 2007, employed over 4000 more civil servants than its precursor municipalities had.

            When I say amalgamation was smart, I mean that it achieved Mike Harris’ political objectives, not that it was a good policy.

          • You could use that argument to have a govt every ten houses.

            Nope….during the change-over it required a lot of people….not once it was done.

            One council….instead of 25 separate councils….yes, that’s good policy. Fewer politicians and their salaries, cheaper elections, one administration.

            If people choose to pad it later when it’s not necessary….that’s their problem…..but it should never be blamed on amalgamation. It was meant to produce a streamlined efficient operation.

            Councils don’t really do that much you know….the Admin could take care of 99% of it. Cities all deal with the same things.. handling them isn’t rocket science.

          • It was MEANT to centralize

            What a load. It was meant, and you know it, as does every government worshipping Marxist flake like you, to remove government decision making further away from the man in the street who is legislated to pay for it.

            No one in their right mind would agree to allow a couple of their knowledgeable neighbours in a Township office to be replaced by 5 or 6 Sunshine List clowns from the Queens University School of Public Administration.

            Each “muni” (what a stupid expression) that allowed it to happen has been raped and pillaged beyond recognition.

          • Mornin’ Axelrod

            Coupla kids from Libertarian Loons are here today….you should meet ’em. They’re as lost as you are.

        • Ford’s ability to put together a business plan is better than probably any other municipal official in Canada.

          Ford was raised by parents who started a successful $100 million business from scratch, it’s an incredible entrepreneurial feat and Ford has been involved with that business at one level or other since he was child.

          If only by process of osmosis, Ford has better business skills and knowledge than any bushy beard clapped out business school “professor” in the country, bar none.

          • “By process of osmosis”?! LOL! Remind me to stand around Warren Buffet a lot so I can “osmosis” his expertise. Ford has had nothing whatsoever to do with the family business except to cash in some of the dividends, which he effortlessly inherited, to go into politics. Yes, his parents were good business people but he’s just a typical spoiled, rich playboy who inherited all his money.

            His ability to put a business plan together consists entirely of him screaming “Subways! Subways! Subways!” No hint of where the money is coming from because he never considered that. Younger, conservative councillors who actually do know what a business plan is jumped his ship long ago and were publicly appalled at his lack of financial knowledge. His “business skills” consist of going after the expense of Tim-Bits ™ in staff meetings while costing the city many, many millions of dollars by botching the only two budget items that matter: the police and the TTC. His latest budget was over 200 million dollars bigger than anything Miller ever passed.

          • At the end of 2010 the Millerwack exit taxes were .6016% of total taxable assessment. For 2012 the taxes were .5492% of taxable assessment.

            Based on the 2010 assessments that’s a reduction in taxes of $317 million.

            If we were applying the Miller percentages to the 2012 assessments the taxes would have been $360 million higher.

            That’s $360 million still sitting in the taxpayers pocket. Thanks to the efforts of Rob Ford.

            Time for you to learn to read the City’s numbers and stop loading these threads up with horse manure. The man is doing a fantastic job of changing the bottom line culture in that NDP dog house.

            The references are from the audited financial statements of the City available publicly and relate to Schedule 26 line 9199 at the respective year ends.

            You’re NDP full of it to the tune of a $360 million dollar improvement by Ford in just 2 years!

          • Nice try at trying to cook the books by meaningless comparisons and hand-waving. So the mill-rate went down and the assessments went up (way up from 2010 to 2012) and the tax payer bills stayed the same size. So what? See, taxes = rate X assessment. You should learn the basics of city finance. How is Ford responsible for rising assessments? Your 360 million dollar figure is pure fantasy based on comparing apples and oranges.

            As per the audited budget summaries on the city’s web pages the last budget Miller passed was 9.214 billion and Ford’s last budget was passed at 9.433: over $200 million dollars as I stated. (I’m using passed budget figures of tax-supported programs. Since the farce of amalgamation the city always goes over budget by assorted amounts and we don’t know this year’s overrun yet. Probably huge due to Ford’s bungling.) Those are real dollars out of the taxpayer’s pocket. Not Fantasy League Politics dollars.

