Mr. Popular: why Rob Ford’s winning over Toronto
By any measure he’s a terrible candidate for mayor. But his obsession with cost-cutting and his contempt for City Hall have pushed him to the front of the pack. The unlikely allure of Rob Ford
Over the summer, Rob Ford, aspirant to the office of mayor of Toronto, ample, happy and flushed, ate his way through 55 orgies of hot dogs and hamburgers and handshakes and photo ops. Five he hosted personally; two were fundraisers in his mother’s backyard, attended by loyal supporters and political heavyweights, such as the finance minister Jim Flaherty. The rest were held by community groups and political organizations like the Ontario PC Youth Association. As the weeks passed, the barbecues grew in size, and the cheers for Ford’s speeches longer and louder.
Ask anyone in Ford Country why they plan to vote for him and you get variations on the same litany: he answers my phone calls; he helped me when I needed help; he doesn’t waste taxpayers’ money. At one event I attended, held in a plaza on Dixon Road, Wilma, an intimidating woman in a faux leopard hat, told me she supports Ford because “we need a damn housecleaning at city hall.” Twenty-five-year-old Richard values Ford’s campaign to strip city councillors of perks, like free TTC passes and free parking, and supports Ford’s opposition to the land transfer tax because his wheelchair-bound father needs a new home, but he can’t afford it because of the tax.
The object of all this public affection is a big man but somehow not an imposing one. Ford is a serial smiler who looks up slightly when he speaks. When he shows his teeth, his eyes vanish into a haze of blond, almost albino lashes, and you’re left with the disconcerting feeling that he’s not actually looking at you. There’s something preeningly feline about him, too—he has a tendency to sweep one hand back over his hair (a rather lovely winter wheat in colour), or stroke his cheeks from side to side, perhaps because they are often sweaty.
By the end of the summer, polls showed that Ford had pulled ahead of George Smitherman, his only serious competition. Later this month, we could all wake up newly minted inhabitants of Ford Country. There are many who find that a very scary prospect. To them, Ford is a foul-mouthed buffoon with a long history of embarrassing gaffes and no grander vision of Toronto than a city that could be run more cheaply. His fans, on the other hand, can’t wait to see city hall wrenched from the grasp of big spenders and put into the hands of an ordinary guy who understands the problems facing ordinary people. That man, their man, is Rob Ford.
He is a lifelong resident of Etobicoke, the area west of the Humber River that constitutes a kind of buffer state between Toronto and Mississauga. There’s money there—central and southeast Etobicoke in particular—and the meandering side streets off Royal York Road constitute a world of spacious homes, treed avenues, and expansive parkland and golf courses. The feeling changes dramatically as you head north. The neighbourhood of Rexdale is immigrant territory, a down-at-the-heels, dense tract of apartment blocks, strip plazas and industrial parks; parts of it lie directly in the flight path of planes heading for Pearson.
Ford grew up in a secluded enclave off Royal York Road near Chapman Valley Park, the youngest of four kids. His widowed mother, Diane, still lives in the same house. The property isn’t grand, though it has a three-car garage, the front yard is attractively landscaped, and it has the benefit of a large backyard butting up against the park, with a pool and children’s playhouse. For decor, Diane Ford favours Asian urns and statuary; there are large metal urns flanking the garage, several Chinese-style lion statues in the backyard and an American-style eagle posed menacingly behind some bushes in the front yard. Rob Ford’s own home is a modest bungalow in the nearby Edenbridge neighbourhood.
Ford’s father, Doug Sr., was a self-made, hard-working man. He co-founded Deco Adhesive Products in 1962, bought out his partner a decade later, and built the business into one of the country’s largest producers of pressure sensitive labels (the kind you affix after peeling off the paper backing), with three shifts working 24/7 at the Toronto location, and plants in Chicago and New Jersey. The company reportedly has annual sales of $100 million. Rob’s brother Doug Jr. is the company president, spending much of his time in Chicago overseeing the plant there. Rob is the chief financial officer. The eldest brother, Randy, is the general manager who runs the Toronto operation on a day-to-day basis.
Doug Sr. died of colon cancer in 2006, his death painful and devastating to his children. Rob learned about public life from his dad, who was a backbencher in the Mike Harris government from 1995 to 1999. In 1998, Doug Sr. was accused of making racially insensitive comments in a television interview. Rob, perhaps in homage to his father, would face similar accusations in 2008 when he famously complimented “Oriental people” because they “work like dogs.”
The Ford family is certainly tabloid-ready. Kathy, the eldest of the four children, is a recovering heroin addict. In 1998, her ex-boyfriend, the father of one of her children, killed her then-boyfriend by shooting him in the head with a sawed-off shotgun. Several years later, Kathy survived a shot to the head (a different boyfriend and another man were later charged) in an accident unrelated to the earlier gun incident.
Rob is married; he and his wife, Renata, have two children, five-year-old Stephanie and three-year-old Doug. Rob himself was charged two years ago with assault and uttering a death threat against his wife. The charges were withdrawn because of inconsistencies in his wife’s allegations—the couple subsequently entered marriage counselling. It’s rare for a politician with a devoted wife and two cute kids not to take advantage of photo ops, especially when Ford so frequently refers to them in campaign appearances. But Ford and his team usually keep the family away from the media. I made many attempts to arrange an interview with Renata, all of which were denied, and attended several events at which she might have been expected to make an appearance. She never showed.
