Friday, May 31, 2013

Mixed feelings on the mayor

I was going to start off with a Bob and Doug McKenzie joke about Mayor Rob Ford and his brother, city councilor Doug Ford, but someone at Toronto Life magazine beat me to it...

I'm not sure how I feel about all this... the whole sordid "maybe the Mayor smoked crack and made racist and homophobic comments in the company of two druggies who subsequently got shot, one of them fatally" thing.

I've never been a fan of Rob Ford. I'm stunned a city this cosmopolitan, educated, and buttoned-down (yes, in spite of it all, still) could ever vote a guy like that into office. I think he's loud, arrogant, doesn't think beyond the next sound bite, and grew up spoiled by rich parents. Toronto is one of the major cities of North America and not inconsequential internationally, and it needs a serious, full-time mayor. This one spends as much of his time as possible ducking out of council meetings he finds boring to coach a high school football team or stick "Ford for Mayor" magnets on the cars in the City Hall parking lot, and when he's not doing that, he's in court... defamation: defendant, litigant; conflict of interest... on and on. Now this.

My feelings are complicated. He's an embarrassment. I'd like someone else to be mayor. It's not just that I don't like his policies—some of them I do, actually—it's that it's pretty clear he doesn't have the judgement to be the mayor of a city. He's making Toronto look bad. Staffers are being fired or quitting on a daily basis. There are rumours of email deletions and actual warnings to the Mayor not to undertake that. The Premier of Ontario is having to look into the municipal acts to see what options the province might have, should it come to that. It's getting to be like Toronto's own mini Watergate.

But I don't want to believe it. This video hasn't actually surfaced, and as much of goof as I feel Rob Ford to be, I don't want to believe he's that venal or stupid. And I even find myself beginning to resent the way the media have gone after him; particularly The Toronto Star. There's reporting, and then there's vendetta, and The Star has crossed a professional line in my eyes and demeaned itself. I expect this kind of thing from The Sun and its pin-up page. Even The Globe and Mail chooses now to spring a story, supposedly 18 months in the making, that the Mayor's brother Doug, now a city councilor, dealt hash in the 1980s. It's looking less about the dignity of Toronto and its elected offices and more about "getting" the Ford family, and I don't care for that angle.

I want Ford to lose an election, fair and square, to a more progressive and responsible candidate. I don't want him hounded or, worse, torn from office and made into a martyr for the right wing. And speaking of them, aren't they supposed to be the stand-up, do-what's-right, law-and-order people? These are supposed to be the kind of people who'd say "oh, you were are a party in 1975 where someone had a joint in their pocket? Sorry, you can't be my mayor. How could I ever trust your judgement?" But no, his support remains solid in much of the suburbs. I guess if a guy cuts your taxes, hey, that's all that really matters. Apparently their civic pride ends in their wallets.

I don't know how it will play out, but if the Mayor comes through this, it's going to tarnish him, his office, and the city. I think, though, in the course of the next few weeks, he'll bow to the inevitable and resign, and let his crown of thorns become a halo to the right wing. We'll see.

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