Dear Ford Nation
Let me be frank. I am at a loss as to how to get through to you. On the subject of your hero, Rob Fob, you are so delusional and misguided that it's highly unlikely that anything will ever change your minds. You seem to think the mayor is just a victim of the evil left-wing media, especially that pinko Toronto Star. Yes indeed, the left-wing media are out to get Rob Ford. They are always hounding him. Why can't they just leave him alone? It was they who made him go to a crack house. It was they who made him smoke crack cocaine. It was they who made him spew racist and homophobic epithets. They are responsible for his "drunken stupors" and boorish behaviour.
I get it. You like Rob Ford because you identify with him. You think he's just like you, flawed and unpolished, the kind of guy with whom you'd like to go out for a beer and talk about football. His mistakes only endear him to you. - but stop and think! Does that really make him a good mayor?
I really don't know what it would take for you to withdraw your support for Ford's policies or to persuade you to vote against him in next fall's election - provided he remains in office. The sad truth is that you, my friends, are as bull-headed as the man himself. In the faint hope, however, that something will sink in, here are some points for you to ponder.
- Rob Ford is not fit to be mayor of the fourth largest city in North America. Anyone else who behaved as he has would be promptly fired. Imagine what would happen to you if you continually showed up for work in a state of inebriation. Imagine if you refused to admit you had a problem or declined to seek treatment. Sadly, the mayor is in complete denial, as is his family. His mother thinks his biggest problem is his weight. His brother Doug wants Toronto's police Chief Bill Blair to resign for doing his job and investigating the mayor's activities. His sister Kathy, who referred to herself as a "former addict," does not consider Rob to be an addict. Not one of them believes that their Robbie needs to take a leave of absence to sort out his problems. Not one of them feels he should remove himself from office.
- Mayor Ford claims that he loves Toronto. I'm sure he does, but not enough to do what's best for the city and its people. The mayor has become a terrible liability and his problems have become such a distraction that the city cannot move forward as long as he is in office. He says there is work to be done, but he himself is preventing it from being done.
- Mayor Ford lied to you. He lied to the people of Toronto. He lied to his supporters and non-supporters alike. The mayor openly denied using crack cocaine and denied the existence of the video showing him doing so. He finally admitted to partaking of the drug once, about a year ago, when he was in a "drunken stupor." (By the way, drunkenness is not an excuse for all sorts of reprehensible behaviour). Then he confessed that he had made mistakes and apologized profusely, but only because he had no choice. If the police had not gained possession of the infamous crack cocaine video, he never would have apologized for his behaviour or conceded that, yes, he had smoked crack. He only came clean because he was caught. Ford also denied being an addict although crack is highly addictive. If he is not habitually doing drugs, how do you explain all those clandestine meetings with alleged dealer Sandro Lisi? What was in those bags Lisi was giving the mayor? Do you really think that he was providing Ford with packages of Smarties or M&M's?
- Rob Ford's antics have made Toronto the laughing stock of the world. He has made news around the globe, from Britain to China. He has provided fodder for U.S. television hosts such as Jon Stewart who referred to Toronto voters as "enablers." Another American host, Jimmy Kimmel, showed a video called "How to Tell if your Mayor is Smoking Crack." He declared that its purpose was to "protect other major cities from going through the same kind of embarrassment that Toronto is experiencing right now." Yes, "embarrassment" is definitely the word. Just think what the world will think of us if Rob Ford manages to be re-elected next October. The damage he has done to Toronto's reputation is incalculable.
- The circus surrounding the behaviour of Mayor Ford may cost Toronto financially, according to Gabor Forgacs, a professor at the Ted Rogers School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Ryerrson University. Forgnacs stated that cities "are always striving to align their reputation with their image." The Ford saga, he said, has damaged Toronto's image as a city of culture and diversity. This may cause investors to think twice before doing business in our city.
- Mayor Ford's policies, they are simplistic and deceptive. He mouths catchy slogans such as "No more gravy train," "lower taxes," "subways, subways subways" and "the war on cars." He repeats those phrases incessantly and you, Ford Nation, nod in agreement like trained seals. Here's what the mayor isn't telling you. The services required by a world-class city have to paid for somehow. Either taxes must be levied or services must be cut. If important services are cut, then people suffer, especially low income people. Cutbacks result in lost jobs and if people are unemployed, they don't spend money to boost the economy. They also pay less income tax, causing the amount of money in government coffers to decrease When this happens, the quality of life inevitably deteriorates. The private sector cannot or will not fill the void.
- As for Ford's so-called war on cars, let me just say that cities are primarily for people, not automobiles. We need to improve public transportation in Toronto so that there will be less gridlock and less pollution. Secondly, Mayor Ford does not seem to know the difference between a street car and light rapid transit. Here's what Ford and his allies have cost the city with their insistence on subways. Toronto is already on the hook for $85 million because city council cancelled the fully funded seven-stop Scarborough LRT in favour of a 3-billion, three-stop subway extension That's not all, though. The cost of scrapping the LRT will increase further due to the cancellation of a storage facility and payments to advisers. Does this make any sense whatsoever? Are Ford's policies really saving you any money?
- Mayor Ford declared that he has nothing left to hide. I don't think so, not by a long shot. There will be more revelations and more embarrassment for the city of Toronto as long as this shameless, stubborn man clings to office. We still don't know the contents of the second video.
- Rob Ford is filled with inner rage, as evidenced by a profanity-laced video in which he threatens the life of an unidentified person. I shivered when I watched that video. It is absolutely chilling to watch. I cringed when I viewed it. Ford chalked it up drunkenness but it is far more than that. Drunk or sober, it appears that the man has anger issues and could be a danger to himself and others. The Ford story is not a comedy. It is a tragedy. The mayor is a human time bomb. Unless he gets help, he is going to explode. Instead of encouraging him to remain in office, why don't you urge him to get the help he so desperately needs?
I leave you with this thought.
. . . we need to stop supporting leaders with whom we personally identify, with whom we might want to go out for a pint or 10; we need to insist upon leaders with the self-knowledge and sense of shame that allows them to lead and thereby allows us to get on with our often messy lives.
- Daniel Baird
Toronto Star column
November 10, 2013
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