Did the Waterfront Toronto controversy diminish Rob Ford and his brother Doug’s indefatigable political allegiance?
While the conventional wisdom around city hall is that Mayor Rob Ford and his brother Doug are unfailing political allies, an article in the Globe and Mail today suggests that the political fracas surrounding Waterfront Toronto may have changed that. The story offers a fascinating look at the inner machinations of city council, and the level of political coordination it required to serve the Fords such a stunning defeat. It also gives plenty of reasons to doubt Doug Ford’s political savvy.
From the Globe:
In the run-up to Wednesday’s vote, stories about arguments between the two men circulated around City Hall, according to some Ford allies, one of whom described Doug Ford as “persona non grata” for many councillors. “The mayor knows it. He hears about it from those councillors. He was frustrated by his brother.”
Others say they weren’t aware of any tension.
Either way, their relationship has shifted, observed Shelley Carroll, councillor for Don Valley East. “You don’t see them so much in lockstep with one another. I think the mayor has learned. Councillor Ford now has the status that is fair. He’s a newly elected councillor.”
Although Doug has often been characterized as “the good cop to his brother’s bad cop”, that doesn’t seem to be what happened here. The story’s author, John Lorinc, describes Doug Ford’s fate as an “Icarus problem.” He ventured too close to the sun on wings made of wax—or rather a hastily constructed Ferris wheel—and got smacked down by his little brother. Really, it sounds like the mayor had no choice. Doug’s plan upset councillors on both sides of the political spectrum for different reasons, as well as those with wards that touched the Don River. Not only does this partially explain the unanimous vote at council, but it’s also a reminder of Councillor Ford’s inexperience: a seasoned politician might have realized that the plan would never succeed.
What’s also interesting—and perhaps even impressive—is that through the waterfront debacle Doug has somehow managed to hold onto his role as the friendly face of the Ford administration. Globe city columnist Marcus Gee, along with some city councillors, gave Doug credit for sparking a conversation about the waterfront. Of course, Gee is probably trying to be provocative and councillors are probably trying to be nice. But it still leaves the question of Doug Ford’s changing role in his brother’s administration hanging in the air.