A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘rob ford

[URBAN NOTE] “Doug Ford leads protest against Tory’s budget and hints he might run for mayor”

David Rider’s Toronto Star article is terribly worrisome, especially since Doug Ford is the political genius of the current generation of Fords. Rob, in truth, was but a puppet of his more functional brother.

I would like to believe that, with the memory of Rob Ford’s one term and with the very negative example of Trump to our south, Doug Ford would have no chance of being elected to the mayoralty of Toronto. I would like to believe this, but I cannot: Populism is really popular nowadays, especially if you have–as you do in the outer neighbourhoods of Toronto–populations which are relatively deprived and feel themselves to be disenfranchised. If we cannot offer better alternatives, I really can imagine a Mayor Doug Ford.

Several hundred people packed a Finch Ave. banquet hall to accuse Mayor John Tory of pushing a tax-heavy proposed 2017 budget.

The Monday night “budget consultation” on Finch Ave. W. was organized by Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti.

He told the crowd his often-outrageous antics are mostly to draw attention to city spending run amok.

“I’ll continue to take the blows (from other councillors) and yes, I am somewhat of a lone wolf at city hall because Doug (Ford) isn’t there,” he told the crowd.

Ford, the ex-councillor who lost to Tory in 2014 and says he might be up for a rematch in next year’s mayoral election, told the crowd: “The gravy train is in full swing down at city hall again.”

He repeated a discredited claim that his late brother Rob’s mayoral administration saved Toronto taxpayers “more than a billion dollars.”

Written by Randy McDonald

February 13, 2017 at 11:59 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “A Rob-Ford-beat reporter’s advice to the scribes covering Donald Trump”

The Toronto Star shares veteran reporter David Rider’s advice to journalists covering the many issues of Donald Trump, with five paragraphs drawing from his experience with Rob Ford when that man was mayor of Toronto.

1. Lack of shame is a political stun gun: Public officials caught in lies usually duck, weave and when pressed, apologize. Trump is remarkably Ford-like in his ability to boldly lie and shrug off unwelcome facts, dumbfounding reporters. Your only defence is to keep asking key accountability questions over and over and over, wherever you can, and refuse to let him dictate the story. After the Star revealed Ford was impaired at a military ball, I had to interrupt softball questions after a “Key to the City” ceremony in 2013 to ask him if he was battling alcoholism.

2. Don’t count on your competitors: Freezing out and even demonizing specific media outlets while giving preferred access to rivals is effective — divide and conquer works. It’s great that a Fox anchor stuck up for CNN, but don’t expect mass boycotts or co-ordinated demands for equal access by competitive media outlets covering the biggest newsmaker in the world. When Ford froze out the Star, some rivals helped informally, passing on press releases or notices of events when they remembered. Others actively took advantage of our disadvantage.

3. Being blackballed has its benefits: As Bob Dylan sang: “When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose.” Most great stories come from sources and documents, not news conferences and press releases. While it was inconvenient and unfair to be cut off from mayoral communications, it was also incredibly freeing not to have to worry about keeping the pipeline open More importantly, the flow of leaks and brown envelopes increased amid the Ford Freeze because we were seen as the outlet holding him to account. Also, some politicos felt sorry for us.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 22, 2017 at 6:15 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “When Rob Ford was Trump before Trump”

Marcus Gee’s response in The Globe and Mail to Rob Ford, in the light of the book published about his life by his brother and the election of Trump, is thoughtful analysis.

Doug Ford’s new book on the rise and fall of his late brother doesn’t tell us much we didn’t already know about the Ford years. Despite his thunderous pre-publication threats to call out their media foes and “rock the political world,” this is, for the Fords, a mild tell-little memoir with none of the revelations readers might expect from someone who saw the Ford drama from the inside. Still, its release comes as a timely reminder of how potent populism can be and how badly it can go wrong.

It was only two weeks ago that Donald Trump shocked the world by winning election as 45th president of the United States. How could this have happened? How did all the journalists and pollsters and experts miss what was going on? As the results came in and Mr. Trump claimed victory, it was hard not to think back six years to the night when Rob Ford greeted cheering crowds after winning election as the 64th mayor of Toronto.