            Ford’s sole accomplishment in financial terms was the outside worker’s contracts. No strike this time around: yay! That little bit was it. There are two lines in the budget that matter: the cops and the TTC. Everything else is pin-money. Ford handed the cops another massive increase to Canada’s Most Expensive Police Force without debate or examination. (Sweet irony given how a chunk of it was spent on him and his homies!) He’s basically wrecked the TTC budget by, amongst other follies, leaving the city on the hook for millions in contract cancellation costs while proposing to replace those contracts with bigger ones that will dump about another billion dollars (at least) on a stubway to nowhere. The programs he’s cut, such as the flood control programs he cut just before our latest 600 million dollar flood, are all penny-wise, pound-foolish.

            The NDP crack would be pretty funny if it wasn’t the standard Canadian defence against factual criticisms. Someone beating you in an argument? Just slander them as Right/Left wing depending which of those identical twins you’re rooting for. Never mind the facts. They’re boring and you don’t get to shriek with spittle rolling down your lips as much.

            Let me return the favour. Even if Ford was a good administrator (which he isn’t) that would hardly excuse his moral depravity. But I suppose that it’s inevitable that people will defend him on that basis given the nambly-pambly moral relativism and soft-on-crime attitudes of people these days!

          • You’re a very stupid uninformed individual but that’s typical and what we’ve come to expect from the government sucking left who can’t survive without a taxpayers pocket to steal from.

            According to the audited financial statements, not the summaries, if we’d continued in 2012 with the Miller shenanigans that ended in 2010 the tax burden on Toronto ratepayers would have been an additional 360 million dollars in 2012 and that’s a minimum without Miller in there to screw us further in 2011 and 2012.

            The increased assessment since Miller is largely the result of an improved business climate and it amounts to approximately 80 billion dollars. It comes with jobs for folks in Toronto. The unemployment rate has dropped from over 10% to about 7.5% and I’m going to guess if Miller was still in there it would be 15%. The business climate is better. Bloggers have come here to talk about it but Marxist jackals don’t like to hear about it.

            Ford has one vote down there amongst that rat’s nest of NDP plunderers and his main accomplishment is having put the fear of harry into them by exposing them for the thieving wastrels they are. The Mayor is a movie star and everyone in town now knows what a pack of numb skull crooks infest the NDP and every single Toronto ratepayer is prepared to put the NDP on the street if they don’t tow the Ford line.

            Your chances of driving this man out with a load of junction ridden horse pucky is approximately nil. Everyone in town knows what will happen to their taxes if you succeed. The party is over Popeye.

      • What offered opportunity to Rob Ford was the fact of the NDP bringing filthy dirty left wing party politics to the municipal level in Toronto and ramming it up everyone’s butt.

        So you can crank your mouth up to the highest level of yapping in history but you ain’t ever going to get Rob Ford out. He’s watching the bottom line and everyone knows about it and appreciates it.

        Plus he’s a decent man, something the left has never seen in its own ranks. And on top of it, so far, I see no evidence other than left wing yapping that he’s done anything wrong relative to say Jack Layton..

        So Emilywacky, the alternative is so bad, if Rob Ford goes out tomorrow morning and turns axe murderer, we’ll still be voting for him.

        I hate what you represent, it’s despicable.

  8. He needs to step down! He has been lying to the residents of Toronto for months. He should be someone who our children can look up to. And the fact that he wants to keep his position is ridiculous… and his brother is just as bad… the pair of them are an embarrassment… and chalking up the crack cocaine to a drunken stupor… is just stupid.. I think he needs to go into treatment for addiction… if not for crack then for alcohol… someone who is in his position should be held accountable and also be able to be trusted… if not he NEEDS TO GO!! Can’t we find ONE SINGLE PERSON that is intelligent, personable and truthful that would like this job? SOMEWHERE OUT THERE?? Please… Toronto is in desperate need of a good leader!

