Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Rob Ford: right ideas, wrong man

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.


  1. This is why the Left always wins...When they are attacked, they circle the wagons, when we are attacked we arrange a circular firing squad.

    Ford was clearly the victim of a well coordinated hatchet job. From the federal liberal appointed trial judge, to the self described "Tory Toppler" left wing activist who started the case.

  2. Ford is an embarrassing buffoon.

  3. Anon - the man is as the man is. Obviously Torontonians who voted for him looked for substance rather than style. Agreed, Mr Ford broke the law, but it's a bad law, as the judge pointed out. And, looking at the shenanigans of other mayors in Ontario, should he have been turfed for his sins?

    1. Unfortunately, Frances, I do not believe this law—bad law or otherwise—left much room for the judge's discretion. Anyway, Ford is able to appeal. Moreover, on the face of it, Rob Ford is not blameless in this matter, and chose to ignore offered advice that would have had him act otherwise.

  4. Dear Russ,

    I like your blog but on this topic you are wrong.

    As a long term resident of Toronto, Mayor Rob Ford has been a refreshing change to Toronto Politics. He is the first mayor in 20+ years to actually consider the taxpayer before special interest groups and grapple spending under control.

    He is a loose cannon but so was Ralph Klein. He did well. I remember being in Calgary when the famous quote came out "Let the Eastern Bastards freeze in the Dark" -- I was initially offended because I was one of those Eastern Bastards working in Calgary :). I also saw how the NEP destroyed the economy of Alberta and it was not a 2-3 year recession but a 20 year recession.

    Mayor Ford has done a wonderful job:

    [1] got rid of the car tax
    [2] balanced the budget
    [3] got the budget in place before the first day of the fiscal year (never was done before)
    [4] Got rid of the 5 cent plastic bag tax
    [5] promoting subways over "light-rail transit"
    [6] Snow removal has improved in quality that I never saw before
    [7] Garbage Collection has improved dramatically in west end toronto since they privatized garbage collection -- I will not describe the pathetic service we had before hand.

    there are many other items. Thus you are wrong -- A Bull in the china shop is what was required. Have to remember Toronto was considered the Left's fortress Toronto and he cracked it. To abandon at his time of need is wrong.

    Prior to Mayor Ford a major arterial road in my neighbourhood took 16+ months to repave. ????? The same thing happened on another major east-west arterial road very close -- in fact every east-eastarterial road over the humber river was under construction at the same time. You cannot even imagine the traffic jamns.

    Rob Ford is exactly what Toronto needed. Unfortunately the Rabid-Left also realized that and went on the offensive -- is it coincidence that all 3 law suits filed again Mayor Rob Ford came from the same individual?

    Also remember the law put in place (that most people agree was bad) was also put in place by the Provincial NDP in the early 90's.

    some thoughts to consider.

    gerry from gta

    1. A thoughtful comment, Gerry from GTA. Nice to see Mayor Ford still has such loyal supporters. From media reports, I gather that downtown is heavily against Ford and wants him out, but he's still receiving strong support from suburbs like Rexdale.