No one expected that either. When Rob Ford decided to run for mayor in 2010, he was discounted as a long-odds bet. A cranky suburban councillor known for his rants about cyclists, streetcars, potholes and wasteful spending, he had none of the gravitas you might expect in a serious candidate for mayor. But people didn’t want gravitas. They wanted change.

Toronto had recently come through a strike by city workers that seemed to underline the failure of the usual politicians to tackle Toronto’s problems, from its chronic budget struggles to its underbuilt public transit. Mr. Ford stood out in early election debates, hammering home his message of respect for the taxpayer. He had a direct way about him that came as a gust of fresh air in a world grown tired of buttoned-down, scripted politicians.

Many voters didn’t seem to mind that he had a history of dodgy behaviour, such as a drunk-driving episode or an abusive tirade aimed at some fellow fans at a hockey game. They didn’t care that he was often outrageous. That’s what they liked about him. It made them believe he would shake things up.

Many of his followers lived in Toronto’s troubled inner suburbs. Like the rural and working-class white Americans who helped boost Mr. Trump to victory, they felt left behind and shut out. When Rob and Doug poured scorn on the pampered downtown elite, “Ford Nation” cheered. Trump followers cheered their champion for a similar message.

Written by Randy McDonald

November 23, 2016 at 5:30 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Lessons for Americans from the city that elected Rob Ford”

Jonathan Goldsbie writing in NOW Toronto offers some useful advice to our southern neighbours.

I’m sorry.

Dear Americans,

Hello from Toronto. We promise not to be smarmy or condescending.

It’s just that we have some experience electing a uniquely unqualified bigoted demagogue whose stunted emotional maturity and tenuous grasp of reality caused people to fear for things they held dear. But while we can’t pretend that our late former mayor was ever nearly as terrifying as your president-elect, there are sufficient similarities that it may be worth comparing notes.

There’s a whole subgenre of Toronto punditry devoted to examining Donald Trump in light of Rob Ford, and you can easily Google it, but what echoes right now is the sense of post-election destabilization — the shockwave radiating from a political system deliberately smashed to bits by an electorate that seems to prefer the whims of a narcissistic thug.

Please do not mistake the following for wisdom — being aware of these perils in advance will not make a sliver of difference. But they may help you be less surprised by some of the phenomena coming your way, so you can put that much more mental and emotional energy toward thwarting the looming ethnic cleanse. (We, uh, didn’t have to deal with that part here.)

So here are 10 things we learned the hard way:

1) It will get weirder and it will get worse. Everything you have seen, heard, and learned up until now really was just the beginning. In addition to all of the foreseeable ways that Trump’s taking office will be destructive, the saga of his presidency will dart down brain-melting paths of which you could not possibly have conceived. Your institutions of democracy will be confronted with, and overwhelmed by, circumstances they were not set up to handle. And you will discover gaps in the law that you never before noticed, because some principles of governance had been deemed too obvious to require spelling out.

Written by Randy McDonald

November 13, 2016 at 5:00 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Tory expects Trump to soften in office”

The Globe and Mail‘s Jeff Grey reports on Toronto mayor John Tory’s hope that Donald Trump will soften in office. Speaking as a Torontonian myself, I am skeptical of this: The only thing that ended Rob Ford’s reign was not a change of conscience on his part, but death.

Toronto Mayor John Tory says he believes Donald Trump will moderate the controversial stands he took during the campaign after he is sworn in as president of the United States.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday morning, Mr. Tory said the United States was an “incredibly resilient” country.

“I would never bet against the United States. And I think they will adjust to this different kind of leadership,” Mr. Tory said. “And so too, I think, will Mr. Trump adjust. I saw him this morning saying, I’m the president of all the people. And I think that’s a welcome thing for him to say. And one trusts that he will act that way because that is what you discover in these jobs in public office, that you are there to represent all the people.”

But Mr. Tory made a point of saying he would remain focused on making sure his city is “one Toronto” that provides opportunity for the “marginalized” and welcomes people of “every description, every faith, every colour of skin.”