  9. Aside from calling Giambrone the “hope” of the “left” and not pointing out that Toronto transit problems, while bad in the past, are presently a legacy of the Ford administration rather than something which people are merely bickering about, this was a decent article.

  10. ” A civic vision constructed from rainbows and unicorn farts.”
    LMFAO! Brilliant piece of writing!

    • But…but…I want my ferris wheel down on the waterfront!

  11. Delete

  12. Let’s start with the anti-elite, anti-downtown, anti-transit, anti-everything-frankly vote that swept Rob Ford to power

    Yeah, they’re the problem.

    How did the…um…pro-elite, pro-downtown, etc. group do?

    Easy. They elected McGuinty and Wynne. How is that any less of a mess, other than your willingness to turn the page on those scandals quicker?

    • Do either of them use crack? Do they wander around with half-empty bottles of brandy? Are either of them sexist or racist? Are they the subject of ridicule on American TV?

      And why are you confusing the mayor of Toronto with the Premiers of Ontario?

      Is Naheed Nenshi the premier of Alberta?

    • Don’t forget that the urban hipster preference for mayor was admitted drug addict George Smitherman. But let’s forget about that. The point is the leftist drug addict is always better than the right-wing drug addict.

      • and of course you’re willing to let a drug user caught on tape who may be conspiracy to a murder/extortion bid (the real issue here) slide because he’s not a liberal (or a goddamn queer) right?

        • or a goddamn queer


          I simply pointed out that all the people who hate Ford (allegedly for his drug use) fully support several other drug users. Namely Justin Trudeau and George Smitherman.

      • You know, if he had been elected, and started appearing at functions on E and using poppers in public we would have been equally condemning.

        We in the left don’t lose all sense for partisan reasons: we simply don;t march in goose— I mean lock-step like the right.

        • So you know for a fact that Liberal George Smitherman wasn’t on drugs at public appearances? He has admitted to being an addict for 5 years, you know.

          And I’m curious how you know that “E” was his drug of choice? He hasn’t admitted publicly what his favored drug was. I’d always heard it was heroin. Do you know something we don’t?

          • Hey Rick, is your real name Rob or Doug Ford? You sound very much like them!

    • This is clearly another example of communist media refusing to draw the tenuous connections you find so obvious.

      Sounds like a conspiracy – at the highest levels! You’d better stop posting, before THEY come for you.

    • Would this be a bad time to point out that every provincial seat in Toronto – including those in the ‘burbs – was red or orange until just recently?

  13. We should all be troubled by a journalist who writes an article suggesting someone “shouldn’t have been elected.” Although I believe that federally, provincially and municipally we need election reform, I strongly believe the current defects in the current electoral systems are far superior to ANY journalist or media outlets attempt to influence who is in office. Jonathan, vote at the ballot box like everyone else.

  14. You forgot the most important person: Rob Ford.

  15. Jonathan is angry and irrational. This type of insulting reaction will ensure the reelection of Ford in 2014. I wonder if Jonathan will be on the same rant in 2017 when Ford is considering his third term ? Jonathan may have to move.

    • ford’ll be lucky to physically make it to 2017 if he keeps up like he has been…

  16. What I don’t understand is why the media doesn’t focus more on the murder that took place… maybe that’s what the police are looking at …. just my humble opinion….get this clown outta there

  17. Uh, no. That is the “narrative” that you wish to tell. The real narrative is that people are totally fed up with policy being dictated by international organizations who expect all the mayors and all the cities to sign up to a smorgasbord of policies that they have ticked off as being the signs of a “world class city”. They invite mayors and councillors to these international gatherings where they are sold everything from high speed rail to climate change to putting on bread and circuses for the elite tourist. People just want their cities to be liveable, to be cost efficient and safe for their children. After David Miller and his pandering to the international elite the public voted for somebody not like David Miller and they got that. David Miller was busy renting offices in London, England as part of his ICLEI pledge and growing green roofs on public buildings. Meanwhile the things mayors should be involved in – water, sewers and roads, were going to hell in a handcart. Much like McGuinty, Miller was spending money on things the international elite wanted cities to spend money on not on boring infrastructure. So, I’m glad Miller didn’t get back in. and I’m glad Tory didn’t run and I’m glad Smitherman lost. They are all cut from the same cloth and would have done exactly what Miller was doing.