Rob’s brother Doug is the brains of the family, and the manager not only of Rob’s campaign but also of his own bid to replace his brother as city councillor for Ward 2. One councillor told me that if Rob becomes mayor, Doug will be his Cardinal Richelieu. Rob’s senior by five years, Doug is also über-blond, better looking and not quite so bulky. He is more articulate than his brother, with a slick, menacing smile—a man who rarely missed an opportunity to invite me, without actually meaning it, to stay with him in Chicago. He is a man whose bonhomie can turn off with an almost perceptible click. When I interviewed Rob in his office at Deco and asked about family matters, he evaded, stumbled and in a fit of desperation called Doug into the room. Older brother immediately took control. “Let’s talk about the issues,” he said, and we were soon into boiler-plate campaign tropes like cost-cutting, returning phone calls and the 10,000 homes Rob has visited in the past 10 years. He also made a point of telling me that I’d been given more time with Rob than anyone else in the media. “So,” he said with a suddenly lactating smile, “be fair and balanced, and don’t screw us around. I’ll never forgive you.”
When Ford wants to convince you that he cares for something besides the bottom line, he mentions his hours as a volunteer coach at Don Bosco, a Catholic high school in the heart of Rexdale. Ford coaches the Eagles, the school’s football team, along with a police constable and former CFL lineman named Oral Sybblis.
When Ford enters Don Bosco, he is immediately surrounded by teenage boys. They trail after him as he moves toward the gym change room, keeping up a steady stream of guy talk (“No way, man!”, “You’re kiddin’ me!”, “How you doin’, buddy?”), giving big bear hugs and trading back slaps and fist bumps. They always refer to him as “coach” or Mr. Ford. When I speak to them, they call me “sir.” They say please and thank you a lot. I know this is partly a show organized for me, but it’s impressive. Ford spends money on these students—he buys them equipment that some of them can’t afford. While I’m there, he tosses one kid a pair of football gloves and jokes, “These are $100 gloves, buddy, so don’t let me down.” It’s not all show, though. These guys are excitable and jokey, but they are scrupulously well behaved for high school boys. Some of them were once troublemakers with uncertain futures, and they, and their parents, credit Ford for the change.
Ford has always been passionate about football, having played throughout his high school years at Scarlett Heights Collegiate Institute in Etobicoke. Though he’s coached there and at other schools, his avocation blossomed at Don Bosco, in an area where joining a gang was a more likely outcome for some boys than joining the school’s then-moribund football team. He put $25,000 of his own money into the project and has since set up a foundation to help fund and equip teams in vulnerable neighbourhoods. “Practice starts at three every day,” he says. “Lateness is not tolerated. Swearing and racist comments are strictly prohibited—if I hear swearing, practice stops and everyone has to do four laps of the field. A kid misses a practice, he doesn’t play in the game. We go three o’clock to six, every day. Doesn’t matter if it’s cold or raining. We teach life lessons here.” Ford also says he insists that all his players attend classes, do their homework and maintain passing grades. “They memorize my number,” he says, “and they can call me anytime. I’ll be there for them.” He has appeared in court several times as a character witness for boys in trouble, and at times he has ended up letting some distraught young man sleep over at his home.
Those young guys bring out the best in Rob Ford. He’s an exemplary coach with an honest concern for disadvantaged young men (though an incendiary temper sometimes gets the best of him; he was asked to leave his coaching job at another school, Newtonbrook, after a shouting match with one of the players). He’s also a genuinely nice guy, albeit somewhat in the manner of the amiable high school goofball you can’t help but like. Problem is, the city doesn’t need a coach. The city needs a mayor.
Rob Ford prides himself on being an ordinary guy, and there is little in his history to contradict him. If he made much of an impact in high school outside the football team, it isn’t recorded in the Scarlett Heights yearbooks, though he says he also has an artistic side, having taken lead roles in school productions of The Princess and the Pea and Greasers. Summers, he worked for the family firm, where, he says, he got no special treatment. He graduated in 1988 with average grades, leaving to study political science at Carleton University in Ottawa, where he played for the Ravens, the school’s football team. He didn’t graduate, opting to leave a few credits short so he could return to Toronto to help at Deco. He eventually moved into management. Then, in 2000, Ford ran for councillor in Etobicoke North, inspired by his father’s political career and by a love for politics so ungrounded that he occasionally fantasizes about becoming prime minister (while acknowledging that his inability to speak French might be an impediment). He defeated the incumbent Elizabeth Brown by about 1,600 votes, taking just over 40 per cent of votes cast, and has been a fixture at city hall since.
Ford is a genuinely nice guy, albeit in the manner of the amiable high school goofball you can’t help but like
The posters on the glass wall of his office in city hall have all the sophistication of someone who’s running for president of his high school’s student council. The biggest is an ad for AM640 Toronto Radio (a jock-oriented station for which he’s a regular political commentator), and the other shows a crude drawing of a matador with a cape, the text reading “Rob Ford—T.O.’s bull fighter.” Inside, the walls feature many a framed caricature of him from the dailies, a large oil painting of Toronto harbour in the 19th century, a Chinese urn some five feet high, and certificates of appreciation from such groups as Faith Open Door Ministries, the Toronto Police Service, the CNIB and the Sikh Spiritual Centre. There are shelves of football memorabilia, and a “Local Hero” certificate from the Toronto Argonauts.
