The mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford, came to office in late 2010, and at that time many, including this writer, were surprised that he had been chosen to lead arguable the most left-of-centre city in the nation—a city that had elected Barbara Hall and David Miller, for goodness sake. So who’d have thought a hard-right fiscal conservative like Ford had one chance in a million to be elected as mayor.
Rob Ford, though, had the right message, namely, “Toronto has a spending problem, not a revenue problem.” Remember his campaign, “Stop the Gravy Train!”? Large numbers of voters agreed with Ford that Toronto politicians had lost respect for the city’s taxpayers and that there was far too much wasteful spending at City Hall. And, in Ford’s view of the world, labour unions—who were pretty much calling the shots for decades in Toronto’s municipal politics—would take a backseat to taxpayers and their families.
Refreshing to hear, eh?
Ford’s campaign provided the right messages at the right time—a powerful combination in any election. And it didn’t hurt that his chief competitor for mayor came in the form of a former member of Ontario’s spendthrift Liberal government.
Notwithstanding his election win, however, the influential left-wing media, never really accepted Rob Ford as mayor. Apparently, he was not as sympathetic to the Gay and Lesbian community as they believed was appropriate. He was not as “smooth” socially as their would have liked, or, apparently, as sophisticated. So their anti-Ford media campaign continued unabated throughout his term as mayor—even to spying on the mayor when he was at home in his backyard.
Unfortunately for conservatives across the land—who welcomed the example that Ford’s fiscal responsibility set for all municipalities—as mayor he provided too much fodder to feed the voracious appetites of the Left’s media machines.
There was one silly, mainly avoidable, controversy after another: reading while driving on the highway; illegally chatting on his cell phone while driving; passing the rear door of a streetcar, while its front door was open; to name the most avoidable. I say “avoidable”, because, as mayor, Rob Ford is entitled to a driver and car, but Ford turned down the city-provided benefit.
Now Rob Ford has, apparently, broken the law. Ontario Superior Court Justice Charles T. Hackland, having found that Ford violated provincial conflict of interest rules for municipal politicians, has given him two weeks before he must vacate his office as mayor.
This is serious stuff and, at the very best, a rookie mistake. But Ford’s no rookie, he’s been a member of Toronto City Council since 2000. In other words, he should know better.
Rob Ford will appeal the decision of the court, as expected. But, really, with his political capital running low—not to mention the ebbing away of personal goodwill felt by local taxpayers and other resident voters—what sort of an impact will he have even if he is allowed to serve out his term? Not much of one, in my estimation.
I will say, however, that Rob Ford has already done a great job of tempering the fiscal appetite of Toronto City Hall and has slowed down its tendency towards waste and an attitude that public service unions know best and should be catered to. For that he’s a winner and Torontonians should feel grateful for his efforts.
Mayor Ford, though, just does not seem to know how to be a mayor. He’s got the right ideas to be one, and he’ll walk the talk. He’s already demonstrated that. But he seems to suffer from some sort of mental block when it comes to implementing his ideas and, well, just acting mayoral.
In other wards, he’s the wrong man, perhaps, but with the right ideas, and The City of Toronto could do well not to toss out his ideas as it shows him the door.