    • And what has Ford down to improve the roads, sewers etc? Nothing. If anything, we’re worse off now than we were three years ago thanks to Ford’s apathy towards governing in favour of partying with small time hoods. Oh sure he’s happy to get involved with individuals (got a pile of sand that needs moved or a tree that needs trimming, he’s your man) but he finds city building and maintenance boring indeed.

    • Miller increased repairs on sewers on roads. Ford has cut them.

    • Rob Ford’s contribution to infrastructure repair basically consists of staring at potholes, paving the road outside his family business and shaking his fist at cockroaches in crumbling public housing complexes. Also, he once literally had a small pile of dirt moved from in front of some guy’s house.

      Oh, and ‘subways, subways, subways!’ funded by ‘rainbows and unicorn farts’. Plus, Gravy!

      To be fair, the ‘value-added’ cocaine trade has apparently seen an uptick. So, there’s that.

      • If all you can do is spew lies and NDP horse puck, stay home you’re a waste of everyone’s time.

  18. Hey douche…you”re gonna be crying in your pinko latte next year when he handily wins again Lol

    • what’s a pinko latte? is it strawberry flavoured or something? don’t they sell those at timmies?

    • Wow. Literally everything from your avatar to your use of the word “latte” is douchey. Except the name “Kevin”, that’s okay.

      • What an un-douchey retort. You really showed him!!

  19. Can we stick with the standard definition of the word “elite”, instead of adopting the kook redefinition?
    Rob Ford as both a rich man and mayor of the country’s largest city is indeed, “elite”.

  20. Q: Who is to blame for this mess in Toronto?
    A: Clearly, the answer is obvious: “elites”

  21. So even after all this the Fnord Nation continue to support this guy because they claim he has compensating good features! Well, this is the sort of nambly-pambly moral relativism and soft-on-crime attitudes that we’ve come to expect from the Right these days. Looks like the only way to get some moral backbone into politics around here is to go with the Communist Party. Help save the workers of Toronto from the bourgeois horseplay of this millionaire playboy!

  22. Well, you could also blame the left, the downtowners who ‘know so much better’ about everything than anyone else. It is that smarmy attitude which galvanized the Ford Nation to come out in support. The sneering, “we’re better than you’ attitude that media and the left ‘intelligensia’ have. Rob Ford and Ford Nation is the backlash against that and the left have no one to blame but themselves. If they weren’t so damn high and mighty, and had some respect for others, and maybe a little common sense, then this would not have happened. You lefties went overboard, and this is what you wrought.
    And I am no big fan one way or the other – just observing. You may not like it, but when the lefties get their noses so high in the air with their high and mighty ideals, there will be a backlash. That’s the danger of democracy – you go too far one way, and before you know it, the other guys are trying to match you going the other way. Think you are going to ‘win’ by stronger rhetoric? Doubtful. You’ll just have lots more losers.

    • No. Stop. Ford’s election lies squarely on the shoulders of those who voted for him even though his unsuitability was manifestly obvious. Stop projecting your buyer’s remorse on everyone else.

      • Dude, I have no dog in this fight so no buyers remorse. I am just pointing out that a lot of middle of the road people who have been pushed into this ‘team sport’ fight have voted Ford because to do otherwise is to punish themselves by giving downtowners way too much power. Suburban voters feel the downtowners abuse them with their highminded manner, much the way the lefties feel Ford’s bull in a china shop manner is abusive.
        It is obvious with all the vitriol flowing that you have a class war, and eqch side will bear some responsibility for the how the other side acts.
        You reap what you sow, although I understand it is now the ‘Toronto thing’ to just deny all responsibility and blame others. Well, good luck that as a solution. :-)

        • So the people who voted for Ford bear the responsibility for it. “Downtown” is not some monolithic entity bent on repressing the suburbs, even though that particular victimization fallacy worked for Ford. Own your own mistakes.