He doesn’t have many friends at city hall—and not just because, in a largely left-leaning council, he is something of an anomaly. John Barber, until recently the Globe’s city hall reporter, apparently called Ford a “fat fuck” to his face during a scrum a few years ago, and the schoolyard shouting match that followed was captured on film and can be seen on YouTube. Barber declined to speak to me for this piece, quoting American presidential candidate John McCain: “Never get into a wrestling match with a pig. You both get dirty, and the pig likes it.” Ward 7 Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti, also on the right of the spectrum, might have been seen as a natural ally, but relations could understandably have cooled after Ford called him a Gino boy, a snake and a weasel. Councillors, especially in nearby wards, resent the way Ford trespasses on their turf, handling constituent complaints instead of forwarding them on (Ford replies that this wouldn’t be an issue if his colleagues dealt as expeditiously as he with calls and e-mails). He’s described Ward 4 Councillor Gloria Lindsay Luby as a “waste of skin.” Councillor Pam McConnell says, “He screams at me, berates me as a mouthy woman, a commie. He looks at people as with him or against him, and looks at me as someone to be dismissed. I’m downtown, left, a different gender, so not relevant. He sees himself as the norm, and it is so frightening to think that he might lead a city whose motto is ‘Diversity is our strength.’ ”
I found many more councillors willing to criticize Ford. His spotty attendance at city hall is much mocked, especially in the fall, when he devotes considerable time to football coaching. As Ward 20’s Adam Vaughan put it, “When I heard he had decided to run for mayor, I wondered if he knew it was a full-time job.” Ford concedes that he misses three hours of council meetings twice a month so he can fulfill his obligations as a coach, but that he’s otherwise at city hall. I sat in for two days of council meetings in May. Technically, he was there. He was in the building. He took his seat late, often left the chamber for long periods, would return for short stints, leave again, chat with adjacent councillors, miss votes, get up frequently for glasses of water, look bored. Kyle Rae says Ford, unlike some councillors, never attends a meeting of a committee he doesn’t sit on. In particular, he avoids budget committee meetings where he would have an opportunity to ask questions that concern him most, but he prefers to wait until he can grandstand on budget issues in council. Rae and others say he doesn’t do his homework—doesn’t read his reports, which means he wastes council time asking questions to which he should know the answers.
That lackadaisical attitude has had more serious consequences. On April 30, the city’s integrity commissioner recommended that Ford be reprimanded for revealing confidential information about a planned property purchase by the city on AM640 Radio, concluding that “Councillor Ford failed to read the report, failed to check his assumption that the matter…could be revealed in public.” It was his first official reprimand, but it wasn’t the first time the integrity commissioner ruled that Ford had violated the city’s code of conduct. In February last year, he carelessly misread a report and concluded that Councillor Vaughan had voted to appoint one of his donors to a city committee. He accused Vaughan on AM640 of influence peddling. City council voted that he withdraw his allegations, apologize to Vaughan, apologize to all of his colleagues and “pledge to recommit himself to respect the code of conduct he has previously sworn to uphold.”
Sometimes, his big mouth is more costly. The city’s insurer covered a $12,717 tab for Ford’s legal defence against a libel suit brought about by Lenna Bradburn, until recently the executive director of municipal licensing and standards. Bradburn was infuriated when Ford blurted on AM640 that she was “in over her head.” He later apologized on air and claimed he only had his constituents’ best interests in mind, and the case was settled.
Court costs aside, Ford styles himself as the cheapest employee at city hall. He proudly violated council policy on expense accounts, which until recently forbade councillors from paying for office expenses out of their own personal funds. Ford continues to pay his own expenses: $648.90 in 2008 and $708.78 last year—paltry amounts, which means he’s cheating his constituents of benefits, like a local constituency office or informational newsletters, that residents of other wards enjoy. Nonetheless, his parsimony seems to sit well with voters who bristle at the thought of an office expense budget in excess of $50,000 (the city allocates $50,445 to each councillor to cover such basics as photocopying, postage, meetings, travel and so on). But Ford is rich. He can afford to pay his own office expenses. He can afford to host barbecues for constituents at his old family home.
He, or someone close to him, has an acute sense of how to inflame outrage among cash-strapped citizens. For years, city councillors received free TTC passes, free parking privileges, tickets to the zoo and other perks. Ford argued over and over again that councillors should pay for those privileges like every other citizen. A video clip he made and disseminated on the topic is a masterpiece of populist outrage. He was always voted down in council and finally took the matter to the Canada Revenue Agency, which agreed with him: TTC passes are, it turns out, a taxable benefit. Those other perks may be as well. “Touchdown!” Ford gloated.
That would hardly be the word he’d use to describe the incident at the Air Canada Centre on April 15, 2006, by overwhelming consensus the locale for the low point in his political career. Drunk and obnoxious, Ford had to be escorted from a Leafs hockey game by security staff after savagely insulting a couple, Dan and Rebecca Hope, who were objecting to his raucous rants. Ford called the man a “right-wing commie bastard,” and shouted, “Do you want your little wife to go over to Iran and get raped and shot?” The Hopes brought the matter to the attention of the city clerk once they discovered who Ford was. (The councillor had given his business card to two men sitting near him, and they turned it over to the Hopes.) Ford lied, said he wasn’t at the game, complained that he was the victim of a “hatchet job,” and finally had to fess up, offering as justification that he was coping with personal problems and had had one too many beers.