He also said he would try to find “positive ways” to work with the United States and convince Mr. Trump to view Canada as a good partner and a good place to do business and invest.

Written by Randy McDonald

November 9, 2016 at 8:30 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “The main difference between Trump and Ford? Ford couldn’t start a war”

I cannot think of any reason to disagree with Edward Keenan’s article in today’s Toronto Star. Trump very much does evoke Rbo Ford to Canadians, especially Torontonians. Where Ford’s election was a matter of embarrassment, Trump’s election would be a catastrophe for the United States, and for the world.

There are significant differences between Trump and late Toronto mayor Rob Ford, obviously: Trump is far richer and prone to ostentatious displays of cartoonishly poor taste, while a black Cadillac SUV given to him by his brothers is as show-offy as Ford ever got. Ford had a common touch and genuine love for retail face-to-face constituent service that Trump shows no evidence of even pretending to. Ford suffered very sadly and famously from addiction problems of a kind that are apparently not among Trump’s long list of vices. And for all the displays of oblivious racism, sexism, and homophobia Ford forced Toronto to endure, he never whipped up open white nationalist racism quite so proudly and transparently as Trump has.

But oh, the similarities: the wealthy son of a wealthy man who somehow successfully presents himself as the avatar of the downtrodden; the war against the mainstream media and the burn-it-all-down flame-throwing at virtually everyone, left and right, in the established system; the apparently pathological habit of saying untrue things — even small, easily checked, seemingly irrelevant things — and of having those errors and lies fact-checked by the Star’s Daniel Dale.

And you have both men, despite their long, obvious records of dishonesty, wielding reputations among supporters as bold truth-tellers, for the apparently simple reason that they frequently say vulgar and offensive things, express out loud the usually verboten id of the electorate. It has been called “authenticity” in both men, but it is precisely their disregard for factual precision that is being labelled by the word: This is corruption and skullduggery! These Orientals are taking over! She should go to jail! We should ban refugees! Those immigrants are rapists! The constituency for this stuff does not give a crap to check the footnoted sources or parse its literal accuracy, they see truth in the wild howl of resentment, expressed plainly and forcefully.

With both Trump and Ford, there’s the belligerent indifference to the viability of proposals or any policy nuance or the potential consequences of ignorantly thinking out loud. The contempt for expertise. The hostility not just to stuffy protocol but to the basic institutions and practices that govern and protect the integrity of the democratic system. The pettiness, the seeming inability to resist impulsively lashing out, the insistent black-and-white dividing of society into us and them.

[. . .]

And here is where people in Toronto could be the voice of experience, having learned that such a thing would never cause public support to crumble. Certainly, prominent politicians and civic leaders would back away and condemn, but that only causes the diehard regular folks to dig in their heels, convinced all the more that their man is being persecuted by a rigged system. And eventually, the endurance of the grassroots fervour draws the politicos back toward the fold, like flies unable to resist the allure of a dung heap. And soon, the bad craziness seems normal — indeed it has become normal.

What happened in Toronto is that you had this figure who was so simultaneously compelling and unpredictable — so bizarrely dramatic a character — that you could not stop watching or talking about him, and yet also a man so fundamentally and uniquely unsuited to the job at hand, that all other political debate seemed to become of relatively low importance. His tendency to make everything a reflection of himself became a universally shared trait, and suddenly the only issue, in the eyes of supporters and opponents alike, became with-him-or-against-him.

Written by Randy McDonald

November 7, 2016 at 11:59 pm

[FORUM] What impact has Donald Trump had on your politics?

Inspired by my post earlier this evening about the fondness of Toronto’s Doug Ford for Donald Trump and what he represents, my [FORUM] question is simple: How has Donald Trump influenced your local politics?

Here in Canada, one thing the Rob Ford years demonstrated is that there is an appetite for anti-intellectual right-leaning populism. This does not match up perfectly with Trump’s right-wing nationalism, as Rob Ford’s strong support in marginalized immigrant communities on the periphery of Toronto demonstrates, but it does match up enough.

How are things in your particular jurisdiction being shaken by this?

Written by Randy McDonald

October 15, 2016 at 11:59 pm