  23. The voters will re-elect him, thanks to you howling jackals in the media who never accepted his election the first time. When the big city media in Canada is upset with a politician, in my opinion that politician is doing a good, even great job. I’m not happy with the crack incident, but as long as he does his job (fixing the finances) I don’t care one bit what he does in his personal life. The louder you guys in the media howl because you literally despise the right, the more likely I am to re-elect the target of your contempt. Thanks for your help. Stunning hypocrisy. When Justin Trudeau smokes dope, he’s cool. When Barack Obama smokes crack, he’s sympathetic. When Jack Layton visits a massage parlour, we shouldn’t infringe on his privacy. But when it’s the hated Rob Ford, (or Stephen Harper), the screams for him to step down (because he never should have been there, in *your* view), to “get help”, etc. are deafening. If I hear the group-scripted terms “bombshell” and firestorm” one more time, I’m going to vomit. I hope he stays, and I hope he gets re-elected. I like unhappy big city journalists and unhappy elitists, because it means we are on the right track.

    • How idiotic. Your support for Ford is based on non-existent accomplishments and the fact that Ford has contempt for the city.

  24. Great article. Ford needs to step aside while he seeks treatment. But he deosn’t want to. Denial is a key, well-known behaviour of addictions.

  25. That`s what the miller admin left us with and the liberal media have to find a conservative fall guy.

    • I thought Mike Harris was the fall guy for everything? Did you know he is also responsible for Global Warming, the big tsunami, and 911?

      • and Sasquatch.

  26. I’d trade him anytime for the mayor we have in Ottawa, who puts the city down in debts all the time

  27. Who’s to blame? The suburban a$$clowns who made up 80% of his vote and still defend him. You own this, you morons.

    • more like the downtown a$$hats and whining media and legal elites.

  28. This (quote below) is getting at the real issues Toronto faces (or should I say flounders around, and ignores). Rob Ford is just a shining beacon of how poorly our city is run and how broken our system is.

    Give one example of a CEO, President, Manager, etc that would not be fired for the actions Ford admits to. And, “being belligerently drunk,” is no valid excuse, and deserves NO sympathy.

    Ford has made Toronto an international embarrassment. Action must be taken, to end this farce.

    “But the city he has purportedly lead for the past three years also has some pretty big problems. Traffic gridlock has become monumental, even on weekends. The transit system remains uncomfortably packed and unbearably slow, while politicians at all levels bicker endlessly about projects that won’t come on-line for decades. And explosive growth means the issues worsen by the day. Bridges and roads are crumbling. Toronto Community Housing has a $862-million backlog in capital repairs. Nearly a quarter of the city’s residents live below the poverty line. And more than 5,200 are officially classified as homeless.”

  29. So, if Rob Ford were to say… be reliant on gangs and hang out with criminals in order to get access to drugs would that mean all his votes against gang reduction programs would have been in conflict of interest?

  30. Ford is what happens when the only other options on the ballot are statism, tax greedy and corrupt.

    Ford is refreshing, when extorted he didn’t sell out taxpayers.

    Ask yourself why union cops are spending more efforts watching Ford and friends than going after organized crime? Remember, mafia brags about cops, prosecutors, judges and politicians int heir pockets (CBC Fifth Estate:Whisleblower episode).

    No one is going after the low rent for favors liberal counselor. So obvious the hypocrisy of the left in showing their true colors, as anything including extortion, vilification, harassment, open persecution of one person for so long…. Nothing says it better than the greed of other peoples money and the left.

    • Ask yourself why union cops are spending more efforts watching Ford and friends than going after organized crime?

      Because the first thing Ford did was roll over and hand out a massive 3.19% pay raise to the Police Union no questions asked? He really shouldn’t have tipped them off that he had to be high on something like that…

  31. Everyone knows liberal media bias is not limited to Ford. You don’t see union police going after liberal spenders bribery and inflated contracts in Quebec or Ontario. Never see this with NDP tax evaders or Liberal offshore accounts as media focuses only on corrupt conservative but not the left.