Why does this man stand a chance at becoming mayor? He’s a man who claims the arts are important but frequently votes against arts funding, a man who feels his every ridiculous misstep or gross violation of common decency can be remedied by simply saying “I’m sorry,” a man who has described cyclists as a “pain the ass,” a man who offered me bottles of wine as a gift when I visited him in his office and seemed puzzled that I thought it inappropriate, as a journalist, to accept what might be read as something other than an act of generosity.
He’s a contender because he is a master of retail politics. He is the Walmart of politicians. Price point is everything. There’s a reason he skips council meetings, avoids committees and has only a glancing acquaintance with reports and documents—he understands that his constituents don’t care if he isn’t fully up to speed on a seemingly arcane policy issue, but that they will care very, very much if he answers their calls and deals with their concerns promptly (other councillors point out that he often turns up at a problem site with more city staff than necessary, impressing complainants with how seriously he has taken their issues). I spoke with David Soknacki, city councillor for Ward 43 from 2000 to 2006 and currently chair of Downsview Park. Soknacki supported some of Ford’s initiatives and is a fellow right-winger. What matters most to voters, Soknacki says, is that “Rob will prioritize basic customer service needs, from bylaw enforcement to street repair to solid waste collection.” Ford himself claims that the top concerns for citizens (and he knows, he says, because he organizes “telephone town halls”) are personal-impact issues, such as city hall spending, taxes and crime. They don’t care as much about bicycle lanes or the environment.
To some, even his embarrassing behaviour might come as a perverse recommendation. With Ford, what you see is what you get, and there’s something reassuring about that, even when what you get is not exactly what you think you should want. Everyone has marital and family problems. Ford has them in public. Everyone wants to tell off someone: cab drivers, cyclists, dog owners, whiny special interest groups. You don’t have to—Ford will do it for you. Everyone has ohmigod moments when they’re told what they did when they were drunk. Ford understands. Everyone hopes to be forgiven when they screw up.
His love of politics is so ungrounded he occasionally fantasizes about becoming prime minister
Sometimes, what you get is what you do want. Ford’s Web site, robford.ca, is a model of transparency, recording how he and other councillors voted on most issues that come before council. No other councillor posts this kind of information. The same site lists the individuals and corporations who contributed to his 2006 election campaign (30 corporations, 29 individuals and the Toronto Professional Fire Fighters union). Every councillor’s expenses are detailed. The numbers are available on the city’s Web site, but not as conveniently arranged for comparison purposes as they are on Ford’s.
Ford adeptly manipulates class issues, which everyone pretends to ignore because Canada isn’t supposed to have a class system, but of course it does. Ford claims to hold the interests of the common man close to his heart, despite the fact he has little in common with the proletariat to whom he’s appealing. He’s wealthy but has the smarts not to look or sound so. That matters in the real world when it comes to issues like contracting out city services, which Ford endorses. Contracting out can be smart business, no doubt about it, and Rob Ford is a businessman, a fact he frequently emphasizes. Contracting out probably means lower taxes for most of us because there are always desperate people who will work for less. The city will save money, and so will you. City workers surviving on a decent wage might see their livelihood snatched away, but hey, here’s the upside—no garbage strikes.
That promise resonates with citizens. Last year’s labour disruptions alienated voters from a city hall they saw as incapable of reining in excessive union demands (and sounded the death knell for Miller). Ford paints himself as hostile to an elite that would include his most significant rivals: former Ontario cabinet minister Smitherman and backroom Liberal Rocco Rossi. In contrast, Ford campaigns on a program of single-minded, if often simple-minded, cost-cutting strategies that appeal to a crabby electorate. Although, if you do the math, the Ford program falls apart—it’s not possible to slash taxes and fees while putting more police in schools and building expensive subways instead of cheaper LRT lines.
That Everyman persona, that plea to take politics back from an elite, positions the Ford campaign as Canada’s answer to the Tea Party phenomenon in the States, a movement that stokes the politics of rage, that revels in simple answers to complex questions, that evinces a shuddering disdain for any cultural product or intellectual argument that might be seen as elite. Ford claims to have Liberal supporters, NDP supporters, supporters across the political spectrum. “It’s not Bay Street or the Albany Club that’s behind me,” he says. “It’s Main Street.”
As the man now in the lead, he wants to sound mainstream, which means his campaign organizers work hard to keep him on message (which almost always seems to be about making the city “accountable for every tax dollar”), moderating his vehemence, replacing it with the same jocular, good-ol’-boy tone he uses with the football team at Don Bosco. On city issues other than financial ones, the man’s ignorance is embarrassing. It was excruciating to watch him flounder helplessly at an Art Gallery of Ontario debate on architecture and city planning (the audience laughed when he claimed to have made Rexdale look like Rosedale), or hear the guffaws at a televised debate prior to the G20 when Ford, apparently unaware that downtown would be sealed behind a fence, declared it was a great opportunity to show Toronto off to world leaders by taking them to the Rogers Centre and other sights.
