Roxanne Tellier: Toronto’s SideShow Rob

Roxanne DBAWISSo … we’ve got this crazy mayor. This is not the first time. Toronto has lived through a lot of crazy mayors; electorally, our sense of humour seems to have the upper hand in the voting booth. We’ve had staid, boring mayors, and we’ve had Mel Lastman, the “Nooooo Body!” guy (and I’ll never figure out how that happened.  Well, at least we got a little bit of a subway out of him.)

melLastman Jon StewartWe’ve had our share, and yes, the world has snickered… but these allegations against Rob Ford are particularly shocking and abhorrent. There’s just no getting over a mayor that is allegedly on tape waxing belligerently while sucking on a crack pipe. Doing crack in the ghetto on your mayoral down time is not gonna fly for the people of Canada’s largest city. No matter how big a Ford apologist you may be, this latest scandal, if proven, cannot go unpunished.

robfordreelingThe only person benefiting from this current uproar is Senator Mike Duffy, whose own financial scandal hasn’t ranked nearly so high on terrestrial or internet press. Ford is everywhere; Gawker, New York Magazine, the BBC, all of the Toronto papers. Twitter is atwitter, of course. But I have to admit, hearing “Real Time with Bill Maher” host Bill Maher reference the mayor’s indiscretion, albeit only in passing  … well, it hit home.  At the end of the day, whether it was Rob Ford or his imaginary evil twin brother who allegedly indulged, it’s not good. The whole world is watching, bud. And you can only bluster and apologize so much before even the staunchest supporter says … that’s enough.

Toronto used to be Canada’s center of the universe. We all knew it, and we might have mocked it, but it was. After the CN Tower was built, we even had a world class erection. Take that, bitches! We are the biggest, the highest, the hardest!

But that was some time ago. Toronto has been falling behind, just like the United States. Our infrastructure is falling apart, our council cannot agree on how to save this battered city. The underpinnings are dissolving, and still we look for a savior that can fix all of our problems without increasing taxes or getting in the way of our Sunday drive. We’ve given up on hoping that the trains will run on time; we just hope the Lakeshore doesn’t fall on our heads as we pass under it.

robfordmayoral outfitAnd into this melee, this morass of political correctness, micro agendas and financial madness … enter The Fool. The suburbs, so badly amalgamated into the Greater Toronto Area, played a part in Ford’s coronation. Fed up with being the people who paid and paid and paid for the advantages that the actual inner city enjoyed, they hoisted this fellow on their shoulders, and bore him into City Council.

Ford, however, has been a divisive and dismissive mayor. From day one, his attempt to rule has been tempered by his more visceral need to be a savior/coach to a high school football team. Not that that’s a bad thing in a person, but it’s anathema in a man asked to represent a growing, breathing, changing city. As of last July 1, Toronto’s population was 2,791,140, about 84,000 more than Chicago’s 2,707,120. We have a true Vertical Mosaic, of different ethnic, language, regional and religious groupings. But Ford only wants to represent his own demographic; the overweight, homophobic, entitled, paranoid, wealthy, suburban white male.

For those who wish that the good old days of clean streets and polite civil servants would return, Ford embodies “Toronto The Good.” But that Toronto only existed if you could afford it, and most people today would not tolerate the Blue Laws that prohibited anything other than church going on a Sunday. Few people have the time or the money to live like Torontonians of the fifties.  But the past is covered in misty Disney memories.

robfordreadingFord’s got his own past, most of which he denies or glosses over. During his run for Mayor, news broke of his 1999 arrest in Florida, charged with DUI and marijuana possession. Ford lied, claiming to have only been charged with failing to take a breathalyzer test. I’m guessing someone else surfs the ‘net for him, because anyone with a computer and a question knows that you can find out just about anything about anyone, if you poke around.

In 2006, Ford got into a drunken shouting match at a Maple Leafs hockey game, and was thrown out of the arena. He lied to a reporter about being there, but when caught, sloughed off his foul mouthed rantings as a case of “one too many beers.” Also in 2006, in his capacity as City Councilor, he protested against spending $1.5 million to combat AIDS because, “If you are not doing needles and you are not gay, you wouldn’t get AIDS probably, that’s bottom line.”