    Part of why CBC focuses on Conservatives is because Liberals have historically given them more of our money and their readership is laced with “other peoples money” types.

    To me, Ford is more than 1/2 right as he didn’t buckle under to extortion and has union police, union civil service, mafia, drug people, Liberals and NDP types in a snit.

    Maybe the real problem is Ford is too honest for the left statism types and organized crime.

    • Yes, the man who lied for months about SMOKING CRACK (thereby setting in motion a sequence of assaults, attempted murders, one actual murder, a massive police raid and whatever else is in the ITO) is too honest for them ‘left statism types’.

      Don’t know about the organized crime folks, though. They probably like the cut of his jib.

  32. Tabloid news frenzies looking for scandals, is this the role of the media? How about that billion loss, anymore news? any one responsible, where are the details, who benefited specifically, names, pictures, how many dollars.
    How about some news on the good things accomplished so far by the Toronto mayor?
    How about who is behind the anti ford and how they would benefit specific examples please. How about the ramifications of a weakened mayor and possibly an out of control council. Oh so much more actual news worthy topics, but no, the english style frenzie media is preferred because it’s so easy to view, understand and oh, it’s entertainment not really news. Most of us already knew the truth and in 2014 the public has a chance once again to vote yes or no, it should not be the media that makes the call.

  33. anyone notice how all of Rob Ford’s so-called friends haven’t come to his rescue in this debacle…you know, the Paul Godfrey’s, the Fantino’s etc…I’m sure there are more silent partners – and they likely have a strangle-hold on GTA real estate. Not sure – just sayin’

  34. What about Mike Harris who created this amalgamated Frankenstein in the first place?

  35. The crack induced stupor of a mayor.

  36. Nice to know the Ford supporters aka Ford Nation are all for associating with documented criminals, lying, drinking on the job, smoking crack, collecting a paycheck to be Mayor of Toronto from taxpayers while coaching football teams, driving his Escalade while reading on the Gardiner Expressway at 90 kph, urinating in public, groping women on the Danforth and at the Garrison Ball.. Not many leaders can rack up a record like this.

    On the bright side everyone knows you’ve been played by Rob n Doug and who all you “Ford Chumps” are now.

  37. This is what is “wrong” with democracy, but is Maclean’s proposing a different system? I hope not.

  38. I knew all about Ford before the election. On election night, when he was saying “we’re gonna work really hard…” I almost threw up a little in my mouth. I knew he was incapable of hard work, or even understanding the issues. I bear no responsibility for voting this clown into office. I blame Enablekoke instead. They still love him, apparently. They can have him.

  39. “Led” is the past participle of “lead”

  40. “David Crombie was “tiny and perfect.” John Sewell made headlines for wearing blue jeans. And June Rowlands is best remembered for taking offense at the Barenaked Ladies.”
    John Sewell also made headlines for attending a live sex show while travelling on city business.
    It’s probably time to change the tint in your glasses. Your view appears a bit too rosy.

  41. good points. great article. but take david miller out of it. it was stupid torontonian former burbers who voted for ford.

  42. Rob Ford is a man of privilege who grew up with a silver spoon in his mouth.
    Talk is cheap and actions speak louder than words. Has he accomplished his campaign promises. I understand that the city budget has gone up and not down despite his claim to reduce it by 20%.
    If the people of Toronto are so desperate to believe in his story of the common guy then they deserve what they get. If you believe that all that matters is less taxes and you are not willing to find out what is involved then there is nobody to blame but yourself. There are always trade-offs.

  43. Yes I drank myself into a stupor but what you need to understand is that I was high on crack while I did it so can we just move on now?

  44. The Big Problems you mention the city has. 8 Years of David Miller did that !!!!
    Rob Ford also got elected because Toronto voters are sick and tired of the likes of the Adam Vaughan’s/ Shelley Carol’s/ Gord Perk’s/ Janet Davis’s and a the list goes on.
    Taxpayers are Fed Up !!!!

  45. “Traditionally, Torontonians haven’t paid much attention to their municipal politics.”
    The writer answered his own question..