He’s a contender because he’s a master of retail politics. Price point is everything
There probably won’t be a repeat of an event like his penitential visit last May to an HIV-positive gay couple—his attempt to apologize for ignorant comments he’d made some years ago about HIV transmission. The meeting blew up in Ford’s face when the clearly troubled couple began pestering him for access to OxyContin, and then taped him suggesting he might be able to get it for them illegally. (Ford claims he was co-operative because he feared what the man would do to his family if provoked and wanted to get him off the phone.) At any rate, he apologized (again), and it seems to have worked. Though the incident constituted further evidence of a lack of judgment, it seems not to have made a dent in his support.
Toward the end of the summer, Ford had become a more confident debater, dismissing Smitherman’s increasingly shrill attacks with the equanimity of a man in first place. At an August debate on immigration, Smitherman accused Ford of pledging to ban refugees from settling in Toronto. Ford didn’t disagree. Toronto, he said, shouldn’t accept refugees because the city already has enough trouble taking care of its current population. Some audience members applauded.
I asked David Crombie, mayor of Toronto from 1972 to 1978, and Mel Lastman, mayor from 1998 to 2003, for their opinion of Ford. I wanted to hear what they thought were critical traits for the city’s mayor. Their short lists were slightly different, but each gave considerable weight to the ability to work with council. It’s important because the mayor of Toronto, for all the prestige the office bestows, has only one vote. “Having to work with other councillors deepens a mayor’s understanding that council is where the power is invested,” Crombie said. “Good public policy comes from sustained partnerships and relationships.” Even Lastman, who wasn’t famous for playing nice, told me, “You have to work with other councillors. You have to get along.” Name-calling, grandstanding and truancy didn’t appear on their lists.
At the end of one council session a few months ago, I followed Ford out of the chamber. We hadn’t been introduced, and he didn’t know who I was. He and two other men entered the elevator. The two men talked city business, gripped by some arcane details of civic administration. Ford, lost in his own thoughts, paid them no mind. He was looking at himself in the mirrored wall of the elevator, tilting his head from side to side, stroking his cheek in that caressingly feline way he touches himself, smiling approvingly. He likes what he sees. He believes Toronto loves him, believes Toronto can’t wait to be annexed into Ford Country. He may be right. I could almost hear him purr.
49 thoughts on “Mr. Popular: why Rob Ford’s winning over Toronto”
Coles Notes version: Rob Ford is the Don Cherry of municipal politics. Brash, bold, and no holds barred. He’s the politician who refuses to play politics as usual. He puts his foot in his mouth a lot, but he makes a lot of sense too. With so many so upset with the status quo these days I can understand why thye’ve gravitated to his camp in droves. He’s been railing against “The Establishment” for years. With Ford I truely believe that he believes in what he’s saying. In the words of George Costanza: “It’s not a lie if you believe it.” Smitherman, on the other hand, is a smooth talker and much more polished. But he comes off as just another politician to me. I don’t really know if he believes his own message or if he’s just saying it to get elected. And if you need to rely on others to drop out to succeed what’s that say about you and your candidacy?
This guy’s a joke.
And completely unprofessional. If he’s cutting costs right, left and center, where does he expect to get the money from to run the city? This is what I don’t understand. This city needs to be run like a business, and no one is taking into account that if he cuts all of these taxes/expenses now, we will end up paying long term-and the key to running any long business is long term planning.
*long=success business, i meant.
rob ford lives on edenbridge – a house on this street costs between 3-5million dolllars. tool!
Rob’s use of You Tube has been groundbreaking in the election. This article is right when it calls Rob’s “Revealing Perks” video as a “masterpiece of populist outrage”.
Rob has gone straight to the people with his RobFordToronto You Tube channel. Traditional media sits on the sidelines as Rob goes to the voters – from perks, to his transportation policy and now to his fical plan.
No one can accuse Rob of being behind the times.
Also His frugal use of social media goes right to the heart of his brand – more with less!
I’ll vote for this guy if it helps keep Smitherman out. I’m not a Ford fan, but my anti-Smitherman feelings are a lot stronger.
Smitherman is just a typical smooth-talking politician. Rob Ford may be extremely rough around the edges, but at least he listens to the people and their concerns and walks the walk. Why does it matter what street he lives on or how much his house costs? He had no control over his father’s success. He will fight for the people and hold other sleezy politicians accountable…he speaks his mind and is not afraid to stand up for something he believes in. Only problem is that he is the sore thumb in the group. Trying to get anything approved with little to no support from other councilors will be a daunting task, but he is the only one that will attempt to challenge them head on. My vote is for Ford!!
it says that his mother is widowed, yet it also mentions that his father can’t afford to move because of the land transfer tax…huh?
nevermind realized that was the young guy talking
I’m not so sure about Rob Ford, but basically what it comes down to is that he is the only one that seems any different than the typical politicians who have been running this city into the ground.
That is why people like Rob Ford. Smitherman is a former Liberal MPP, the liberals are getting killed in polls too. Joey Pants is David Millers right hand man, and no one knows anything about Rocco Rossi, but I would bet everyone considers him a Liberal as well.
Rob Ford is Sarah Palin wearing a jock strap way too tight, cutting off the circulation to his brain. He comes across as completely unprepared in debates and on council meetings except where he can grand stand and trumpet the same phony crap each time. His folksy charm wears thin and there is absolutely no substance to his platform. Cut taxes, build subways, fight for the little guy. If this man wins Mayor it will be the rise of the idiot class as ruler. Can’t we get Katie Couric to eviscerate him in an interview ala Sarah Palin?