He has hated bicyclists for years, claiming that any bicyclist killed or injured on Toronto streets brought it on themselves. As to the homeless, he’s apoplectic in his distaste for their needs.

In 2012, Ford was removed from office for violating conflict-of-interest laws. He appealed, and was allowed to remain mayor. Ford apologists seemed of the opinion that this little slap on the wrist might make him a better mayor. Ummm … I don’t think it worked.

Ford’s political career is a litany of sad, ridiculous, outrageous and inflammatory events. Apparently, it’s “an open secret at city hall that the mayor has battled alcohol abuse,” according to the Toronto Star – you know, the paper that picks on Ford and yet refused to pay the Somali gang members who tried to sell them the alleged cell phone tape, and who did not – seriously – break this story, despite having known about it for two weeks?

mattfoley_498523 (2)Ford lives in his own little bubble. He seems neither informed nor interested in anybody else’s opinions, preferring to belligerently shove his own agendas down everyone’s throats, pouting like a two year old when he’s denied his way. He is apparently oblivious to computers, the Internet’s reach, or the bazillions of cameras, big and small, that are witnesses to our every indiscretion. His misdeeds, whether real or faked, are now  spread all over the world .. from Gawker to the BBC to Bill Maher … there’s even a satirical Taiwanese news company (Next Media Animation)which has targeted the crack pipe video allegations on YouTube .

Setting aside the morality of a world where you can’t do a damn thing without being photographed, how realistic is it for anyone in a position of power to repeatedly pursue an entitled, bullying stance? Whether the alleged video is real or faked, Ford is irredeemably trashed in the public eye; millions of people will never bother following up on the story. He, like Washington’s former mayor Marion Barry, will be forever labeled and disgraced. Although perhaps there’s hope:

From Wikipedia: “in January 1990, when Barry was videotaped smoking crack cocaine and arrested by FBI officials on drug charges. The arrest and subsequent trial precluded Barry seeking re-election, and Barry served six months in a federal prison. After his release, however, he was elected to the D.C. city council in 1992 and ultimately returned to the mayoralty in 1994, serving from 1995 to 1999.”

I had big hopes for Ford, at the beginning. I liked what seemed like a tough-talking, anti-political correctness stance, and I shared his ideas on derailing the city’s “gravy train.” But months into his term, his bullying entitlement robfordleavingreared its ugly head. I bit my tongue, and prayed for his time in office to be mercifully short.

For all intents and purposes, Rob Ford comes across as a man who never really wanted the job as Mayor. His childish antics, disdain for niceties, and downright insolence to the majority of Toronto citizens is an insult to the position. He behaves like an employee who desperately wants to be fired, constantly upping the ante of wrongdoing. With this alleged indiscretion, he may very well get his wish.

= RT =

Roxanne’s column appears here every Sunday 

Contact us at dbawis@rogers.com

DBAWIS ButtonRoxanne Tellier has been singing since she was 10 months old … no, really. Not like she’s telling anyone else how to live their lives, because she’s not judgmental, and most 10 month olds need a little more time to figure out how to hold a microphone. After years of doing things she didn’t want to do, she’s found herself working with a bunch of crazy people who are as batshit crazy and devoted to music as she is, and so she can be found every Monday at Cherry Cola’s, completely unable to think of anything funny to say, as the co-host of Bob Segarini’s The Bobcast. Come and mock her. She’s good with that. And she laughs. A lot. But not at you.

One Response to “Roxanne Tellier: Toronto’s SideShow Rob”

  1. Excellent piece, Roxanne. Well written and informed.

    Sadly, the Ford nation doesn’t care. They will re-elect him while the remaining, sane, voters will split their vote on a collection of hopefuls who do have vision. At election time it’s never about who is best for the job….it’s only about who can maintain a strong centre – good or bad be damned.

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