A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘rob ford

[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

[URBAN NOTE] On the averted desire of Rob Ford to rip out the throat of Justin Trudeau

The National Post reports on the identification of Ford’s intended victim.

Well, Ford lost his window.

We finally know who Rob Ford was referring to when he said he needed just “10 f***ing minutes to make sure he’s dead.”

The late Toronto mayor was looking to get in the ring with none other than Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, according to a report in the Toronto Sun.

During Ford’s four tumultuous years as Toronto mayor, shocking cellphone camera videos of the mayor became almost commonplace.

The video shows a slurring Ford ranting and raving that he wants to “murder” someone and “rip his f***ing throat out.”

But it wasn’t intended to be taken seriously, one witness to that night in June 2012 told the Sun’s Joe Warmington. Instead, it was Ford, who was a big pro-wrestling fan, joking around WWF-style that he wanted to fight Trudeau.

Written by Randy McDonald

July 28, 2016 at 9:30 pm

[URBAN NOTE] On the tragedy in Rexdale, and its origins and consequences in the Fords

This news has made national headlines, and for good reason.

Candice Rochelle Bobb, 35, of Malton, was in the back seat of a car near John Garland Boulevard and Jamestown Crescent in suburban Rexdale when someone in a vehicle driving in the opposite direction started shooting, striking the pregnant woman, according to Homicide Det.-Sgt. Mike Carbone, who provided an update Monday morning.

“For some reason, only known to the offender at this point, that vehicle was certainly targeted,” said Carbone about the vehicle that Bobb was sitting in.

The three other people with Bobb were not hurt and Bobb, was driven to Etobicoke General Hospital, where she was pronounced dead and the baby was delivered. After the delivery, the baby was transported to the trauma centre at Sunnybrook hospital.

The baby is now in stable condition, according to Carbone, who would not reveal any further details on the child, including sex.

There have been calls from religious and political figures, local and otherwise, to deal with gun violence. The neighbourhood of Rexdale, a neighbourhood in northern Etobicoke and in the northwest of the amalgamated City of Toronto, has long had a reputation for random gun violence as well as high rates of crime and poverty, at least by Canadian standards.

It’s also worth noting that Rexdale includes the Ward 2 where Rob Ford built his political career. He was reelected here repeatedly, up to the 2014 election. His famous drunken rant in a restaurant occurred in Rexdale.

Why? Simply put, Ford’s populist stance appealed strongly to people who felt, mostly rightly, that they were marginalized in a larger city driven by downtown concerns. Jeet Heer’s 2014 Toronto Life “Rexdale isn’t perfect, but I prefer it to the hypocrisy of downtown” does a great job of explaining this alienation and how the Ford family exploited this alienation.

Because of Ford’s antics, Rexdale has become a major journalistic stomping ground. Although newspapers like the Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail have done a top-notch job of exposing Ford’s many nefarious deeds and habitual mendacity, I’m appalled by the way they’ve depicted Ford’s milieu. Journalistic accounts of Rexdale are written in the same tone of anxious amazement as ­Victorian explorers’ reports from Africa. The National Post once described Rexdale as “blighted and violence-plagued,” and on another occasion alluded to “the wilds of Islamic Rexdale.” The Globe’s publisher has said his newspaper is only interested in readers who make more than $100,000 a year, which by implication means his paper isn’t for the cab drivers and factory workers who live in Rexdale.

Despite his buffoonery, Rob Ford’s political prowess should never be under­estimated. He doesn’t reflexively look down on Rexdale. He knows his way around it all too well. Ford once promised to make “Rexdale the new Rosedale.” This typical Fordian flourish earned him many a snide laugh in downtown Toronto yet endeared him to his core constituency. He might be promising the stars, but at least he takes Rexdale seriously. Ford’s right-wing populism derives its power from understanding the aspirations of Rexdalers for projects like the expansion of ­Woodbine Racetrack into a shopping and casino complex. Although the billion-dollar project fell apart, Ford’s efforts on its behalf earned him street cred. What do Ford’s opponents have to offer Rexdale, aside from austerity and condescension?

Alienation, combined with suffering, produces anti-establishment figures. Who knew?

Written by Randy McDonald

May 17, 2016 at 9:29 pm