Who knows, maybe Rob Ford can also see Russia from his place.
Wake up Toronto and vote with your brain and not your anger.
Joe: Do you think that comments like yours (“…rise of the idiot class…”) might actually encourage some people to vote for Ford out of anger?
I’ve been following the race quite closely and that sort of comment is common. A lot people say that you’d pretty much have to be a moron to support Ford. Problem is, like it or not, he has a lot of support and when you say stuff like that you insult a lot of people.
Saying stuff like that actually plays into Ford’s hand as it comes off (to me, at least) as if you’re looking down your nose at them. You combine that with a perception that the elitists have been running the show for far too long already and is it any wonder Ford’s leading? It surprises me that people accusing Ford supporters of being fools can’t see that.
I’ve been following this election pretty closely. Ford is evidently a terrific councilor, and more power to him for that. However I really don’t think he has what it takes to be a successful mayor of Toronto. He’s spent years alienating almost all the other councilors, whose support he needs to get anything done if elected. His entire platform is based on subtraction and contains no credible ideas for adding anything of value to the city. Can we do better at controlling costs? Yep. Do we need Rob Ford to make sure that happens? No. Are there other issues at stake in this election? Absolutely.
One more thing – to have Jim Flaherty, one of the principle architects of Toronto’s ongoing fiscal crisis when he was downloading costs as part of Mike Harris’ Tories, support Ford so he can clean up the mess? The irony is too much. Flaherty has no credibility in this town, or any other for that matter.
This is a masterful profile, Gerald. I believe you’ve captured the essence of Rob Ford.
The voters who want Ford in are just the anti-downtown Toronto group who wants someone from the core – look back, all our mayors have been from Downtown toronto – except Mel (lets not go back THAT Route!).
But Toronto, wake up! if we elect Ford, we will just be like the stupid americans and the brits will put us on the page one newspaper like how they did with the mericans when they relected Geroge Bush – remember that front page ? How can millions of americans be so stupid.
Give Ford credit, he is saying the right things he knows we want to hear and he has never once deviate from it – clena up city hall, kick out the councillors with big budgets who do more for corporate greed (Busin and Adam Vaughan)than their residents. Am I a smitherman fan – NO! But do we have a choice ? Do you REALLY want Ford on the world stage in 2015 welcoming the world to the Pan Am Games in Toronto? With his penny pinching ways, brash and unprofessional tone, not willing to compromise and not be part of a team to build consensus and get things done, how will he do it ? His way ot the highway?! He is not suited for the big smoke, send him to Port Perry or OShawa – but mayor of Toronto, i say NAH.
I think Ford is an idoit, Smitherland would bring a lot more diversity to our city and find a way to make it a better place even with less spending. Rob is just lying to get into office, watch nothing change when or if he gets ellected.
Smitherman is probably the most qualified….but Ford just may be what the city needs, I hear he wants to dump 20% of the city workforce….I am for that, who cares about service cuts as long as the basics are done. correction time!
As for Ford representing Toronto during the Pan Am’s, who the heck cares one bit about the Pan Am games anyhow? I sure don’t.the only legacy they will leave is one of debt!
WE DONT NEED NO GAYS TO RUN THE CITY
Talk about a hatchet job. What’s the point of attacking his family members? They aren’t running for mayor. And every section of the article starts off with a smear, then pretends to say something nice to make it seem like it’s a balanced article, and then undermines it. The last paragraph is a perfect example: don’t bother summing up the article, just portray him as you want people to think of him. Well, instead I’ll think of “Gerald Hannon” as a poor excuse for a writer, with few if any ethics and completely biased and shallow point of view.
Most of the people who are vehemently against having Rob Ford as mayor secretly feel that way because he is fat. If he were thin, tall and handsome, he’d be the Second Coming. Fatists.
1. How can we trust a man to manage the city if he can’t manage his own body? On a simple, visceral, human species level, should this guy be our chief?
2. I have heard it rumoured from different quarters that Mr Ford physically abuses his wife. It’s an ugly rumour, especially if it’s true. Again, how can he love and nurture his city if he can’t love and nurture his life partner?
I think it is time for a change and ROB FORD says it all – all the politicians are afraid he will tell us too much – he is a down to earth real person who has the cares of his neighbours and families and seniors in mind. The other brood are looking for their own pockets and FAME. Well guys it is time to SMELL THE ROSES. It will be interesting to see who runs against DALTON and STEPHEN???? Maybe we can find OTHER ROB FORDS to fill those jobs and have a real CANADA. We need down to earth PEOPLE who care about ALL OF US not just the TITLE of THE JOB and the PERKS that go with it. Let’s see who we can find – GOOD LUCK ROB and you know we all care about what you will do and we will be there to assist you doing it.
Mr. Ford reminds me of the JOHN who promises the naive young girl everything in exchange for her favor and after he gets what he wants he dosn’t deliver. You can’t destroy the Arts, Parades, Festivals, Marathons, Conventions etc. without destroying the infastructure that supports them and brings mega millions to the city. The council rules not the Mayor so Ford is safe…”Promise them anything and get what you want then blame it on the council when you can’t deliver”
Even the business of a taxi driver will be affected with the shut down of the city.
If you cannot afford the land transfer tax, you cannot afford to own a house. So that guy shouldn’t be complaining that his Dad can’t afford a home because of the tax – because he can’t afford a house to begin with.
Rob Ford isn’t going to get elected by being different than normal politicians – he’s going to get elected by being exactly like a normal politician: short-term thinking, tapping into visceral feelings and moving on to the next issue before any sort of analysis can change people’s minds. If anything, he and Smitherman are completely alike. When you think about it, in all aspects other than sexual and political-party preferences, Smitherman in style and substance is pretty much the same Rob Ford. There is nothing unique about Rob Ford at all.
WE DONT NEED NO GAYS TO RUN THE CITY
September 30, 2010 at 1:35 am | by alienation
Troll!! Sexual orientation is not a condition for any position.
MY NAME IS ROB FORD AND I AM WINNING HEARTS AND MINDS BECAUSE I KNOW THE ONE THING THAT UNITES ALL PEOPLE: GRAVY. DELICIOUS, BROWN, SLIGHTLY LUMPY GRAVY. WHETHER YOU’RE BLACK, WHITE, INDIAN OR SOME KIND OF ASIAN, I WILL ENSURE YOU HAVE AMPLE QUANTITIES OF GRAVY THROUGHOUT MY ENTIRE TERM!
MY NAME IS ROB FORD AND I APPROVED THIS MESSAGE!
Interesting how we care more about how a candidate looks than what he thinks. Interesting that we care more about their gaffes than successes. Interesting that we care more about sexual orientation than their basic beliefs. Interesting that “the most qualified” is dismissed in favour of change, any change that looks unlike a politician. Only a politician would seek out employment that results in constant nit picking of decisions and personal verbal attacks. I say let them at it. They can be controlled by public opinion if we want to take an informed position.
I live smack in Central Toronto. I couldn’t get any help with my councillor from the Toronto Center area. She is usless and simply stonewalls constituents who need help. I met with Ford on several occasions starting years back before the election. He IS dependable and he DOES make a lot of sense. He was decent enough to give me his time, advice and information I requested.
Do I want him running Toronto?
With what I have seen of the man, I certainly do!
Unless as a constituent, you are really on top of the issues by attending community meetings, watching the monthly meetings, having these issues AFFECT you, you really might have minimum knowledge of the extreme…and I mean really extreme waste waste of money that goes on in City Hall.
I am speaking of large quantities of money on Grants that have no positive results for the people of Toronto and in some cases, actually bring down the city and cause “Harm production”.
As a resident, I can see why we don’t even come close to being a world class city. This city is literally a mess.
I don’t care what Ford looks like and I understand his frustrations when he has to deal with most of the councillors who have betrayed the trust of the constituents.
My plan was to move out of the city when buying my next house.
With Ford, I most likely will stay.
Ford tells you what he means.
The other candidates tell you what they think they want you to hear.
Ford has his opinions.
The other candidates have opinions that fluctuate with the wind.
My vote is solid on Ford!
THANK YOU CATHERINA. I ASSURE YOU THAT YOUR GRAVY CONCERNS WILL BE ADDRESSED WHEN I AM ELECTED. YOU CAN TAKE THAT TO THE BANK!
MY NAME IS ROB FORD AND I APPROVED THIS MESSAGE!
Nicely said Catherina.. but r u sure you are not Rob Ford in disguise?! Come on!! NO Politician does what he says and means it WHEN he is elected. When the influence of powers start,they lie and turn away. Look at David Miller – where is the broom clean sweep he promised us? Liar Liar, his mouth is on fire and so will Mr. Robert Ford.
Rob Ford like the majority of Torontonians understands that career politicians of 20 to 30 years have forgotten that as elected representative they are suppose to represent us.
Not arrogantly spend our money for their pet projects or other meaningless endavours like trying to control what we eat or wherre we eat or how we cook our food.
They all were elected to keep our streets safe,traffic moving, sewers functioning by not over flowing during a storm and ensuring that we had fire and ems services, but not on every corner.
The don valley has become a parking lot, not a commuter arterial road. Our city is at a gridlock, both financially and from a transportation point of few.
These incumbent councillors for the past 2 decades have not taken into account or given any consideration to the 1 million daily private and commercial motorizing public needs to keep our city’s economy thrifing.
The city has a financial crisis and at least Ford recognized it long long before nay of these other candidates for mayor.
I think Rob Ford is the kind of guy that will do what he says.There are to many politicians today that say one thing, do another.Some people don’t like Rob Ford or think he is a joke.Obviously these people have never met him.Mr Ford seems like the kind of guy who cares about people and addresses their concerns.
He may not be perfect but his heart is in the right place.There has been far to much waste of peoples tax dollars at city hall.The tax and spend, pigs at the trough have got to go.Will Rob Ford make a good Mayor?
There’s only way of finding out.This election I’m voting for Rob Ford.With politicians like David Miller and Dalton McGuinty, Rob Ford can’t do any worse.Miller will soon be gone, McGuinty is next.As for Smitherman, McGuinty’s buddy, I wouldn’t trust him as far as I could throw.
After ten years in elected office and seeking four more years, Rob Ford is the definition of a career politician. His campaign on council waste, while ignoring any chance of being on the budget committee, shows me Ford is a hypocrite. Really, what has Rob Ford gotten approved in council over the last ten years?
As I was reading the profile on Rob Ford, I kept asking myself what is wrong with this picture? When I read who authored the article, I remembered the name and googled Gerald Hannon. I am extremely dissappointed that Toronto Life would give Gerald this assignment, given his background, which if noted would have provided context. I am sure he would have treated George Smitherman differently. The piece was as fair and balanced as Fox News is to the left.
Shame on you.
http://www.joeformayor.ca- I will be voting for the man that has the vision and experience to run this city and save Transit City.
I will not vote for this fool Ford or the snake Smitherman as well I will not Pimp out my vote as an anti Ford statement.
I have known ROB FROD for the past 10 years. He has represented Ward 2 Etobicoke North for that legnth of time. I am inpressed at all he has done in that time. HE ALWAYS KEEPS HIS PROMISES AND RETURNS MY PHONE CALLS. Rob has been there to help us in Neighbourhood Watch. Helped us save money. Printed our flyers for Free. Knows what he is doing. He is what Toronto needs RIGHT NOW. Apprearance and character odesnot matter. He has integrity and intellegence. Well imersed in politics and THE MAN FOR THE JOB AS MAYOR OF TORONTO. As for the preks. HE IS RIGHT ON THE MARK. I did an audit of David Miller. Want to publish my findings which has been HUSH HUSHED. MY VOTE IS FOR SOMEONE WHO HAS BEEN SUCCESSFUL IN HIS PRINTING CO. I MUGHT ADD EXPANDING AT A TIME WHEN OTHERS ARE SUFFERING. As far as I am concerned he deserves the KEY TO THIS CITY.
October 3, 2010 at 9:14pm by Kathy Forbes
I have read this article very closely. As I see it, Rob Ford DOES help people, as much as he THINKS he does.;)…. yet he is extremely rough around the edges. I have personally delt with him, as I work for City of Toronto. As an employee in ‘essential services’- Public Health, I surely hope he is not thinking of cutting our workforce that is hard to keep staffed and or contract us out. He will have a huge uproar on his hands and his councillors will NOT support him.
Back to dealing with him. He was out on ‘inspection’ with myself and another inspector, not once, not twice but at least 4 times. He was very bossy and tried to act like he knew what he was talking about, but hmmmm HE HAD NO FREAKING CLUE, and I am being polite. I had to put him in his place. Of course, we all laughed about it at the office when I returned. His level of scientific knowledge sucks ASS and I say that crassly because lets face it, he is ALL TALK and scare tactics are his way. If this is how he is going to RUN Toronto…then residents of Toronto, you are all in big trouble and trust me, you will be getting rid of him very very quickly..or can we? I can’t support Smitherman, as he has made some very uneducated decisions in Public Health. I am very worried for the the public’s health when and if these possible two candidates are potentially our Mayor!
What a horribly written article. I think the author needs to seriously think about graduating from high school and then attend a journalism program!! Keep writing this trash and watch Ford’s popularity go up and up. The Left just doesn’t get it. Just wait until October 25th and they will really get it.
i don’t care how much he’s going to cut spending or whatever; i am NOT going to vote for a drunk driver.
…….you don’t want to know what Snake Smitherman and Raunchy Rocco get up to behind closed doors …..
enough with the ‘diversity’ drivel….it’s nothing new and NOT IMPORTANT when Fiscal matters and crumbling infrastructure are what is important.
Mr bland Miller showed us what having to be ‘Politically Correct’ does to a city…..dithering fence-sitter, good riddance….take your useless bike lanes with you…..and he wants us to vote for his little puppet Joe Pants ??!!
If a mother decided to drastically cut the household budget by no longer service a good balanced diet to her children, opting for hotdogs every day we’d call child services. The naive children would likely love it but an intelegent person know there are needed ajustments and then there are cuts for cut sake and thats distructive. Ask Mr. Ford to cut his Ice Cream intake and he’ll vote for Smitherman.
It pretty much comes down to Smitherman being gay or Ford being a fat pig..
I am a Ford supporter. If he does get elected Mayor and my local council member won’t play nice I will be the first to call and remind them who voted them in. Get along or get voted out the next election.
Anyone who votes for Smitherguinty is an idiot!! The artsy fartsy crowd wants Smitherliar in so the elite will continue to receive their toys at the expense of the majority of taxpayers who just want some fairness!!! Smitherslime is a corrupt liar (like mcguinty) who DESERVES A punch in the nose!!!!!!
Gerarl Hannon’s reference to Rob Ford’s feeling his face gestures as “feline” seems misappropriated. Rather, Mr. Hannon’s betrayal of the Ford family by gaining their trust to enter their home and freely interview them, then publishing such as an ugly portrait of the man who many love and hope will be their future mayor, is, indeed, feline.
This was an election of “Who sucks the least”. Good luck Toronto, you’re going to need it. For your sake, I hope “Stopping the Gravy Train” actually has some plans behind it because apparently it’s the solution to every problem and the answer to every question he’s asked. If he can govern as well as he can repeat campaign slogans, he’ll be great.
Why do you have a pedophile named Gerald Hannon writing articles for you?
I don’t know what is more dneerssipg, The electoral history of Mississauga, or reading this post and realizing that Toronto is doomed.
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